IT’S NICE TO BE RUDE: Two-Time Bandit Series Champ Sets Sights On 3-Peat
Ricky Rude has been driving trucks for more than 20 years, but for the last few years, no one has done it better.
Rude, who drives a 40-foot end dump hauling coal and bulk material by day, is the two-time defending points champion of the Bandit Series.
He captured his second consecutive big rig racing championship in 2018 after he took home 3 wins and 7 top five finishes.
Now racing under the banner of his own team, Rude Motorsports, he has his sights set on a third consecutive title. However, he knows it’s not going to be easy.
“I’ve got a huge target on my back,” Rude told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) in a recent interview. “I kind of feed off of pressure.”
Rude spent 25 years operating a landscaping business before making trucking his full-time career. He leased a truck on with his good friend and fellow Bandit driver, Alan Boles’ company, and now spends his days running 500 to 800 mile routes in the southeast near his home in Weaverville, North Carolina.
However, his passion is driving fast on a circle track with his fellow Bandit competitors in his rear view. “I can’t believe I’m out there with that bunch of nuts. I can’t believe I do that,” he said.
Nicknamed “Cupcake” for his trademark red racing suit and smooth blond hair resembling a red velvet cupcake, Rude makes sure he’s wearing his lucky red socks before every race.
“The guys make fun of me for it. My wife makes me wear them,” he admitted.
Rude has taken home more than $200,000 in winnings over the past two seasons, so it’s no wonder why his wife makes him wear the red socks.
Don’t be fooled though, to win on the Bandit Series requires an incredible amount of dedication and hard work.
Rude, like most drivers on the series, doesn’t have big corporate sponsors funding his racing efforts. It can get expensive, especially the travel that is required.
He traveled more than 18,000 miles last year alone. Plus, he says, “You gotta have a tractor-trailer to haul your truck,” which also isn’t cheap to operate.
“It’s not something anybody can do, but if you work hard you can attain it,” he explained.
Despite what his name might imply, Rude is actually known by his fellow competitors as a respectful driver and competitor.
“The only way you can obtain the championship trophy is by showing respect. We bump, we grind, but we race clean,” he said.
Craig “The Godfather” Kruckeberg is the CEO and a fellow competitor in the Bandit Series. He says Rude is a “respectful driver” and just has a great ability to drive a truck.
“Ricky is good. He’s been driving a truck since he’s been a kid,” Kruckeberg explained.
Does Rude’s day job driving a big rig give him an advantage on the track. “Hell yeah,” Kruckeberg said.
Rude agrees, but also revealed another one of the biggest keys to his success…. patience. “Gotta have a lot of patience,” he said.
“I’m not one of those drivers who wants to win on the first lap. You gotta know when not to put your truck in situations it shouldn’t be in.”
Rude says sometimes he second guesses himself when he doesn’t make an aggressive move, but that’s all part of keeping yourself and your truck out of harm’s way.
Rude knows when to live to race another day and keep accumulating points.
In the first event of 2019, last month at Mobile International Speedway, in Mobile, Alabama, Rude impressed with a second place finish in the feature race of the evening.
He currently sits only one point behind the leader, rookie Molinar Bendeguz.
Known as the “Hungarian Top Gun,” Bendeguz shocked the Bandits by winning his first race on the series.
On a night that saw numerous crashes, Rude said he was happy just to have made it to the finish line unscathed. “After tonight second place don’t suck that bad. My truck is on the ground,” he commented after the perilous night of racing.
Sometimes second place is all you need to stay in contention, but make no mistake, Rude doesn’t intend to finish the year in second place. “I’m coming for the championship,” he proclaimed.
Win or lose, Rude says what makes it all worth while are his fellow racers. “We’ve got a great bunch of guys. We are a family,” he declared.
Your next chance to see Rude and the rest of the Bandits square off again is Saturday, April 27th at Myrtle Beach Speedway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
You can buy your tickets HERE.
For those who can’t make it to the track, be sure to watch the live stream of all the racing action right here on TransportationNation.com.