Rudd looks ahead while auctioning his past By Marty Smith MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 1, 1999) Over the next two days, Ricky Rudd will "lose" six years of his life. On Wednesday morning, Rudd opened the doors of the Rudd Performance Motorsports ...
Rudd looks ahead while auctioning his past By Marty Smith
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 1, 1999) Over the next two days, Ricky Rudd will "lose" six years of his life. On Wednesday morning, Rudd opened the doors of the Rudd Performance Motorsports shop to auction off practically everything he accumulated in six years as owner/driver of the No. 10 Tide Fords in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. And, while it is certainly an emotional time for the veteran driver, the hectic preparation process hasn't allowed him time to think about the consequences of the sale.
Monday morning could be a different story.
"When I walk in here on Monday and the place is empty, that's when it will probably all hit me at once," said Rudd, whose 16-year streak of winning at least one race a season came to a close this year.
Earlier in the season, Rudd signed a deal with Robert Yates to drive the hallowed No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford, ending his reign over a self-owned team that fell victim to a lack of funding. Now, all he wants to do is drive. The headaches that come with ownership prompted Rudd's decision to sell his team, and in the three months since the deal was announced, he has become more and more aware that the decision was indeed tardy.
"I have no bitter feelings," Rudd said. "Now I look back and think, 'Gosh, I should have done this years ago.' I have a young son (Landon) at home, and if I were to own a team it would mean more and more time at the shop. I'm not willing to make the total sacrifice to be an owner with my boy at home. Now I'm going to the premiere team in the sport, and my total focus is driving that 28 car."
In order to make the move to RYR easier, two of Rudd's favorite cars will become part of the Yates stable. Rudd's other cars -- he said 18 of them -- will be rolled onto the auction block, along with the team transporter and what looked like millions of parts, engines, jacks and various equipment. Rudd said there was no way he'd break even in the auction, but it was his best alternative.
"I'm not sure how it'll all shake out money-wise," Rudd said. "Either way, I'm ready to lay it to rest and forget about it. I've got a few good years of driving left in me and I don't have time to worry about selling a race team. This is the easiest and most efficient way to do it for me."
There was a good turnout for the event Wednesday. Among those in attendance were NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Jimmy Spencer and Johnny Benson. Spencer owns a NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division operation, and Benson told ESPN that he was there searching for parts for his father, who is involved in short-track racing around Benson's Michigan home.
As for Rudd, a chapter in his racing career and his life will be closed when the auction ends Friday. He did say that had sponsor Tide -- which left Rudd to back a new NASCAR Winston Cup Series operation formed by owner Cal Wells -- come back to RPM, he "wouldn't be having this conversation right now." Even so, he's ready to move on.
"I'll probably get a little sad when I see those race cars loaded up on trucks and rolled away," he said. "That'll bother me a little. The hardest day was the day before I signed with Yates. I walked into the shop and told the guys that the sponsorship deal wasn't working out, and that I was sorry but I was gonna do something else next year. That was real hard.
"I'm ready for this though. I've helped a lot of those guys find new jobs. I can't wait to join Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates and get this thing going."
The No. 28 team will move into Rudd's shop after everything is removed and the site is refurbished, a spokesman for the team said.
During his six seasons as an owner/driver, Rudd beat the odds by winning six races and finishing in the top-10 67 times.
Ford Racing Dale Jarrett 1999 Driver of the Year
Bill Elliott Voted NASCAR's Most Popular Driver