Many race car drivers will strive their entire careers just to notch out a single major victory on the race track. The few who are able score multiple wins in their career normally do it in a single type of car or at a single race track. It takes a certain kind of driver to get it done across the board and that is what Erick Rudolph has done throughout his young career, 100 times to be exact.
Ten years ago, Rudolph started out in Asphalt Modified racing with some early success and victories. When things did not go his way, he changed gears and set his sights on the dirt, mainly around his home tracks in western New York, where success began to build. Over the years, that success has built up to 100 career feature wins, the latest coming this past weekend in West Virginia at Tyler County Speedway during the second round of the BRP Big Block Modified Tour.
“It feels really good. I was hoping it wouldn’t go too far into the season to get it, but we’re really excited about it,” Rudolph told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I never would have thought in a million years that it would be at Tyler County Speedway. Nevertheless, we’re very excited about it, definitely a big milestone. I have to thank my car owners that make it all possible and all my supporters and fans.”
While struggles on track hampered Rudolph for a number of seasons on asphalt and during the transition from asphalt to dirt, success in the past 18 months has helped swell the win total, with nearly a quarter of the wins alone coming in the 2016 season.
“Over the last few years we really honed in on having good race cars and getting more wins lately. Last year we had a career year, my best yet. The first few years we struggled, but now things have been getting better and better,” Rudolph explained.
The variety of racing venues in which he has recorded victories is also high for Rudolph, something which even he has had trouble keeping track of.
“I don’t even know the count on that, last year alone out of our 23 wins I think we won at 13 or 14 different tracks, so we’re not one-trick ponies. We were really good wherever we went last year and I hope that continues into this year,” Rudolph stated. “We raced at Tyler County a few years ago and didn’t have the success we had last Saturday. To go back there with some different thoughts and ideas into the car and have it work like that makes all the hard work pay off.”
During the early stages of his career, it seemed that Rudolph was destined for greatness on the asphalt, capturing wins on the Race of Champions Tour and a single win in 2009 on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, all as a teenager. As the years drew on, the success did not continue. Eventually he made the transition to dirt full-time, scoring back to back DIRTcar 358 Modified championships in 2013 and 2014, as well as a championship at Humberstone Speedway in 2013. He then became a dominating force at his home track Ransomville Speedway (NY) before finding his way to victory lane in the Super DIRTcar Series and the BRP Big Block Modified Tour, including five BRP wins and a championship in 2016.
Rudolph is also proud of the work that he has done with Lafler Chassis during the winters in the Indoor Auto Racing Championship, where he claimed championships in 2015 and 2016.
“A good chunk of the wins are from the TQ Midgets and we really have that figured out and I can’t wait to do that again this winter. TQ’s, Asphalt Modifieds, Dirt Modifieds, think we might even have a few Sportsman wins in there.”
As for the rest of 2017, things are about to get busy as tracks open up for points racing and tour racing steps things up, with Rudolph looking to up his game from a successful past year.
“In general, we’ll be at Ransomville most Fridays, Canandaigua most Saturdays, we’re going to follow the whole BRP Tour again, we’re defending champs on that. We’ll run a lot of Super DIRT races, some Brett Deyo (Short Track Super Series) races, overall, the count will be at 80 Dirt Modified races. Of course we’ll have the TQ Indoor season coming up at the end of the year. We’ll have a lot of fun doing it, but the goal is to win, and that’s what we’ll strive for.”
With 100 wins already under his belt and an ambitious schedule moving forward, the countdown to 200 is now underway.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Erick Rudolph Racing