SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (Aug. 18, 2021) -- There is a smile on Andrea Ruotolo’s face much of the time when he is competing at South Boston Speedway. For Ruotolo, who was born and raised just outside of Naples, Italy, competing in the speedway’s Budweiser Hornets Division is about one thing – having fun.
“It’s a hobby,” Ruotolo explained. “It’s just for fun. Some people race because they want to be somebody. For me, it’s a little bit different. Working six days a week and sometimes at night you really don’t have time for yourself. It’s just something I like.
“I’m happy to be there racing,” he continued. "Coming from a different country, you come here and you do your thing and then you start getting involved in something that you dream to do. I love what I'm doing. It's fun and that's how it's got to be. The moment that I'm going to get upset and not have fun anymore, that's when I should not race anymore."
The South Boston, Virginia resident is best-known as the owner of Italian Delight Family Restaurant which is sponsoring Saturday night’s Italian Delight Family Restaurant Night at the Races event at South Boston Speedway. Ruotolo will occupy a unique dual role Saturday night as event sponsor and a competitor in the 15-lap Budweiser Hornets Division race that will be part of Saturday night’s six-race program at South Boston Speedway.
In addition to sponsoring and competing in Saturday night’s Italian Delight Family Restaurant Night at the Races event, Ruotolo also sponsors the car Austin Thaxton of South Boston, Virginia races in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division.
Ruotolo began racing in the Budweiser Hornets Division in 2018, making three starts that season. It was a tough start, with Ruotolo being involved in a wreck in one race and having the engine in his car expire in another outing. For some people that would be enough to make them want to quit. It was not that way for Ruotolo.
“I wasn’t as frustrated as other people would be,” Ruotolo pointed out. “It was a new thing for me. When you do something new, something you see other people do, when you do it, it makes you happy with yourself.”
Ruotolo returned to the .4-mile South Boston Speedway oval in 2019, raced the full schedule of events in the Budweiser Hornets Division and earned five Top-Five finishes in a dozen starts.
The 2021 season is Ruotolo’s best season thus far, with Top-Five finishes in all eight starts. That is good enough to put him in fourth place in South Boston Speedway’s Budweiser Hornets Division point standings. He sits only 13 points out of third place with two points races remaining in South Boston Speedway’s 2021 season schedule.
Ruotolo is pleased with what he has accomplished thus far this season, but he is a little disappointed at the same time.
“What I’m doing is still a blast,” said Ruotolo. “Honestly, I’m a little disappointed right now because I’m starting to be competitive. The first four or five races I was fifth, fifth, fifth, fourth, fifth. I’ve been fifth, fourth, second, and third in the last race. I’m up there now. Now I’m kind of one of the big ones in my division. For the past two or three races I feel like a win is close. I want to win, and I’m going to try to win.”
Ruotolo says he is looking at possibly moving up to another division in the future.
“We’re already talking about jumping up a division and doing something different, maybe Limited, maybe Pure Stock,” he said. “Limited is doable. Pure Stock is definitely doable. Late Model, I don’t think so. It’s going to be too much. I think Late Model is out of my league.”
Saturday night’s Italian Delight Family Restaurant Night at the Races event at South Boston Speedway features a six-race card headlined by twin 75-lap races for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division. Also slated are a 50-lap Limited Sportsman Division race, twin 15-lap races for the Budweiser Pure Stock Division and a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets Division.
Registration and pit gates will open at 2 p.m. Practice will begin at 3:45 p.m. and grandstand gates will open at 5:30 p.m. Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. and the first race of the night will get the green flag at 7 p.m.
Advance adult general admission tickets for Saturday night’s Italian Delight Family Restaurant Night at the Races event are priced at $10 each and may be purchased online on South Boston Speedway’s website, www.southbostonspeedway.com, through Friday night, August 20. Adult general admission tickets online and at the gate on race day are priced at $15 each. Kids ages 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Fans and competitors are urged to visit the South Boston Speedway website and the speedway’s social media channels for the latest news and updates about the speedway and events at “America’s Hometown Track.”