September 12, 1956 |
Norfolk County, Virginia
1997 Brickyard 400 Champion
2006 Dan Wheldon Cup (Robo-Pong 200) winnerMost consecutive Sprint Cup Series starts (788)
|Awards||Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (2007)|
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|906 race(s) run over 32 year(s)|
|Best finish||2nd - 1991 Winston Cup season|
|First race||1975 Carolina 500 (Rockingham)|
|Last race||2007 Ford 400 (Homestead)|
|First win||1983 Budweiser 400 (Riverside)|
|Last win||2002 Dodge/Save Mart 350 (Sonoma)|
|NASCAR Nationwide Series career|
|3 race(s) run over 1 year(s)|
|First race||1983 Sportsman 200 (Dover)|
|Last race||1983 Miller Time 300 (Charlotte)|
|First win||1983 Sportsman 200 (Dover)|
|Statistics current as of February 4, 2012.|
Richard L. "Ricky" Rudd (born September 12, 1956), nicknamed "The Rooster," is a former American NASCAR driver. He is the uncle of actor Skeet Ulrich and former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Jason Rudd. Rudd is known as the "Iron man" of NASCAR; holding the record for most consecutive starts in NASCAR racing. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, Rudd had made 788 consecutive starts. He retired in 2007 with 23 career wins under his belt. He was named the 2006 Virginian of the Year and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. In October 2010, he was selected to the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, which honors those who have contributed to sports in southeastern Virginia.
Early life and career
Ricky Rudd was born in Norfolk County, Virginia, now Chesapeake, the son of Margaret (née McMannen) and Alvin R. Rudd, Sr., the president of Al Rudd Auto Parts. He began racing as a teenager in karting and motocross, but did not attempt stock car racing until he was eighteen years old, when he made his NASCAR debut at North Carolina Speedway in 1975, driving the #10 Ford for family friend Bill Champion.
Qualifying twenty-sixth, he finished in eleventh place despite running fifty-six laps down. He ran an additional three races for Champion, his best finish being a tenth at Bristol Motor Speedway. He drove another four races in 1976 for his father, posting another tenth finish at the Firecracker 400. He went full-time in 1977, again driving the #22 for his father. He had ten top-ten finishes and was named Rookie of the Year.Rudd was forced to run part-time the following season after picking up only limited funding from 1st National City Travelers Checks. Despite the abbreviated schedule, he earned four top-tens and finished 31st in points. In 1979, he signed with Junie Donlavey to pilot the #90 Truxmore car, garnering four top-fives and a ninth place points run.
He did not return to Donlavey in 1980, and started out in a part-time run for his dad and D K Ulrich. He would end the season in the #7 Sanyo car for Nelson Malloch, for whom he had one tenth-place run.
In 1981, Rudd signed with DiGard Motorsports to drive the #88 Gatorade car. Although he had no victories, he won his first three pole positions, and began his lengthly streak of consecutive race starts. In 1982 Rudd stepped into the #3 Piedmont Airlines Pontiac for Richard Childress Racing. Rudd had six top-fives but dropped down to ninth in the championship standings. He was able to get his first two wins of his career in 1983, at Riverside and Martinsville Speedway respectively, but stayed at 9th in points. He also ran the only three Busch Series races of his career that season, winning in his debut event at Dover Downs.
In 1984 Rudd and Dale Earnhardt swapped rides, with Rudd moving over to the #15 Wrangler Jeans Ford for Bud Moore. Rudd was involved in a horrific crash in the Busch Clash at Daytona. Rudd's car became airborne (in a crash that Ned Jarrett described as being like a "bucking horse") and he suffered a concussion. His eyes were swollen so badly he taped his eyes open in order to be able to race in the Daytona 500. After learning of this long after the fact, NASCAR instituted the policy of examining all drivers involved in wrecks to ensure that they will be able to race safely the next week. He won his first race for this team in only his second start at Richmond and improved to seventh in points. Motorcraft became the team's new sponsor the following season, and he moved up one spot in points in that season, and then a career-best fifth in 1986. Despite an additional two victories in 1987, Rudd left Moore at the end of the season.
Rudd joined King Racing beginning in 1988 in the #26 Quaker State Buick Regal owned by drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein. He struggled with engine failures all season long and finished 11th in the standings, his worst points finish in eight years. After his only win of 1989, which came at the inaugural Sears Point event, Rudd departed the operation, and in 1990 he signed with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #5 Levi Garrett Chevrolet Lumina. He was able to win The Bud at the Glen and finished seventh in the final standings. He was involved in a fatal pit road accident at the season-ending Atlanta Journal 500, when he spun into Bill Elliott's pit, crushing Elliott's tire changer Mike Rich.
In 1991, Tide became his new sponsor, and Rudd won his only race of the year at Darlington Raceway. Later in the year at Sonoma, Rudd was the center of controversy in one of the most bizarre finishes in NASCAR. Ricky Rudd started on pole at the race, and was offered a bonus paycheck with the winning money if he won the race. Ricky Rudd drove up to second spot with 3 laps left, and when the white flag was waved Rudd tapped Davey Allison to take the lead. When Rudd came back around to the finish line he waved to his pit crew but was shown a black flag for the tap. His win was taken away and given to Davey Allison who refired to end up in second place. Ricky Rudd ended up in second place; Rick Hendrick, and crew chief Waddell Wilson unsuccessfully tried to appeal the penalties.
