Amy Ruman Carries On Family Tradition

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Amy Ruman (Chris Clark photo)

Editor’s Note: Amy Ruman recently wrapped up the Trans-Am championship. The following is an excerpt from a story about Ruman written by John Jeppeson in the November issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.

Amy Ruman (Chris Clark photo)
Amy Ruman (Chris Clark photo)

Amy Ruman, who is 41, has been around racing her entire life. The competitive fire was lit by her parents, Bob and Barb. They traveled all over the country with Amy and her sister, Niki.

“It was great,” Ruman recalled. “We traveled all around the country and got to visit some really cool places. We were always getting into something at the track as kids, whether it was riding mini dirt bikes, go-karts or trying to get a ride in the ’Vette (both parents drove Corvettes in autocross competition) when they did hot pace laps.”

It’s no surprise Amy Ruman’s competitive fire was ignited at an early age.

“I played a lot of sports growing up and always had that competitive edge to my personality,” Ruman confessed. “I knew I always had the need for speed and wanted to be a race car driver, so I started autocrossing when I was 18 (that was the minimum-age requirement at the time).

Ruman learned the art of going “slow fast” from her mom, who has coached her since the beginning of her racing career.

The Rumans decided to give their daughters a shot at road racing. They started in the SCCA Spec Racer class. Some have dissed the closed-wheel race cars, calling them “Sports Real Slow.” Maybe so, but the class is a great way to learn race craft. All the cars are identical and tightly controlled to virtually eliminate cheating.

The class is very popular, placing a premium on driver skill. And because the cars are equal, drivers must be very smooth to prevent scrubbing speed. Several highly successful professional racers, such as Dorsey Schroeder, got their start in the class. Schroeder won the 1989 Trans-Am championship.

In another interesting twist to Amy Ruman’s story, the family initially rented Spec Racers from Dave Skinner, a well-known racing mechanic before they bought their own cars. Skinner and Niki Ruman took a liking to each other and were later married. Skinner is now Amy’s crew chief, keeping everything in the family.

Amy Ruman’s quest for bigger and faster race cars escalated.

“I actually ran in a few other pro series before I started in Trans-Am, but always knew that’s where I wanted to be,” she said. “I ran Pro Spec Racer for years and also participated in the Women’s Global GT Series for a couple of years after Lyn St. James invited my sister and me to run.”

Ruman’s determination and confidence grew as she showed all comers she was not the least bit intimidated by the big, fast and heavy race cars, frequently showing her taillights to the men she raced against. She credits her dad’s wise counsel for her success.

“My dad consistently ran the Trans-Am Series from 1996-2004,” Amy Ruman said. “He had some unexpected health issues in 2003 and was diagnosed with kidney cancer, but returned to racing that same year and is cancer free.”

Amy Ruman moved up the ladder with a run for the SCCA national title.

“In 2002, I started racing SCCA national GT-1 events and attending the Runoffs, sharing the car with my dad who was still racing in Trans-Am,” she explained. “In 2005, he decided to step away and focus on engineering and data for me and that’s when I ran my first Trans-Am race at the Cleveland Grand Prix. From then on, I ran consistently in GT-1 and Trans-Am.”

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John Jeppesen
John Jeppesen has been involved in motorsports since the mid-70’s. He raced vintage sports cars and is a graduate of Elf’s école de pilotage driving school. He has held IndyCar, IMSA and NASCAR PR positions.