Ric Flair is, by far, the most decorated professional wrestler of all time. He is a 16-time heavyweight champ who has held belts in each and every major league of professional wrestling – from his early days in the AW A, through his glory years in the NWA and WCW, to his final years in the WWF. He’s still considered the best technical professional wrestler of all time.
Known as a jet-setting playboy who rolled from town to town in comfy limousines, Ric is actually a family man and a car aficionado. He has seen highs – such as receiving the key to his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. – and lows, such as recovering from a broken back suffered in an airplane accident., an accident he recovered from, and, with some hard work, won many a title after.
I started with some small talk, but the fact of the matter is, the love of the automobile is like any other love – you never forget your first one, you never forget the one that made your engine race that very first time. I asked Ric what his first car was.
A yellow 1965 Dodge Dart that my parents gave me for graduating high school.
Apparently, if you’re on the road long enough, the first one doesn’t matter as much. Still, I wanted to see if Ric was being coarse or really held a soft spot for that first car.
How long did you keep it?
I kept it for six months, then got a Dodge Road Runner…then I got a Corvette…then I got a Riviera and then I got another Corvette.
A/?/?, so he did remember his vehicles. In precise order and from the beginning. Apparently, he loved them all – not just the first one. Did he collect more? Was this a part of his success, or were cars his true passion?
Did you have a wrestling career at this point?
No, I didn’t start wrestling until 1972.1 got the Dodge Dart in 1968, then I kept it for a while, then I got that Road Runner, then I got a 1957 Chevy lmpala,then I got a 1968 Corvette. That was a very unusual car, with a 3-2 setup with 435 horsepower. Then I got a brand new Riviera, which was more businesslike when I started selling life insurance. Then I got married in 1971 and I bought my wife a new Volkswagen. And then I got a tricked-out Cutlass for my wife, then I moved to Charlotte and, within two weeks, I bought my first Cadillac – a 1972 Fleetwood Brougham that was black on black.
Now we’re talking – 435 horsepower. Awesome. I noted that each car he bought got more and more detailed. I was curious what he bought after fame set in and if he had specific preferences.
What is your favorite color combination?
I like blue or red.
What do you drive now?
A 2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo with 7,000 miles – silver exterior on a grey interior.
Why did you choose this particular ride?
I have mostly driven Mercedes recently, and when Steve Austin bought a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, it was real nice. So I drove to a Porsche dealership and looked at it. The Turbos are real fast, with 500 horsepower. How fast have you driven it?
I have driven it 140 miles an hour, but it is a lot faster than that. It is like a sports car, except it is an SUV.
It’s a good thing that it does not have a governor on it like a lot of your General Motors cars do.
Exactly. I do a lot of highway driving in it, and it is a lot of fun to drive here in North Carolina.
What kind of music do you listen to when you are driving down the road?
I like rock and roll, like Bob Seger and Dion. I listen to everything. I even listen to country, but my favorite music is old-time rock and roll, like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys. I listen to everything.
So you are pretty well-rounded in the music arena when you are driving?
I know nothing about the contemporary artists. I obviously know their name, as I see them on TV, but I do not follow them that closely.
Do you have a dream car that you have yet to purchase?
There is not one. I was going to buy a Bentley before I bought the Cayenne, but I like the Cayenne better.
Ooooh. Bentleys! Like a Bentley Amage?
I like the Bentleys, as some of my friends have them, but I got the Cayenne because it is like an SUV. I carry a bunch of stuff in it and I like the look of it, as it is different. And there is only one other one like it in Charlotte.
Do you get a lot of speeding tickets?
No, but I used to.
Was that back in the crazy days?
Yes. I had 82 tickets in five years.
WHOA! How do you keep your license like that? Champ or no champ, that’s a ton of tickets. Eighty-two in five years…that must have been before the points system kicked in.
Yes. The judge actually sentenced me to 30 days in jail for it. He called me a habitual speeder. This was in 1983 or 1984. When he said 30 days, I about died.
Well, maybe his size and profession had something to do with him not being sentenced before that. Pro wrestlers don’t exactly live or look like stockbrokers.
Did you go beat him up?
No. I was down there for about an hour. Then they came and got me out. Then I had to go back to my lawyer and go to Superior Court. I ended up going to court for the speeding violations on Christmas Day. Back in the old days, you used to be able to get out of a ticket for $20. We would drive about 3,000 miles a week and we would drive 100 miles an hour.
There it is. Three-thousand miles a week, more than 400 miles a day. That’s wearing out some tires…like driving six Indy500s a week. And, with 82 tickets, he probably rode the cars as hard. Made me wonder how much he learned about cars on all those roads.
How many cars do you think you have owned throughout your life?
Wow, that would be a lot. I started buying about three Mercedes a year in 1984.1 have always had at least two or three Mercedes all the time – the 500s, then the coupe and the four-door – so it is hard to say, but probably 60-something Mercedes. So I have probably had about 100 cars.
Do you prefer to own or lease?
I have done both, but prefer to own.
What is the craziest thing that you have ever done in a car?
I guess that I have done a lot of crazy things in cars, as I have owned two different limousines. I have had a lot of fun in cars.
Pro-wrestling. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as a buddy. Charlotte, North Carolina as home. Though Hie is originally from Minnesota, he’s lived in the deep South for years.
Do you prefer cars, trucks or SUVs?
I prefer my Porsche Cayenne SUV because you can drive it fast and it has a lot of room, different look and there are only two of them in Charlotte in this particular color.
