“Rapid” Randy Ritskes Began International Classic Run in 1988
OSWEGO, NY (August 6, 2015) – As the countdown continues toward the 59th running of the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway on Sunday, September 6, we move to the next Classic Driver on our list, Randy Ritskes.
Ritskes joins the list of Dave McKnight and Joey Payne, as drivers to have never won the Classic, but certainly made their mark over the last several years.
Ritskes began his longstanding run at the Classic all the way back in 1988, driving a family owned machine built by Clyde Booth. Driving as number 87, Ritskes finished 28th in ’88, but bounced back in a big way in 1989.
After qualifying 14th quick, Ritskes battled top runners Bentley Warren, Doug Didero, Gary Allbritain, and Steve Gioia throughout, running as high as second at one time in the race. Ritskes would eventually begin to run out of fuel late in the going, dropping him to a fourth place finish.
In just his second International Classic, Ritskes had already scored a top five run.
Unfortunately, following ’89 Ritskes hit a dry spell, not finishing in the top ten again until 1998 driving for Ed Shea.
Just two years later Ritskes put on one of the greatest drives in Oswego Speedway International Classic 200 history, only to finish just shy of victory.
In 2000, Ritskes piloted the Dunigan Racing No. 29, putting the car on the outside front row for the 200. Ritskes blasted to the point and looked as though he may be the first driver since Jim Shampine in 1980 to lead all 200-laps of the International Classic.
Greg Furlong put an end to those hopes, passing for the lead on lap 197 as Ritskes was pinned behind the lapped cars of Otto Sitterly and Ray Graham.
Furlong went on to his second victory, while Ritskes settled for second ahead of Payne.
The next top five run for Ritskes came in 2005, driving Howie Lane’s No. 97. Ritskes timed in seventh quick, chasing Didero and again Furlong across the line in hope of victory.
Ritskes came back on the weekly scene late in 2010 driving for Randy Darratt in the No. 88.
The 2010 Classic saw Ritskes take fifth and the following year, after time trialing on pole position, Ritskes took third behind Mike Lichty and Sitterly in 2011.
After running the 2014 edition of the International Classic for Jeff Locke, timing ninth quick with a finish of thirteenth, Ritskes hung up his helmet for 2015.
While Ritskes never made it to International Classic victory lane, there is no denying he drove the 200 as hard as any driver in its history.
To purchase tickets for Budweiser International Classic Weekend and the 59th annual Budweiser International Classic 200, call the Oswego Speedway box office today at (315) 342-0646.
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About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full-blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.