Racing Ruths

Washougal family participates in stock car racing

Photos by Mike Weber/For the Post-Record Washougal’s Brad Ruth (No. 10 black car on left) maneuvers around turn one of River City Speedway’s quarter-mile clay oval track during the trophy dash race July 27, at the Columbia County Fairgrounds motorsports facility in St. Helens, Ore.

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The Ruth Racing team of Washougal competes in stock car racing each week from May through September. Pictured (from left to right): Sherry Totten, Brad Ruth, Blake Berten, Robyn Ruth, Shawnette Driskell and Scott Ruth.

The seven-member Ruth Racing team of Washougal, has enjoyed a successful season of stock car racing at River City Speedway in St. Helens, Ore.

The slogan listed on the team’s uniform is “Go Fast Turn Left,” which is something Brad Ruth has been doing very effectively and it’s helped him become a top contender for a Columbia County Racing Association (CCRA) Division Championship.

Ruth, 25, has competed well among a group of 20 drivers in the speedway’s mini stock class (four-cylinder cars). He has recorded top-five finishes in seven of eight 25-lap main events, including three wins while driving his 1985 Toyota Celica and he’s ranked second in the series point standings.

“It sure would be great to win the championship,” said Ruth, a 2006 Washougal High graduate who was atop the standings for the first two months of the season. “I broke my collarbone in June when I fell off a bicycle, so that made it a little more difficult for me to drive the race car. I’m feeling much better now, so we’re hoping to continue focusing on our goal of winning the division title.”

Brad has proven to be one of the fastest drivers too, evidenced by his first place performance in qualifying on the quarter-mile clay oval track. On June 16, Brad timed in with a season best time at 16.06 seconds and he was the top qualifier again at 16.28 on July 27. Brad was runner-up in the last race Aug. 3 to Chris Gaboury of Vancouver.

Brad kicked off the season by winning the first main event of his three-year career May 4. He grabbed his second checkered flag a week later.

Brad’s sister Robyn, 16, also competes at St. Helens while driving a 1981 Celica. She finished 12th out of a 15-car field in the Aug. 3 mini stock main event. Robyn, a first-year driver and a top contender for the division Rookie-of-the-Year Award, recorded a season best 11th out of 17 cars on June 1 and she’s ranked 10th in the standings.

“I’m having lots of fun and my goal is to win the Rookie-of-the-Year Award, which would really be cool,” said Robyn, an incoming Washougal High junior. “I used to come here a lot when I was younger and watch my dad (Scott Ruth) and brother race, so I’ve kind of grown up in a motor sports oriented family. As soon as I was old enough to drive, I wanted to start competing in stock car races.”

Robyn’s boyfriend, Blake Berten of Washougal, attended the races in St. Helens for his first time July 27 and helped work on the two cars in the pit area.

“I like helping out, I’m having lots of fun and I’m planning on coming back for every race for the remainder of the season,” said Berten, a Washougal High junior.

Scott Ruth, 48, competed at Portland Speedway in the street stock class back in 1987 and 1988. Portland’s track closed in 2001, and Scott resumed his motor sports career in 2003. He competed in the street stocks in St. Helens while driving his Pontiac Firebird for four seasons.

“I was really just trying to focus on getting Brad involved in motor sports,” said Scott. “We were both driving our cars here a couple of years and I won one main event too, so it was lots of fun. Then we took some time off following the 2006 season, and we just started racing again this year. It’s a lot of fun and it’s something we can all do together as a family. I would like to put a car together for me do drive again in street stocks, but it’s kind of an expensive hobby.”

Brad had some successful seasons. He took fourth place in 2005 and he was sixth in 2006.

Scott and his girlfriend, Shawnette Driskell, provide a majority of the financial support for Ruth Racing since they currently don’t have any sponsors, like many of their competitors do. Scott purchased Brad’s 1985 Celica for $1,500 a few years ago from former driver Mark Guindon, who won the 2001 mini stock champion with the very same car. The Celica has a 2,200 cubic-centimeter engine with a five-speed manual transmission.

“I never participated in the traditional type of athletic sports when I was younger,” said Scott, who works as an ironworker at Oregon Iron Works in Clackamas, Ore. “I was always involved in various forms of motor sports, such as stock car racing, go-karts and dune buggys and so I’ve always wanted to continue doing it.”

Scott instructs his young pit crew members Robyn, Blake, Sherry Totten and Casey Vandam (Brad’s girlfriend) what they can do to help with maintenance and car repairs.

“I try to help as much as I can, and I’ll change the oil and do lots of other different things,” said Robyn. “Dad shows me what to do and then I’ll do it. I really like working on the cars.”

There are four events left on the 13-race schedule, which consists of Saturday events from May through September.

The River City Speedway opens at 2:30 p.m. for qualifying, and racing action begins at 5 p.m.

A special Labor Day weekend annual event at the speedway includes the Reser’s Fine Foods Races Aug. 31 to Sept. 1.

For more information, visit www.river-city-speedway.com.