Jerry Heasley
February 1, 2018

Ford enthusiasts lost a performance legend on Monday, January 29, 2018, when Rick Kirk passed away at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Born on January 20, 1947 in Ripley, Oklahoma, Rick is survived by his wife Laura and daughters Melissa and Julie. Services will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 2 PM at the Church of Christ located at the corner of Duck and McElroy in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

In his Okie accent, Kirk once gave us directions to his business: “Go north of town and count 17 mail boxes, turn around and backtrack 6 and we’re on the right-hand side.”

Kirk was really in his element, smiling and full of fun, when he was buying and trading Ford parts and memorabilia, or even when he showed these parts and explained their history.

He liked to sit in his big chair in his Ford “lair,” high above his shop and past a sign that read, “Ford Country, Population, Excited.” Excited he was to be surrounded by thousands of his Ford treasures, ranging from a 1912 Ford dealership clock to a Ford Performance Corner lighted sign, circa 1969, to a stop watch that Vern Tinsler used to time GT-40s at LeMans in the 1960s, to a 427 SOHC that powered Mickey Thompson’s Autolite Special to a land speed record attempt.

Kirk also collected Ford-powered cars. His favorites were from the 1963-1966 years. For a time he had his own Ford car museum in Ripley. Inside he displayed an A/FX and a B/FX Comet, a 1964 Ford Lightweight Galaxie (which he owned since 1967), a 1962 Thunderbird Sports Roadster, the first 1968 Mustang Cobra Jet “135 series” drag car, and much more, including strange and unusual intake manifold and other parts from the performance years.

What made Rick such a legend was his sense of humor and fondness for people. He was quick to share information and he traveled extensively to events. Bob Perkins said, “He knew everybody and really liked nostalgia drag racing events.”

Most people would be surprised to hear that Kirk also did high profile machine work for the automakers in Detroit.

In the late 1980s, Chevrolet contracted Mercury Marine in Stillwater, Oklahoma to build their DOHC LT5 V8 for their new ZR-1 Corvette. Chevrolet called Kirk to make the engine carts, which Rick painted Ford Corporate Blue. Chevrolet signed off on the carts, not knowing what prank Kirk had pulled off. Kirk also did much of the tooling and prototype work to machine the heads and block.

Check out Donald Farr’s story on Rick and his impressive collection of Ford and Mustang memorabilia here:

He will be sorely missed in not only the Ford community, but the automotive world as well. Rest in peace Rick.