SOUTH BOSTON, VA -- Andrea Ruotolo believes in hard work and making your dreams come true.
One of his dreams came true when he won the 20-lap Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division race on May 6 at South Boston Speedway and earned his first career victory in four years of racing in the division.
The South Boston, Virginia resident said he knew a win would eventually come.
“That’s why I’m trying so hard every week,” he explained.
“I don’t give up easily. You go for it until you get it. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’ve got to make your dream come true. If you give up, you’ve done everything for nothing.”
The win came in a dramatic fashion.
Ruotolo escaped a near-mishap at the midway point of the race when Jason DeCarlo’s car got sideways while racing beside him in the middle of the second turn. D.J. Moser, who was in a three-way battle for the lead with Ruotolo and DeCarlo, was right on DeCarlo’s rear bumper in the low lane. Ruotolo somehow managed to maintain control of his car. From there, he went on to edge Moser to score his first career win.
“It was crazy,” Ruotolo said.
“We were sideways. I don’t know how I kept the car in line.”
It has been a long journey to the win for the Italian-born racer. He got his introduction in racing with a couple of late-season starts in 2018 and saw some early success with a fifth-place finish in his first start.
Ruotolo, now in his fourth full season of competing in the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division, has logged a win, a pole, 19 Top-5 finishes and 31 Top-10 finishes in a total of 35 starts dating back to the start of the 2019 season. In 2019 and 2021 Ruotolo finished in the top five in the final division point standings, with his fourth-place effort in 2021 being his best points result.
Thus far in 2023, Ruotolo has a win, two Top-5 finishes, 3 Top-10 finishes, and stands in fourth place in the division point standings, 12 points behind leader Dillon Davis of Nathalie, Virginia.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” Ruotolo remarked of his journey in racing.
“I’ve been working a lot and learning a lot. There have been a lot of mistakes and a lot of bad luck, but I finally got a win.”
In addition to competing in the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division, Ruotolo has competed sporadically in the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division. He made five starts in the division during the 2022 season, posting two Top-5 finishes and four Top-10 finishes. His best finish last year was a fourth-place effort. He competed in the 2023 season-opening event in the division and posted an eighth-place finish.
When asked about his aspirations of moving up through the racing ranks, the South Boston, Virginia restaurant owner says he is happy doing what he is doing.
“I’m good where I am,” Ruotolo explained.
“If I have fun and the people around me have fun, that’s what I want. I might think about moving up to Pure Stock one day. I’m good where I am. It’s a small division, it’s fun.”
The next event at South Boston Speedway is the Bojangles Night Race on Saturday night, June 3. Six races are slated for that event with twin 75-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division headlining the night’s racing action.
Fans will also see a 50-lap race for the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division, twin 15-lap races for the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division, and a 20-lap race for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division.
Registration and pit gates will open at 2 p.m. Frontstretch spectator gates will open at 3:20 p.m. and practice starts at 3:30 p.m. Backstretch spectator and tailgate section gates will open at 5:30 P.M. Qualifying starts at 6 p.m. and the first race will get the green flag at 7 p.m.
Advance adult general admission tickets for the June 3 Bojangles Night Race event are priced at $12 each and may be purchased online on South Boston Speedway’s website, www.southbostonspeedway.com, or by calling the speedway office at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.
Tickets at the gate on race day will be $15 each. Seniors ages 65 and older, military, healthcare workers, and students (with ID) can purchase tickets for $12 each at the gate on race day.
Fans and competitors can find the latest news and updates from South Boston Speedway on the speedway’s website, www.southbostonspeedway.com, on the track’s social media channels, and by phoning the speedway at 1-434-572-4947 or toll free 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.