Richard Lee "Ricky" Rudd (born September 12, 1956) is a former American NASCAR driver. Rudd is known as the "Iron Man" of NASCAR; having held the record for most consecutive NASCAR starts(that is, every NASCAR sanctioned series) until being surpassed by Jeff Gordon near the conclusion of the 2015 season. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, Rudd had made 788 consecutive starts. He retired in 2007 with 23 career wins under his belt. He was named the 2006 Virginian of the Year and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. In October 2010, he was selected to the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, which honors those who have contributed to sports in southeastern Virginia.
Tropes commonly associated with Ricky Rudd include:
- Alliterative Name
- Badass Driver: Most race drivers can be considered this, but special mention goes to his win in the 1998 NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville. Here the temperature was already hovering on the 90s, but to make matters worse, his cooling system failed on the first lap. After winning, he was interviewed while on the verge of collapsing and had to be hospitalized.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Averted. He crashed in the 1984 Busch Clash at Daytona, and as a result his eyes were swollen shut. He taped them open and managed to finished 7th in the following Daytona 500.
- No One Could Survive That!: His aforementioned crash.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: In the 1989 Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro, Rudd and Dale Earnhardt made contact on the final lap and both of them spun out, costing Dale Earnhardt his fourth championship. The teams fought afterwards. When interviewed and asked about what they were talking about, Ricky said, "Oh, I don't know something about the weather?"
- Product Placement: Defied. Hated the then-new custom of everyone mentioning every last sponsor on the car and even said, "They are just turning us into their puppets".
- Younger and Hipper: One of his reasons for retirement in 2007-when he was a ripe old 51-was that "racing is becoming a young man's sport."