Support Class Spotlight: Johnny Ridings

We at recognize the contributions made to the sport of dirt racing by those who race in the support classes each week at our local tracks. Their work, dedication and sacrifice are just as great as those who compete in the Late Model divisions. As a result, we hope to shine a spotlight on one of those unsung heroes each week of this season by having them answer eight questions as well as provide other information.

This week’s driver is Johnny Ridings

Johnny Ridings in victory lane at 411 Motor Speedway.

Johnny Ridings in victory lane at 411 Motor Speedway.

Johnny Ridings has been a regular in the Modified class at the 411 Motor Speedway for several years. However, with that division essentially being absorbed by the Sportsman class, he is considering a move into those cars for the 2014 season. There is even a chance he could run a Limited Late Model, splitting his time among 411, Tazewell, I-75 and Wartburg.

The 43-year-old resident of Walland, Tenn. was the track champion at 411 this past season in the Modified division.

In September of 2012, Ridings was involved in a scary incident in which the car he was driving erupted into flames. “My car had a blown motor and a friend of mine was going to a wedding that night so he asked me to drive his car for him and see what I thought about it. I was running 4th right before the accident, but a fuel line ruptured inside the cockpit. It was a pretty scary deal. I got second and third degree burns on my left hand, my left knee and my left foot.

“I was out for about ten weeks but I wanted to get back in it because I wanted to prove to myself that it didn’t scare me enough that I wouldn’t drive again.”

1. How long have you been in racing?

“I’ve been in it 19 years. I started out at Smoky Mountain in what was called Pro Street. I ran a Modified Mini for about a half season, but didn’t like that so I went back to the Pro Street. I ran that until they changed it to Modified Street and ran that for a few years at Smoky Mountain. Then I left there and went to Murphy Speedway(I-75) when it was a 5/8 mile track and ran there until they closed it down.”

2. Why the Modified class?

“I had been sharing a car with Frederick Romines at the Atomic Speedway. Then I bought the car from him and moved to 411. The class interested me because they were trying to get it built up and at the time it was a reasonably priced class to run for an ‘Average Day Joe’ like me.”

3. The best thing about being a race car driver is____.

“I would say that it would have to be the fans and seeing the fans cheer you on and have them come up and talk to you. I’m just an ‘Average Day Joe’. I don’t feel like I’m special. I don’t care to take my time out to talk to the people that were in my shoes 20 years ago, watching racing and wanting to be in it.”

4. Your best moment in racing came when ____.

“That’s a tough question, but I would say the best moment was probably this past season. I got nine wins and 18 or 19 top-5s and a championship.”

5. My biggest dream in racing would be _____.

“Probably to be able fund and run a Super Late Model on the Lucas series, or something like that.”

6. What other racer do you admire?

“There’s so many of them, but I’d have to say Gusty Christenberry. I was helping him when the Mountain was going strong and he has always been encouraging to me.”

7. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re away from the track?

“Good question. When I wasn’t at the track this year, I was working on the race car. But other than that, I’d say spending time with the family.”

8. If I wasn’t racing I would be ____.

“Hunting and fishing.”


Johnny Ridings escapes a fire that left him with second and third degree burns.

Johnny Ridings escapes a fire that left him with second and third degree burns.

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