He finished the year a career-best second in points. The following season, he won the Peak Antifreeze 500, but dropped to seventh in points. After finishing another three spots lower in points in 1993, he left Hendrick with his sponsor Tide to start his own racing corporation Rudd Performance Motorsports.
Rudd took Tide and formed his own race team in 1994, Rudd Performance Motorsports, and drove the #10 Ford Thunderbird that season. His first win as an owner/driver came at New Hampshire International Speedway, which led to a fifth-place points finish. 1995 saw his consecutive winning streak almost end before he won the Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix, the second-to-last race of the season. He had another near miss in 1996, but won at North Carolina Speedway.
In 1997, Rudd had two wins, one of them coming at the Brickyard 400 and the other at Dover International Speedway, his highest win total since 1987, but he dropped to seventeenth in the standings, the first time he finished outside of the top-ten in nine years. His lone of win in 1998 came at Martinsville Speedway, dealing with high air temperatures and a faulty cooling system. As a result, Rudd suffered burns and blisters over most of his body, and gave his victory lane interview lying on the ground breathing from an oxygen mask. This would be the last win of his consecutive victory streak, as he struggled with mechanical failures and wrecks throughout the season. The following year, Rudd failed to win a race, snapping a 19-season streak with at least one win. When Tide left his team, Rudd chose to liquidate his equipment and close his team. NASCAR reassigned the number to Tyler Jet Motorsports for an unrelated team.
After many rumors and speculation, Rudd was hired to pilot the #28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Taurus for Robert Yates Racing for 2000. Although he still did not win that season, he had two poles and moved to fifth in the points standings, a 26 spot improvement over the previous year. In 2001, Rudd got his first win in three years at Pocono Raceway, followed by another victory late in the season at Richmond. He also matched a career-high 14 top-five finishes. He won his most recent race at Infineon in 2002, but dropped to tenth in the standings. Rudd left Yates at the end of the 2002 season.
Rudd was hired in 2003 to drive the #21 Motorcraft Ford for Wood Brothers Racing, and he responded with four top-fives and a twenty-third place points finish. In 2004, he won his final career pole at Talladega Superspeedway, but fell a spot in the standings. He was able to recover to earn nine top-tens in 2005, and improved to 21st in points. At the end of the season, Rudd announced he would "take a break" from racing, although not effectively retire.
Rudd spent most of 2006 out of racing, racing only at Dover, where he filled in for the ailing Tony Stewart. Ricky Rudd made an appearance to meet and sign autographs for fans at the 2006 Carl Casper's Custom Auto Show at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY, and meanwhile also raced in a karting event, the RoboPong 200 in Newcastle, Indiana, with future NASCAR prospect Paulie Harraka in a race full of IndyCar stars, and eventually etching his name on the Dan Wheldon Cup, the trophy that since 2012 has become that event's signature trophy. Late in the season, it was announced he would return to Yates to drive the #88 Snickers Ford full-time. His best finish since his return to the sport was a seventh at the Coca-Cola 600. As he missed the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, it was the first time in Rudd's career where he did not make a start due to injury. Kenny Wallace drove the #88 on an interim basis until Rudd healed, except at Talladega, where Mike Wallace drove the #88. He made his return at Charlotte, where he finished 11th. Rudd finished his career with a 21st place finish at the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami.
After the 2007 season, and a 32 year career, Rudd resides at his home in Cornelius, North Carolina. In 2007, Rudd was inducted into the 2007 Virginia Hall Of Fame and in 2010, he was selected to the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame that honors those who have contributed to sports in southeastern Virginia. Rudd now lives what he calls "a very simple lifestyle" with his family. On February 7, 2012, Rudd signed to be an analyst for Speed Channel's weekend motor sports news program, SPEED Center. Following the announcement he said, "I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. It’s going to be a lot of fun working with the gang at SPEED.". In 2013, Rudd made appearances in Series Two of the TV show Dallas in scenes filmed at Texas Motor Speedway as the hired driver for Christopher Ewing's methane-powered race car. On February 17, 2014 Rudd was inducted into the Daytona Beach Stock car Hall of Fame by Rotary International.
- The race is off for local boy Ricky Rudd | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com
- "Ms. Rudd Is Wed To Edward Wax". The New York Times. December 9, 1990.
- Virginian-Pilot Obituaries (HamptonRoads.com/PilotOnline.com)
- http://youtube.com/watch?v=bSZivo1SMLQ YouTube video of Rudd's Busch Clash crash
- Shapiro, Mark (July 13, 2001). "The field of hopefuls". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
- Pearce, Al (September 5, 2011). "Ricky Rudd". AutoWeek 61 (18): 60.
- Arneson, Erik (February 7, 2012). "CUP: SPEED Adds Rudd, Palumbo To 2012 Team". Speedtv.com. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
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IROC XVI (1992)