OSWEGO, NY – As the countdown continues toward the 59th running of the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway on 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 No. 87, Ritskes finished 28th in ’88, but bounced back in a big way in 1989.
After qualifying 14th quick in the No. 87, 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 4th place finish.
In just his second 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 the Ed Shea owned No. 37.
Just two years later Ritskes put on one of the greatest drives in Classic history, to only 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 would 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 would go onto victory, his second at the time, 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 7th 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 5th and the following year, after time trialing on pole position, Ritskes took 3rd behind Mike Lichty and Sitterly in ’11.
After running the 2014 edition of the Classic for Jeff Locke, timing 9th quick with a finish of 13th, Ritskes hung up his helmet for 2015.
While Ritskes never made it to Classic victory lane, there is no denying he drove the 200 as hard as any driver in its history.
For more information on Oswego Speedway and Budweiser International Classic Weekend visit online at www.oswegospeedway.com or call (315) 342-0646.