Be­hind the Scenes

Drag Racer - - CONTENTS -

WHILE THE SPORT OF DRAG RACING PRO­VIDES AMPLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMPETITORS IN THE PRO RANKS TO EARN THEIR LIVELIHOOD DO­ING WHAT THEY LOVE,

THERE ARE PRE­CIOUS FEW CHANCES FOR SPORTSMAN RACERS TO DO THE SAME. You can prob­a­bly count them all on one hand.

One of the lucky few is known as “Rambo” David Rampy.

For nearly 35 years, the Pied­mont, Alabama, res­i­dent has been trav­el­ing the NHRA cir­cuit (plus IHRA in the ’80s) in search of the win­ner’s cir­cle. He’s found it an as­tound­ing 95 times at NHRA na­tional events, plus at 55 di­vi­sional ti­tles and as­sorted other ma­jor events.

It all be­gan in 1973 when David tran­si­tioned from an oc­ca­sional il­licit par­tic­i­pant in “con­tests of speed” to the pre­ferred en­vi­ron­ment of a sanc­tioned drag strip—Sy­la­cauga in par­tic­u­lar. His weapon of choice was a four-speed

’66 Chev­elle.

Rampy first struck pay dirt in 1983, win­ning Su­per Stock Elim­i­na­tor at NHRA’s Ca­jun Na­tion­als. His mount was a Pon­tiac GTO owned by his fu­ture fa­ther-in-law, Sonny Ray. He and Sonny’s daugh­ter, Kelly, tied the knot in 1986, and she’s been an im­por­tant part of the equa­tion ever since, tend­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tive needs of a full sched­ule. Mean­while, Rampy has plenty on his plate main­tain­ing a va­ri­ety of race cars, in­clud­ing a ’93 S-10 bracket racer for 26-year-old son Chase.

A scan of Rampy’s racing ré­sumé shows the ma­jor­ity of his wins have come in Competition Elim­i­na­tor. As the most pro­lific Comp racer in the sport’s his­tory, he’s of­ten ques­tioned about the class’ fu­ture and how to rein­vig­o­rate it in the face of

dwin­dling par­tic­i­pa­tion. In typ­i­cal form, un­der­scor­ing his hum­ble na­ture, Rampy al­lows as how, “There are lots of Comp cars sit­ting in garages all over the coun­try. What NHRA needs to do is ask the own­ers of those cars why they’re not racing. If [the NHRA] can over­come just some of those ob­sta­cles, we’d be in a bet­ter place.”

In ad­di­tion to his many wins in Comp, Rampy has scored in other classes as well: Su­per Comp, Su­per Gas, Stock, and most no­tably, Su­per Stock. He’s dou­bled up no less than four times, win­ning both cat­e­gories at the same event.

While hop­ping from one car to the next might seem chal­leng­ing, Rampy re­it­er­ates, “With both cars you’re driv­ing off the bot­tom bulb, so that’s a con­stant. And, de­pend­ing on who you’re racing, the clo­sure rate can be sim­i­lar.” Rampy has de­vel­oped an acute feel for tak­ing the stripe. With S/S or Stock you can break out, while in Comp you can set your­self up for a CIC penalty.

For many years, Rampy part­nered with In­di­ana RV dealer Harold Stout, and they en­joyed much suc­cess (although a brief foray into the Pro Stock ranks in the early ’90s didn’t pro­vide the an­tic­i­pated div­i­dends). Other as­so­ci­a­tions through­out the years in­cluded Boo Weekly, and most re­cently, Ray Skill­man of Skill­man Chevro­let, and Richard Free­man and Al­lan Pat­ter­son with Pat­ter­son-Elite.

David rel­ishes his first Wally given its break­through promi­nence and family ties, and his 50th was cer­tainly a mile­stone vic­tory, but in Rampy’s mind, his most re­cent vic­tory at Route 66 Race­way in Joliet, Illi­nois (num­ber 95), was es­pe­cially sweet. “Given the lay­out of the track and the way things worked out, we were able to share the win­ner’s cir­cle pho­tos with the Skill­mans and Pat­ter­sons,” he said. “I’ve been re­ly­ing on Pat­ter­son/Elite en­gines for most of my ca­reer, and the Skill­man family has been most sup­port­ive of our ef­forts.”

What’s next on Rampy’s agenda? As of this writ­ing, he’s lead­ing the Lu­cas Oil Drag Racing Se­ries na­tional points in Comp Elim­i­na­tor and is sec­ond in Su­per Stock, just a few points out of the lead—so cap­tur­ing an NHRA World Cham­pi­onship or two is cer­tainly in the cards. And then there’s that magic 100 num­ber. With fel­low Sportsman stand­out Dan Fletcher nab­bing his hun­dredth Wally at the Joliet event, the in­cen­tive is cer­tainly there. Given the per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity of Rampy’s cars, cou­pled with his ob­vi­ous driv­ing skills, it’s not a mat­ter of if, but rather when.

 David Rampy: #42 of NHRA’s

Top 50 Driv­ers. Rampy was one of only three true sportsman driv­ers to be hon­ored. UP­DATE: July 23, Rampy scored

96th win.

 Rampy’s Su­per Stock Ca­maro is also a po­tent multi­na­tional event win­ner. As of this writ­ing, he’s first in Comp and sec­ond in Su­per Stock. We could very well be look­ing at a dou­ble world champ.

 Rampy’s 2017 NHRA Route 66 win was es­pe­cially sweet. He was able to share the win­ner’s cir­cle with the Skill­man clan (Drew won Pro Stock) and the folks from Pat­ter­son Elite en­gines.

 When you think of Rampy, this is the im­age that first comes to mind, his Comp Elim­i­na­tor road­ster.

 The first of 96: Rampy’s Su­per Stock win at NHRA’s 1983 Ca­jun Na­tion­als.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.