Thursday, June 8, 2023

Ron Rice, Founder of Hawaiian Tropic and Habana Brisa, Passes Away at Age 81

Ron Rice dead NASCAR sponsor Habana Brisa Hawaiian Tropic JD Motorsports Bayley Currey Habana Brisa
Bayley Currey wheels the No. 4 Habana Brisa Chevrolet Camaro around Darlington Raceway in 2022. Habana Brisa was the latest skincare brand developed by Ron Rice, who passed away at the age of 81 on Thursday. Photo Credit: JD Motorsports.

Ron Rice, who founded the Hawaiian Tropic skincare company as well as the Habana Brisa Reef Friendly Suncare brand, which has served as a sponsor on Bayley Currey’s No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season, has passed away.

Rice was 81-years old.

The first report of Rice’s death came from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

JD Motorsports tweeted their condolences to the Rice family on Thursday afternoon.

Shortly after JD Motorsports’ tweet, Habana Brisa shared a message confirming the passing of Rice.

JD Motorsports’ driver, Bayley Currey, who is featured on the Habana Brisa Facebook Cover photo, and has become an ambassador of sorts for the brand at the race track, also tweeted his condolences.

Rice, who single handedly created the formula for Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion with a trash can and broken broom handle, built an empire and over the years became known as the Suntan King.

NASCAR and Rice went hand in hand as the suntan lotion formulator utilized 200 mph billboards, and models showcasing the Hawaiian Tropic logo at the race tracks, as his marketing tool.

Rice’s No. 1 Hawaiian Tropic car was involved in one of the most famous — if not the most famous — finish in NASCAR history, the 1979 Daytona 500.

Donnie Allison, driving the Hawaiian Tropic machine, was locked into an impassioned battle for the race win with Cale Yarborough. Heading down the backstretch on the final lap, the two drivers made contact several times, which sent them crashing into each other and the outside wall in turn three.

Both cars would skid to a stop in the grass inside turns 3 and 4.

Donnie Allison’s brother Bobby stopped by the scene of the accident to make sure his brother was okay. As he arrived, Yarborough got out of his car, and fists and helmets began flying.

There was a fight! And NASCAR was officially on the map. Rice and his Hawaiian Tropic brand were right in the thick of it all.

It all came full circle as Rice struck a deal to serve as the primary sponsor for Bayley Currey during the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season on the No. 4 JD Motorsports machine with his new Habana Brisa brand.

At Darlington Raceway, for throwback weekend, JD Motorsports honored Rice with a special decal on the Habana Brisa car of Rice and Donnie Allison posing next to the No. 1 Hawaiian Tropic car prior to the ’79 Daytona 500.

According to an obituary on, Rice had been struggling with declining health in recent months.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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