Photo: PD / Randy Ricci
Video Filmed / Edited by: Craig Lifto
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While walking in the cereal aisle he noticed a box of Urkel-O’s featuring character Steve Urkel from the popular US TV show ‘Family Matters’
He figured the cereal wouldn’t be on the shelves for long, so he grabbed a box in case it ever became a collector’s item. On the shelf above it was a box of Frosted Mini Wheats featuring a NASCAR vehicle. He’d always been a huge NASCAR fan, so he picked that up too.
Since then the 60-year-old Ricci has focused exclusively on consumer packaged goods products (primarily cereal) with auto racing tie-ins, and his collection has grown into something quite impressive and unique and totalling at 324 original, unopened cereal boxes kept in tact… and that’s not including the additional number of duplicates that also comprise the vast collection.
“I first started collecting when I was young when my brother and I would go catch some local car races where we lived.” Randy told us during a telephone interview.
“When I saw the cereal boxes with photos of my favorite drivers on, I started buying them and just continued to do so over the years! I guess it became quite an obsession, but why should I stop I thought?”
Ricci laughs. “To me it’s a surprise, like finding an egg on Easter morning. Those boxes are few and far between and I really enjoyed this.”
Ricci, who owns a Sonoma county pool cleaning business, still stops frequently at stores along his route to see if he can find any auto racing cereal boxes hiding on the shelves. But his favorite destination is to the nearby Sonoma Raceway – a year-round motorsports complex that hosts many NASCAR and other prominent races.
Because of his relationship with the Raceway, Ricci can often gain access to the pits and garage to chat with the drivers before and after races. Many of his cereal boxes are now also autographed by the drivers featured on the products – everyone from Richard Petty to John Andretti.
Ricci recently laid out his full collection of the 324 unopened, non-duplicated boxes on the start/finish line at the famous Sonoma Raceway this month, something he had tried twice beforehand to display and document his collection at one of the worlds busiest racing facility, with track activity schedules on average 350 days of the year. The first attempt was rained out, and the second attempt was scratched due to a scheduling conflict.
Of his hundreds of boxes of cereal (including Cheerios and Wheaties), all are still full and none are the same from the 324 publicly last counted.
“When all the boxes are displayed together it’s an incredible work of art,” he said. “My savings are this collection of cereal boxes, I’m sure it’s now worth a heck of a lot of money not just because of the collection itself and how much I’ve already spent over the years, but also because many are autographed by some of the best pro NASCAR drivers!”
The oldest box in Ricci’s collection is a 1990 Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats box that features the likeness of Jeff Gordon (NASCAR star) five years before he claimed the first of his four Sprint Cup championships.
Ricci would now like to find a permanent home for the boxes where fans can see it for themselves and he’d also be happy to have the collection even displayed one day in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.
But regardless of where the boxes end up, Ricci is happy that he’s already made history.
“Everyone wants to leave something behind… be it a legacy, or be it a collection dedicated to their life-long love of something. Mine just happens to be a big collection of boxes! Some people may find it funny, and others may just smile. But if it puts a bit of positive focus away from all the bad things happening around the world then I’m happy.”
Ricci is also missing two very important boxes – Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cocoa Puffs featuring a Daytona 500 series, and he’s hoping to hear from anyone who might just have one of the boxes sitting in their pantry. If you can help… GET IN TOUCH with us.
Speaking with Randy by phone this week, it’s clear he represents what a growing number of people worldwide wish to be able to achieve which is way beyond the items being collected or the quirky side of his collection even. It’s the sentiment of being acknowledged for being as Incredible as each of us can and should be and making our individual positive mark on the world… and if something becomes your passion and it makes you happy without harming anything or anyone else and whilst also setting you apart from everyone else on the planet… then it’s something to be celebrated we say!
Photo credits: Randy Ricci / TIG
Video filming / Edit by: Craig Lifto (USA)
And Here’s a little extra we learnt from our telephone conversation:
How did it all start?
We lived in a town where there was a big local racetrack and my brother and me would visit regularly. It was actually my brother who introduced me to NASCAR and Daytona 500 and I’ve loved it since! Young kids would collect imitation cars and models and I guess I wanted to collect something a little different. I also loved the visuals of the boxes, and as you can see when they are displayed together its quite a sight.
Had you always aimed for a world record?
I just contacted the authorities and they told me it wasn’t a category. So they started one for me. I contacted Guinness a few times and never heard back, but then at Xmas time they told me it’s a category and anything over 300 boxes would be a record. Well, I had lots more, and on counting I found 324 were unique and original boxes without any duplicates.
Are you a fan of the cereals too?
Well I probably would be if I opened any of them, but they are all still in tact as they were purchased! Each box is around $10 each so I don’t even want to think about how much I’ve spent altogether over the years.
Is the collection worth anything in monetary value do you think?
It certainly will do. Some of the boxes are quite rare now, and some also have autographs of many professional drivers so they will also be worth a fair amount now. But for me its all for the love!
Do you collect anything else?
Not to this extent, but I have many hobbies. I love the Beatles music, and Ringo Starr was my favorite member. I also love Astronomy.
Are you a fan of international Sports too?
I love Soccer, and I’m definitely a fan of UK culture – I love Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais, and of course, The Beatles!
How have your friends and family reacted to your hobby of collecting cereal boxes?
They are happy about my love of NASCAR and admire how I have persisted to collect such a unique collection over the years. My kids also love NASCAR and so we enjoy it together.
Your personal message for the world?
Everyone wants to feel acknowledged and unique in such a busy world. And there is so much negativity in the news daily that I hope my love for NASCAR and my collection makes people smile. We should all have passion and love for something!
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Special thanks once again to Craig Lifto in USA.