Funny. Hie Flair. Steve Austin. Hough and tumble grapplers who destroyed themselves inside the square circle for years… You picture them out in a 4×4 with a cooler of beer somewhere. Not in Porsches and Bentleys.
You mentioned that Steve Austin has a Porsche Cayenne.
Yes. Stone Cold Steve Austin lives in San Antonio, Texas.
All the partners and friends you’ve had in the business – from The Four Horsemen to Triple H – you must have seen some sweet rides in your time. You can’t be the only collector on the circuit Do you think that you have ever been influenced by another wrestler’s choice in cars?
Seeing Steve Austin’s Porsche Cayenne was the first time ever.
As much as they travel, accidents are, sadly, very common for pro wrestlers. Flair had the airplane crash that broke his back and took the life of Bob Bruggers. A good friend of his, Terry Allen, known as Magnum TA, had a career-ending wreck in his Porsche at the height of his career. I wondered if he ever had any bad ones in all those years.
Have you ever had any bad car accidents?
I had a bad accident when I hit a deer going 100 miles an hour in North Dakota in 1973, as it destroyed the car. But no one was hurt and that is the only bad wreck that I have ever been in.
You are very lucky.
Yes, knock on wood.
What is your favorite car that you have owned from the get-go?
The Porsche Cayenne that I have right now.
Do you see yourself buying another Porsche Cayenne Turbo in the future?
Yes. I am going to buy one every year, a new one every year.
Wow, that must be nice, to be able to buy a brand new Porsche every year. That’s my kind of collector I wondered if he was going to switch things up in his new rides or if he’d stick with tried and true
Are you going to go silver again next year or possibly a black-on-black?
I think I will go black on black next year, or I will go with what no one else has in Charlotte because I like to go with the limited color scheme.
Well. You’re a noted, self-proclaimed ladies man. Stylin’ and Profilin’ was always your saying. Have you always been that way? How has this related to your cars over the years? Let’s remember your first date. You picked your girlfriend up. Your parents said, ‘Here’s the car for the night.’ It was your first time driving to pick her up and you were saying to yourself, ‘I am the man, I got wheels.’
I would double date with some of the other kids that had the cool cars and we would have a blast. I grew up in the era of drive-in movies. You are too young to know what that is.
No, we had one in small-town Texas where I grew up, so I am very familiar with the drive-in movie scenario.
We had one every 10 feet when I was a kid. So you get your girl to the drive-in movie and you own them. So, where are they going to go? To the popcorn stand? They can only go there so many times.
Okay, enough of the love life. All the traveling over the years for your work, what have you done for yourself? I know you’re probably road-weary after 3,000 miles a week, but even a heavyweight champ has to have some down time, some family time and vacation time. Do you have any favorite road trips that you have taken crosscountry in a car?
I have done so much driving with my kids…when my kids were in sports…I would drive so much and when I was wrestling, we would drive between 2,000 to 3,000 miles a week for 15 to 20 years.
Note: Flair wrestled the bulk of his career in the NWA and WCW. Back then, wrestling promotions were territorial. There was an unspoken code amongst the big promotions – the WWF Inow WWF), the NWA/WCW and the AW A – that you didn’t cross-promote into each other’s territories…until Vince McMahon Jr. changed the game by going national and global. Flair spent most of his career in the deep South with the NWA, until his later years when he went to the national WWF, where he recently retired a legend. Fie started his career in the AW A, which covered the northern Midwest, Great Lakes region.
North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West i Virginia, Georgia. From 1974 until 1983 and even when we started flying, I would still do a lot of driving. For instance, if we flew into Dallas, we would then drive to San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, and to Houston and back.
Enough for automobiles for a bit. I wanted to see what Bic was j doing in his life now, away from the “sports-entertainment” game.
What do you have to keep you busy?
I do a lot of public speaking and do appearances for Walmart and Coca-Cola. And I am learning how to live an ‘in-control’ lifestyle, which can be a little difficult being as I have been wrestling for 35 years and am used to traveling and doing what I want to do. It is a lot, but it is good for ] me to tone it down.
Have you found your inner peace with that?
Yes. I found it a long time ago, but lost it for a while. I can entertain myself pretty easily, so that is always good. I just do not sit at home and mourn. I am a guy that has had to take care of myself so much that I just do not like being alone, so why should I be. I have a wealth of friends and have worked hard, so I do not like sitting at home and watching TV. If you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on it and live life, and I have always known how to do that!
What more is there to Ric Flair, the man away from the ring? I know wrestling was your passion and your life and you love your children and family, but are there other things that drive you – besides cars? What is your favorite charity?
My two favorite charities are “Make a Wish” and “Muscular Dystrophy.” I stay involved in a lot of charitable-type of organizations, like the troops coming back from Iraq and the process of taking care of our veterans. They come back to terrible health care. I have been involved in the Patriot Gala here in Charlotte that raises money to give to the hospitals to help the men coming back from Iraq. I have been to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once, going to the front lines. Then we do a show.
How long were you heavyweight champion?
I have won 16. The first one was in 1981 and the last one was in 1998. °
All-told, Ric Flair is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. The 16 titles is a record that he took from the legendary Harley Race. Flair has influenced and helped numerous pro wrestlers you see today – from Triple H to The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin Iwho once, as just Steve Austin, had hair and LOOKED like the Nature Boy). Flair has lived a spectacular life and possesses a wonderful car collection. His knowledge of cars was matched by his knowledge of wrestling and his hospitality.