MOUNT VERNON — As 16-year-old Kevin Rudrick grows, he continues to extend the fortunes of his famous local racing family.
Rudrick, this year’s junior dragsters major division points leader at Pacemakers Dragway Park, also drives a 1970 Plymouth Duster on Saturday afternoons in the adult sportsman’s class.
“I got runner-up,” said Rudrick during Saturday’s racing at Pacemakers. “I got beat in the finals by Ryan Norman. The car ran pretty good and I did pretty good.”
As Rudrick looks ahead, he also has to look in his rearview mirror at his younger brother, Ryan. Coming into Saturday’s competition, Ryan was tied for second in points in the junior dragster majors. Kevin knows Ryan is closing in fast.
“I actually haven’t raced against him this year, yet,” said Kevin Rudrick. “I raced against him a couple of times last year. He hasn’t beaten me, yet. I’m just waiting for him. One of these times he’ll probably whoop up on me.”
Even if that happens, Rudrick knows he has a full slate of racing in the afternoons and evenings to make up for it.
“I’ve been waiting to race that [Duster] for a few years,” said Rudrick, whose Plymouth is powered by a 318cc small block engine and can put out 300 horsepower. “We’ve been working on it and trying to get it fixed up. We finally got it done last September on my 16th birthday. I was able to bring it out here to race.”
It was a long winter of waiting for Rudrick. The 2009 season couldn’t get here fast enough. Now, not even a few mechanical difficulties can spoil the pleasure of this moment.
“Recently, I’ve had a little trouble with the car, but I think we’ve figured it out now,” said Rudrick.
A bad day at the drag strip, however, is better than a good day at school, according to Rudrick.
“I do OK in school,” said Rudrick, “but I could do a little bit better.”
There are fringe benefits to bringing his street-legal Duster to school.
“I brought it to school a couple of times. Yeah, some of the kids are pretty jealous,” said Rudrick.
It was a Chevrolet day in the the Super Pro and Pro Series on Saturday, as Doug Bates of Columbus, driving a ’71 Chevy Nova with a 496 cc engine, defeated his brother, Steve, in the Super Pro semi-finals. He went on to take the final from John Malaby in his ’96 Cavalier with a 383.
John Whitmer of New Albany drove his ’69 Camaro with a 383 outran Shelby resident Nick Hastings’ ’84 Mustang to win the Pro Class. Meanwhile, it was an all Ford Mustang final in the Sportsman’s Class as Hastings took the final from Chuck Tyack of Pataskala.