Our next inductee, a Norfolk County (now Chesapeake) native, began his racing career at age nine on local go-kart tracks, and progressed to motorcross as a teenager. In fact, he did not climb behind the wheel of a stock car until practicing for his NASCAR debut at North Carolina Speedway in 1975. He learned quickly, though, being named NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1977, while driving for a team owned by his father, Al Rudd Sr.
Over the next 10 years, he drove for some of the sport’s top owners, including Junie Donlavey, Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick, earning 14 trips to victory lane and the 1992 International Race of Champions, or IROC, title. In 1994, though, he was ready for a new challenge—team ownership. As an owner and driver, he raced in the legendary #10 Tide car.
In 1997, this inductee became the first owner/driver to winner the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His winning car was the first exhibit installed at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame; it was crane-lifted onto the second floor of the museum before the roof was finished.
Since the year 2000, he has also driven for Robert Yates Racing and for the Wood Brothers, who were inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame last year. He retired from racing at the end of the 2005 season, finishing #7 on the career winnings list, but after a year away from the track, decided to return to full-time competition in 2007. He currently drives the #88 Snickers car for Robert Yates Racing.
In 2002, this driver was nicknamed NASCAR’s “Ironman” after his 656th consecutive career start at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With the final race in 2005, his total had reached 788 career starts, an almost unbeatable record.
In 2006, he was named Virginian of the Year by the Virginia Press Association, an honor he shares with Arthur Ashe (1982, VSHF Class of 1979) and Willie Lanier (1986, VSHF Class of 1986).