“I came back this year to prove a point. I can still win and run as good as anybody. I'm not going out on their terms, I'm going out on my terms.”
“I don't look at a racing paper or the internet. I don't need critics. I'm my own critic. I don't need approval or disapproval. I know when things are my fault. I'm my own toughest critic. It's the only way I know. If people don't think racing is mentally draining, they aren't a competitive person.”
“The only reason this happens is because of the great people I've been around. I've enjoyed racing for a lot of great owners, a lot of great mechanics and people that have been around the car.”
“I just never gave up, and that's what I'm trying to teach my boys. I never quit and that has paid off.”
-Fred “Fast Freddie” Rahmer
Whenever a living legend retires from his or her sport, it is always a big deal. It’s even bigger to you personally when that person is your favorite athlete. I am a sprint car racing fan. My favorite driver is Fred “Fast Freddie” Rahmer, and he is hanging up his helmet.
With more than 500 career wins and 25 track championships, the Salfordville, PA ace has nothing left to prove. He is arguably the best driver in Central Pennsylvania history. He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2009. This season he is going out in style with 55 top-10 finishes and six wins in 60 starts as of the time I am writing this. He has also claimed his 11th Lincoln Speedway championship and is fighting for a 9th Williams Grove Speedway championship.
Sometimes called the “Flyin’ Fossil”, Rahmer is definitely past the age where most drivers would have retired. People have been saying for years that he is washed up and past his prime, and you might have believed that if you looked at his 2012 season. He left the high-profile CJB Motorsports team late into the unsuccessful year, and people were thinking that it was the end. Not true. He joined a low budget team owned by Rob Sell, a team that had never won a race. It seems like there couldn’t have been a better match. Now in 2013, Rahmer is proving he can still race as well as anyone. He has the best consistency of any driver in PA, and another championship or two is the icing on the cake. Now that he has proved his point, he wishes to quietly go off into the sunset. The legend is retiring on his own terms.
I know what you’re thinking: So what? Numbers are only numbers, right? It’s how a person is off the track that makes a champion. This is true, and I’m happy to say that the biggest reason that I am a Fast Freddie Rahmer fan is that he is a class act on and off the race track. He will always take time to talk with fans. I was lucky enough to talk to Fred before I left for college in August. I shook his hand, and thanked him for many years of great racing. He asked me about college and, just like he does with every fan, he made me feel important.
We can learn a lot by looking at Rahmer’s career. He was old school. Any lucky breaks he had came because he created them. On the track he raced hard but clean, and he was known for putting the car in places where no one else would go. He didn’t always have the fastest car, but he made up for that with tenacity and a will to win. In the journey of life, you can’t expect to be handed opportunities, you have to work for them. Treat others with the respect they deserve, but don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone to get the job done. Don’t make excuses, and hold yourself to a high standard.
Whenever you feel discouraged and knocked down, look at the above quotes. They are simple, basic thoughts that anyone can live by. It doesn’t matter if you are a sprint car driver, a student, or an officer in your club, strive to be the best you can be. Going to the races won’t be the same without cheering for Fred Rahmer. I am thankful that I got to experience a part of this racing legend’s great career. Thank you, Mr. Rahmer.
2013/2014 PA 4-H State Council