The names that first come to mind when Race of Champions Asphalt Modifieds are mentioned may be nearly the same to many; however, there are numerous committed supporters that keep the series moving forward in addition to the usual favorites.
Rochester, New York’s Chris Ridsdale is one of the competitors that can be seen in the pit area at any RoC event. Although the C.R. 1 Racing team, named after his contracting business, has yet to achieve a top 10 in the series, the tight-knit group works hard every race to gradually improve on their prior result.
Ridsdale has actually been around the racing circle for quite a while. Beginning as a crew member on a Dirt Sportsman Modified team in the early 1990s, the now 55-year-old decided to give driving a try.
After a little over five years behind the wheel and some success at tracks such as Canandaigua, Rolling Wheels, Utica-Rome, Lebanon Valley, and even the New York State Fairgrounds, Ridsdale decided to get out of the dirt scene and went looking for an asphalt car. A deal came about that catapulted him right into the tough Tour-Type Modified ranks.
“I was going to buy a Sport Mod and a big Mod became available,” Ridsdale recently told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I bought that and ran at Spencer Speedway (NY) for a few years when they ran them regularly. Then they cut the show out for the big Mods in New York state so we had no place else to go really.”
At that juncture, the 2006 Spencer Speedway Rookie of the Year shifted focus and became an occasional RoC competitor. His first few attempts from 2006 through the beginning of 2008 were a struggle, having difficulty qualifying for the main event. Nevertheless, the team kept pressing on to the point of being a fixture in the feature field since focusing on running a full schedule in 2011, especially throughout the past two seasons.
The opportunity to travel to a wide variety of tracks excites Ridsdale, but at the same time the RoC offers a flexible schedule.
“We are a relatively low budget team,” Ridsdale indicated. “The guys with the money run the (NASCAR) Tour and the RoC and run the weekly stuff too, but I’m just getting to the age now where I don’t want to run every Friday night. I like the RoC schedule because it has some gaps in there. I like the bigger tracks, the ones with more speed.”
The 2016 season alone has seen Ridsdale add three new tracks to his list of nearly 20 visited, including an early season stay in Pennsylvania for a 50-lap event at Evergreen Raceway the night after the Mahoning RoC opener. It turned out to be one of their best overall performances to date, and as a small team fit in with their realistic expectations.
“According to the transponders, we were sixth fastest in practice,” Ridsdale mentioned. “Then we got some front end damage earlier in the race and the car started overheating. I don’t necessarily have to win a race. I would very much like to, but if I can get the respect from the other drivers that’s what we’re looking for.”
As the season goes on, Ridsdale and team will continue their search for improvement, and that elusive but approachable top 10 finish. On his side is an experienced car builder and successful former racer from the region.
“I should be a top 10 car, I think,” Ridsdale commented. “We have a new car built by (Kirk) Rutherford. He builds the chassis and everything so we’re taking this time to get all the bugs worked out and we’re getting closer every week. He’s not able to drive anymore after an accident at Spencer, but he builds good cars. He helps a lot of people out.”
A return to Lancaster National Speedway for the Second Annual “Ol’ Boy Cup 60”, which will be streamed live via pay-per-view on Speed51 TV, is where one of Ridsdale’s best finishes of the season came back in May. In addition, going back to the site of the track closest to home, Spencer Speedway later in July has the team optimistic for what is to come.
“I definitely think some of our better races are coming up. We’re just getting the program going. We have a new motor in there now. We picked up a new Morgantini. I really think our best races are ahead of us.”
Race fans can watch Ridsdale and the rest of the RoC competitors on the live pay-per-view broadcast from Lancaster on Thursday night. Live video tickets for that race can be purchased for $19.99 by clicking here.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Daryl Canfield