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Checking Out SEMA for the First Time
The first time I went to SEMA I was pretty overwhelmed. I know I’ve said this many times before (if you’ve ever had a chance to read about my previous SEMA experiences then you know what I’m talking about), but, that first time was a shock to the system. I didn’t know what to expect, but I jumped in head first. It was a pretty crazy experience to go to Sema. The show takes place during the week and I have a regular job (as a telecomm engineer) outside of the magazine. So, taking days off aren’t the easist thing to do. But, considering that I had tried for a few years to get in I was really eager to go to the show. Well, three years ago I finally got the chance. After five years of trying I finally got approved as media for Sema. It was so hard to get in and after all these years I was finally able to go. But, how was I going to go in the middle of the week? I did what any determined red-blooded American would have done… i called in sick…. While in Vegas. Lol
I really wanted to go to SEMA and I didn’t know any other way to go while still earning a living. So, I called my job and feigned a cough or two and called in sick. Hey, it was SEMA, the most amazing car show in the history of car shows. How would I not go? Damn straight. I don’t regret it nor do I regret my time there. I got to meet so many amazing people and see some of the most incredible rides. Sema is an experience unlike anything I had ever been a part of. While there are many moments that I remember, there is one that resonates with me.
While walking around one the South Hall (where all of the wheel and tire manufacturers are located) I came across MKW Wheels. I normally would have kept walking, but, there were two models at the booth that I couldn’t help but gravitate towards. One of those women was a friend of mine (Francesca) that I have known for several years and Candace (whom I had met long ago as well). While I know Franchesca is amazing, I couldn’t help but notice that both Francesca and friend Candace garnered a hell of a lot more attention than a person that was the featured guest at the booth. In the land of cars, trucks and automobile parts , it was the the presence of the models that garnered more attention than anyone else that day. But, I ended up asking the gentleman (and the models) for a picture and shared a few words with him as well. I didn’t think much of the meeting after that interaction. Later on though, I was on Instagram when I noticed that the guy whom I had met at the MKW booth was going to be starring in the Bachelor. Wait, what!? I had to do a double take as I couldn’t believe it. It turns out that the guy I met that day was Stadium Super Truck driver Arie Luyendyk. Yeah, I didn’t know it, but, at the time, Arie was a race car driver. Crazy, I know.
After hearing of Arie’s adventure on the Bachelor and of his many racing exploits, it made me think of the secret lives of race car drivers. Sure, it sounds crazy, but, ever since the days of the Niki Lauda and James Hunt formula one rivalry (and even before) race car drivers have always been larger than life. We’ve been really fortunate to take a peek into the lives of some drivers in popular media, but, more often than not, we don’t get an extended look. I don’t know why either. There are so many stories that are yearning to be told. One of those stories though, is from one of our latest interviews. We were fortunate enough to chat with a driver that is not only talented on the track, but, is making a name for herself across several platforms. Getting an opportunity to chat with driver Angela Ruch has been a very pleasant one that we would have never thought would have happened. She is a driver that has embraced challenges unlike any other, yet has remained willing to take them on and more without even batting an eye. She is unique in this aspect, and after taking a moment to see what makes her tick, one shouldn’t be surprised. So, who is Angela Ruch? She’s a woman of many talents and abilities that few possess and she is in our spotlight today.
As a fan of arcade games, I loved anything and everything that I came across. One of my favorite genres of games are racing games. Back in the early 90’s there was a game that I really enjoyed playing. The game was Daytona USA. You play as a driver in Nascar, and while it’s a bit over the top, the thrill of that racing series was there on full display. When it comes to Nascar I’ll admit that I didn’t know too much about the sport. I follow other racing series (such as Formula One and Indy) now, but, back then, it wasn’t something I knew too much about. I had heard of the many drivers through the years and the many races that they did, but, it was that game that got me interested. Years later, while watching the Speed Channel, I would get a chance to watch Nascar and see some of the races that they were going on. It reminded me a lot of those years that I spent playing Daytona USA in the arcade, but, one thing was different. I had always wondered about it, but, never thought about it. But, where were all of the female drivers? I remember going to the Champ Car Long Beach Grand Prix in the early 2000’s and seeing driver Katherine Legge tear up the track. I hadn’t thought about it much until that moment, but, seeing her carve the track up like everyone else made me really excited. I wondered if there were other female drivers in the series. Mind you, at this time Danica Patrick was also making a name for herself in the Indy world, but, I had never seen her race, so, seeing Katherine was a real treat. I wondered though, if there were any other women that raced in Nascar. I had never heard of amazingly talented drivers such as Louise Smith, Janet Guthrie or Shawna Robinson until much, much later (all of them pioneers and legends in their sport), so, whoever was racing here and now wasn’t known to me. But, luckily for me, I would hear of a driver that comes from a racing pedigree, and is multi-talented. This driver has been making waves ever since she began her career, and is poised to continue that tradition in the years ahead.
