MASON CITY — For more than 19 years, the 555 machine of Ryan Ruter has been wheeling around the race track in Mason City.
The driver from Clear Lake, who started in a B-Modified in 1999, has raced to more than his fair share of victories, and has one track championship to his credit back in 2008. He also has a USMTS win to his credit on his track he calls home.
“We just do our thing here and come every week,” Ruter said. “It’s only four miles from the shop so we come over here and have fun and can be home and in bed most of the time by about 10 p.m.”
Over the years, though, his stops at the track have varied.
There have been years when he’s just raced a handful of times, or years when the ‘Triple Nickel’ is in town for most every show racing for a points title.
With the track changes, Ruter, along with many others, are still getting used to the new surface. Over the past few years, it’s also been an adjustment dealing with low car counts in the Modifieds class.
“They did a lot of improvements and they’re getting things shaped up the way it needs to be,” Ruter said. “Like anything, it’s not going to happen overnight; you’ve always got to keep working on it.
“They’re still working to get the car count back to where it needs to be but that’s not going to happen overnight either. We’ll keep racing here and they’ll keep making improvements on the track.”
Even with all the laps he’s ran in Mason City over the years and the wins he’s piled up, don’t call him a master of the Mason City Motor Speedway just yet. And it’s nights like Sunday, June 25 — the last time the track held a show — that serve as a reminder that anyone can humble you on any given night.
Ruter, who has also frequented the Hancock County Speedway over his career, started on the pole and led for most of the race before last year’s track champion Jason Cummins ran him down in the second-to-last lap to snatch the victory out from under Ruter. It would’ve been Ruter’s first win in Mason City since July 20, 2016.
He has two runner-up finishes and one third-place showing in four races in Mason City this year.
If there’s one thing Ruter’s learned in his racing career, though, it’s perspective.
“It’s competition. Competition makes you get better,” Ruter said. “We could’ve won tonight and been like ‘Car is fine. Leave it alone.’ But no doubt we got beat.
“We were off just a little bit there. I don’t know if the tires sealed over there a little bit at the end, but the 71 (Cummins) was good on the top and bottom and he rolled by me. That’s happened more than one time in my career. It could be reversed next week.”