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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of April 30, 1999

Almost since the beginning of motorsport there have been racers who have done "whatever it takes" to finance their habit/hobby/addiction. (I only have to look in the mirror to see a prime example). And sometimes, the "whatever" took a direction not entirely aligned with the rules and regulations of civilized society.

Think the rulebook we race under has lots of pages and rules? Have you ever seen how many volumes the Criminal Code consists of? In short, there are infinitely more ways to run afoul of the real world "tech inspectors" than just being underweight on the scales or running too much overdrive or the wrong fuel. And the penalties tend to be somewhat more severe and long lasting.

For quite some time now, I've wanted to write the definitive story about all those losers that have permeated the sport of drag racing over the years. I'm not sure who was the first racer to finance his operation by illegal or immoral means and I'll surely never live long enough to see the last, but to list all the people who have gone that route and detail their stories would be a task beyond my limited abilities and means. Besides, it could put me in a position I wouldn't want to be in, like six feet under, if I dropped the wrong names. And to most people it would just be another negative, muck-raking, Drudge-like story of the type that I've become infamous for.

However, since the latest revelation of shady dealing concerns an aspiring Indy-car racer, I feel like I can take a few free shots without sullying the sport of drag racing. Of course, this fellow lives just a few miles from me and could come over and dot my I's and cross my T's... but since I'll be on a plane to the South Pacific in less than a week... let's throw a few rocks and then run away and hide.

For the past few years, West Vancouver's David Rutledge has pursued his dreams of landing an Indy-car ride. Working his way up through various formula cars, to the stepping-off point of Indy lights last season, David has progressed smoothly and professionally. Armed with some talent and an excellent promotional campaign, he has come to be almost a household name in Western Canada. Until last week that is. A very small item in the business section of a local daily paper listed a lawsuit involving his racing team. Here it is:

Plaintiff: Race Management Group Ltd., c/o 2500-1055 Dunsmuir, Vancouver

Defendants: Rutledge Racing Team, a Division of Fleming Financial Corp., 8th floor - 1285 W. Broadway, Vancouver; and Fleming Financial Corp., 800 - 1285 W. Broadway, Vancouver; and Donald G. Rutledge, 250 - 1455 Bellevue, West Vancouver.

Claim: $651,437.02 for monies owing on the lease of a race car, pursuant to a previous judgement.

Gee, quite a bit of money to be owing for a race car lease, eh? Seems that young David and his father Donald built the whole deal with a house of cards and now somebody has called their bluff. A follow-up to the story appeared in this week's edition of Business in Vancouver, headlined with "Lawsuit of the Week". The BIV item provided a few more details, which are reproduced below:

West Vancouver race car promoter Donald Rutledge and Rutledge Racing Team, a division of Fleming Financial Corp., face a $651,000 enforcement suit.

Race Management Group Ltd. of Calgary claims it filed suit in Alberta on December 11, 1998, relating to the lease of a race car in Alberta, guaranteed by Fleming and Rutledge.

Race Management claims it won a default judgement of $701,437 on February 22 in Alberta, but only one payment of $50,000 has been made so far. Lawyer Heather Craig of Broughton Peterson Yang Anderson seeks $651,437 plus interest.

Looks like another "big-time" operator has crashed and burned, possibly taking his son's career down the toilet, along with his business. It will be very interesting to follow the developments in this story, especially the "spin" that will be put on it by the Rutledge's. Stay tuned for any updates we find on this one.

On a much sadder note, a local restuarant, well-known to the hot rodding fraternity has filed for bankruptcy. Cruisers Pit Stop Diner has pulled the financial plug and presumably will be gone (possibly even closed by now). With total assets listed at $50,934 and total liabilities listed at $171,637 the writing was on the wall. In lots of red ink.

At this point I have no idea why this happened, but the restaurant industry sees many more failures than successes and sometimes, despite the best intentions and efforts, this type of action occurs. While I never ate there, Cruisers was a local icon for racers and rodders and a supporter of the sport. It will be sadly missed I'm sure.

By the way, does anyone know if they still have my old funny car body sitting on the roof? Wonder what will happen to it? Note to anyone thinking of taking it as a souvenir: Better bring a crane, or at least half a dozen strong guys to carry it... that sucker weighs a ton! I used to think there was a layer of steel inside all that fibreglass.

That's all the "good" news for Friday, maybe we'll see some happy stories develop out of the Pennzoil Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park this weekend. Remember, for the latest drag racing news and views, even if we have to make it up ourselves, tune in to this page.

Black Bar
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