By Anthony Rhoads
Even though he's just 12-years-old, Ryan Rudy is a race car driver who is focused not only on winning races but helping charitable causes.
Rudy is involved with Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp and last year, he helped raise $3,000 for the camp, which is for children with chronic and terminal illnesses.
"We're really glad to be a part of it," Rudy said.
Rudy also promotes the Children's Miracle Network and the Cure Autism Now charity.
"All the Bandolero cars nationally are required to have the Children's Miracle Network sticker," Rudy said. "I'm glad of that because it's really a good cause."
For Rudy, promoting children's medical charities is a cause that hits close to home. His 8-year-old sister Ashley has an undiagnosed illness that will likely shorten her life span.
Last year, Rudy was recognized by Atlanta Motor Speedway for his conduct on and off the track as he won the 2003 Thursday Thunder Sportsmanship Award.
Rudy competed in the Bandolero Bandits Division in 2002 and 2003. He posted five top-fives last season and placed sixth in the final season standings.
He also won the 2003 Georgia State Bandolero Championship.
This year, he's moving up to the Young Guns Division and is looking forward to it. Back in March after the Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he made his debut in the Young Guns Division and won the race.
"I feel like we're going to do good this season," he said. "I feel pretty good because we've already won once here."
Rudy also plans to race in the Summer Shootout in Charlotte and at smaller venues like Senoia and Cordele.
Like other young drivers, he aspires to race in NASCAR someday.
"That was my goal ever since I've known what racing is," he said. "I hope to run in the ASA and in the late models and work my way up through the ranks."
Rudy is a rising seventh-grader at Lovejoy Middle School and has been in the gifted program since first grade.
His academic honors are as numerous as his racing awards as he is an honor roll student, has been named a Star Student, has been awarded the President's Education Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and won a first-place award in District for the 4-H Club.