I had never heard of Angela Ruch until a few months ago, and I must admit, I feel embarrassed having said so. Being a fan of racing, I thought I knew who was who. But, every once in a while there comes a driver that sets themselves apart. Angela first got her motorsport career going in go-karting. For those uninitiated, go-karting is without a doubt the proving grounds for anyone getting into racing. The racing is fast, furious and extremely fast paced. If you have ever seen one of these races, then you know that it is beyond intense, and that is why it has been the proving grounds to so many drivers. Angela though, managed not only to compete in go-karting, but, to win several series along that road. Racing alongside her twin sister Amber (against whom she would compete against as well), Angela would take this experience and use it in the next level. The next level being professional racing. It must have been an exciting time as a young driver to jump up from go-karting to testing with the ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) series. This is exactly what happened though, and what started out as a a test would blossom into a racing career.
The thing that made this deal even sweeter is that not only did Angela have her shot at racing on a larger stage, but, she would share it with her sister. While they are both competitive and spent a good amount of time racing against each other, it must have been a wonderful feeling to know that you would be able to share some room in this new realm with one of your own kin. This would become incredibly important as they would (for a time) share a car that they would race with. The tag team approach was a success though, and both of them were able to race very well and place highly. Not an easy thing to do coming out of the gate. Angela during this time would also make some lasting impressions on her maintenance techs (crew chiefs) and it was those bonds that would help her garner the respect and admiration of her team. This is probably one of the most important lessons to be learned and something that the most successful drivers have done as well. You can be the best driver in the world, but, if you don’t communicate your needs to the team (and work to best make their job easier), then life will be a lot more difficult for you.
The ARCA racing series would only be the tip of the iceberg though, and over the years Angela would not only race in that series, but, she would also compete in Nascar’s famous Xfinity Series and Nascar’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Both very hard series to get in to, and also vastly different for each other. I have to sit back and admire any time a driver decides to tackle different styles of racing. Not only is this a really hard thing to do (considering just how different of a feeling it is to drive the different vehicles), but it takes an extraordinary person to want to mix things up and try their hand at another challenge. There have been many drivers that have tried this before (like when Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen went from driving in that series to World Rally), but, like any big change like this, it is easier said than done. This year Angela made the move back to the Gander Truck Series after having come off of an almost 9 year absence, and already it’s been exciting. Several races in already and it’s been a tooth and nail fight to every finish line. Knowing what I know of Angela, this is just how someone as competitive as her likes it. I know I am rooting for her and can’t wait to see where she ends up at the end of the season.
For all of Angela’s moves and shakes in the racing world one of the most impressive things about her is what happens off of the race track. Angela, for all of her accomplishments and achievements over the years is most proud of one thing. You see, Angela is unique in that not only is she a successful driver, but, she is first and foremost a mother. I have often told people I know that the strongest woman I have ever known is my mother. She is and will always be in my eyes. But, as much as I love her, she was never a race car driver (don’t worry, I still love you mom). But, I must admit though, that this is pretty cool. Knowing that she has a very unique opportunity in an industry where this is not very common, she has insisted on making her mark. Thankfully, she is able to tackle this with her husband and very cute baby boy. We get to see some of the conversations that have led up to her making this move on her upcoming show (more on that later).
For most of us, that would be impressive enough. But, Angela is full of surprises. On top of all of these things that she is managing and participating in (with the help and support of her family of course), she just launched her new reality show. Yes, you heard that right folks. Angela is now the star of her own reality show titled, “The Ruch Life”. This show is a behind the scenes look at her daily life and adventures. Whether it’s being a mom, a NASCAR driver or jet setting around the country, Angela is always up to something. This show allows us to be a part of her extraordinary life and the craziness around it. I’ve had a chance to watch a few clips of it and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It doesn’t debut until the fall however, so, we will have to wait for the full story. But, judging from what I’ve seen, it should be a fun ride.
I had a chance to chat with Angela a while back and get to know her a little better. It was a fascinating conversation, and while I was able impressed, I didn’t know just how much she had done until afterwards. She is accomplished in a number of facets and continues to push her own limits with every passing day. She is as fascinating as she is incredible and one of the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to. I would recommend you check out Angela on tv during one of her races or through her website (which includes links to her upcoming show). I enjoyed chatting with her and I am sure you will be as fascinated as I was with learning about her. She’s a NASCAR driver, reality star, wife and a mother. Is there anything that Angela can’t do? I don’t think so. So far, there hasn’t been anything that we’ve come across, and that’s incredible. We will be watching Angela and can’t wait to see what new and exciting surprises she comes up with next.
Words By Daniel Navarrete
Photos by Team Angela Ruch
For more information on Angela Ruch and her upcoming shows please make sure to check out her website at Angela Ruch , The Ruch Life
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.