By Janelle Bates
PRICE, Utah (May 20, 2022) – After racing his way to victory lane at Desert Thunder Raceway four straight nights, Matt Ruf raced his way into top 20 national standings for the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMods.
From Grand Junction, Colo., Ruf put together a streak of four straight wins at the Price oval, sweeping April 22-23 and May 6-7 doubleheaders. That string helped lift him to 18th in national standings released by IMCA last week.
Ruf began racing in 2009. In addition to competing in the Northern SportMod division, he also raced in mini stock 4-cylinders and Smiley’s Racing Products IMCA Southern SportMods. He bought his first Northern SportMod in 2016 and now races in the division exclusively, starting the 2022 season at Cocopah Speedway’s IMCA.TV Winter Nationals.
“My current car is a 2022 Razor Chassis built by Roth Racing Performance out of Platte Center, Neb.,” he said. His car, a green chassis decorated with large Scooby Doo decals, attracts attention and piques children’s interest in racing.
“My nieces and nephews nicknamed me Uncle Shaggy, so when I got into the Southern SportMod, we decided to go with this theme and it has been a hit everywhere we race,” he explained.
While Ruf was competing in the Duel in the Desert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in November, his daughter’s appendix ruptured, and she was life flighted to Denver.
“My wife and I flew to Denver to meet her and be there for her surgery. She was very sick and had sepsis. We spent 27 days in the hospital while she had three surgeries,” he said. “After the hospital stay, she was a little sore, but she made a full recovery.”
“We decided it would be best to downsize our racing program to help cover medical expenses.”
Ruf auctioned one of his cars in April. The auction gathered considerable interest and supportive messages from the racing community. With 149 entries, the auction was successful in raising money to help pay the medical bills.
“We were happy to get the car to a new owner so they could use it this year,” he said.
When Ruf doesn’t win a race, he goes out of his way to congratulate the drivers who won.
“Matt is a great person. He helps many people in the racing community and sponsors several drivers, including me, to help us get to the track every weekend,” said divisional competitor Camron Spangler. “He is a great driver, always fun to race with and very fast. Any time he shows up at the track, he is a force to be reckoned with.”
Ruf, who posted second- and third-place showings in the May 20-21 twinbill at Desert Thunder, is temporarily relocating to the Midwest for work. He plans to frequent Boone Speedway and Marshalltown Speedway in Iowa. He plans to visit as many other tracks as his busy schedule will allow.
“Ricky Thornton Jr. and Kyle Larson are probably my biggest inspirations. Ricky is probably one of the nicest guys I have met and always has time for fans and other racers. Very humble guy and good for the sport. Kyle made it to the biggest stage in racing and hasn’t forgotten his roots in dirt track racing,” Ruf said.