NHRA's 50 Greatest Drivers - #42: David Rampy
David Rampy is a leader in many of NHRA's statistical categories, including one that you won't find in the NHRA Media Guide: He's the undisputed all-time NHRA leader in humbleness. He's won NHRA season championships in three classes. He's tied for ...
David Rampy is a leader in many of NHRA's statistical categories, including one that you won't find in the NHRA Media Guide: He's the undisputed all-time NHRA leader in humbleness.
He's won NHRA season championships in three classes. He's tied for 10th among NHRA's all-time national event winners. He's one of a handful of drivers to win in two different classes at the same event. With all of those accomplishments as well as a long list of others, he could have one of the biggest egos in the business. But he doesn't. The reserved Alabama-driver does all of his talking on the racetrack.
Rampy emerged literally from nowhere, catching the drag racing bug despite a family with no previous racing interest. Early on while street and bracket racing, and even for a short time aboard horses, he discovered an ability to win races.
After conquering the world of IHRA drag racing, scoring a pair of championships in the 10.90-indexed Hot Rod class and another in 9.90 Super Rod competition, Rampy began racing in NHRA Super Gas competition in 1986.
Rampy never won an NHRA national event in Super Gas in those early years and didn't even make it to a final round until 1989. He began 1989 not knowing he would win his first NHRA championship, and in fact, trying to sell his winning "Sky High" Opel.
When no takers emerged, he went racing, and though he later reluctantly sold the Opel, he finished the year in a Monza. He won only one race, the Division 2 event at Moroso Motorsports Park, but went enough rounds to win the Winston championship.
After locking up the championship early in 1989, Rampy jumped at the chance to drive the Comp eliminator entry of Indiana RV dealer Harold Stout, a longtime sponsor of his. He made his debut in Stout's C/EA Firebird at the Heartland Nationals in Topeka in September and promptly won the event.
In 1990, instead of defending his Super Gas title, Rampy concentrated on Comp and won four more national events and four divisional events to clinch the championship, becoming the first driver in NHRA history to win back-to-back championships in different classes.
He added four more wins in 1991 and two in 1992 before finally losing a final round, but closed out the year with his 13th title.
Rampy added Pro Stock to his driving resume, wheeling Stout's entry for the 1993 and 1994 campaigns, during which he recorded a runner-up at the 1993 Sears Craftsman Nationals. While racing in Pro Stock, he showed his versatility by simultaneously competing in Super Stock (one runner-up in 1993) and Super Comp (a win and a runner-up in 1994), earning Rampy a reputation as one of the premier multiple-class threats.
The team competed in Pro Stock for just the two seasons, and Rampy competed in Super Gas and Super Comp in 1995 and 1996 and won his third career championship, in Super Comp, in 1995, then returned to Comp in 1997. During 1997, he competed in both Comp and Super Comp and, after winning one race in each class early in the year, made it to the final round in both classes at the event in Seattle, where he won Comp and was runner-up in Super Comp. He added three more wins that year for a total of six, but, amazingly, his greatest year was still ahead.
Less than a year (and two more Comp wins) later, Rampy made good on his second double final-round appearance, scoring in Comp and Super Comp at the 1998 Autolite Nationals, joining a short list of drivers to accomplish the feat. Incredibly, he put two cars into a final round just two races later, in Brainerd, Minn., where he won Super Comp and was runner-up in Comp. At the following event, the prestigious U.S. Nationals, he repeated the Brainerd outcome.
Four races later, in Dallas, Rampy again scored a Super Comp win and a Comp runner-up. All told, in 1998 he scored seven wins and six runner-ups, one of the finest seasons in the history of NHRA Sportsman racing.
On the anniversary of his first double-win, Rampy made yet another two-final appearance at the 1999 Autolite Nationals, where he again cashed in with his comp entry and was runner-up in Super Comp during a season in which he scored four wins and four more runner-ups.
His 2000 campaign netted him five more victories. Rampy's victory at the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions was a milestone accomplishment. It was his 38th career title, moving him, finally, into the hallowed top 10 of NHRA's all-time winners, tied with fellow Sportsman-racing great Edmond Richardson.
The victory was his 29th in Comp, tying him with the great David Nickens for all-time class honors. And his fifth trip to the winner's circle that year also tied the single-season class-victory record, which he already shared with Nickens.
Rampy undoubtedly will break that tie and become the Comp class' all-time winningest driver and continue his ascension up the ladder of NHRA's career-win list.
NHRA's Top 50 Drivers will be unveiled on NHRA.com and through the pages of National DRAGSTER, in reverse order throughout the 2001 season, with a schedule leading up to the naming of the top driver at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway on Nov. 11.
As NHRA celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2001, it has emerged as one of the most popular spectator sports, highlighted by a $50 million, 24-event, nationally televised tour. The NHRA has developed into the world's largest motorsports sanctioning body, with more than 80,000 members nationwide, and more than 140 member tracks.
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