Ricky Rutledge Sr.: Window Net Broke Loose

Ricky Rutledge Sr.: Window Net Broke Loose

A car pushed up and nailed the driver’s-side door of the car Ricky Rutledge Sr. raced. It then proceeded to get worse for Rutledge. The incident occurred during a heat race for the Gladiator class at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida.

“When he hit me, it blew out the right-front tire, and that’s what started me to roll,” said Rutledge, 64, of Tampa, Florida. “[The crash] bent the [window net’s] rod and it came loose. You don’t really have time to think when something like that is going on. You try to grab onto what you can.”

Rutledge held onto his roll cage as his 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier rolled three times, coming to a stop on its wheels. Miraculously, Rutledge’s arms and hands never touched the ground. He walked away from the crash with only some bruising to right leg.

“I think my leg hit the roll cage,” Rutledge said. “It didn’t have padding, but it does now.”

He sat in a non-containment Kirkey seat, with a five-point RaceQuip harness. He used a neck collar combined with a G-Force Racing Gear helmet.

Rutledge’s car incurred relatively minor damage from the crash.

“We tried to fix it [for the feature], but it broke the left [-front] axle,” said Rutledge, who added most of the damage was cosmetic or confined to the front suspension.

Ricky Rutledge Sr. started racing during the early 1980s. He exited the sport in 2000. After his son, Ricky Jr., started racing, Rutledge decided to join in on the fun four or five years ago. Ricky Jr. helped with the roll cage, which held up when Rutledge needed it most.

“My son and I built [the car],” Rutledge said. “I can thank him for [the roll cage]. He welded the roll cage in.”

Rutledge is itching to get back to the races. He said he plans to return to the races this Saturday at East Bay Raceway Park.