Roger Rager (September 3, 1948 – February 16, 2022) was an American racing driver in the USAC and CART Championship Car series.

Early lifeEdit

Rager was born on September 3, 1948 in Lincoln, Nebraska. When he was four years old he ran a "space ship" go-kart around a track during an intermission for a race program that included his dad, Bob, at the Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln. At age 14, Rager purchased a stock car for $35 and raced at a local track. He later moved to Lincoln and raced on weekends. His first sprint win was at Jefferson County Speedway in Nebraska.

CareerEdit

Rager enjoyed numerous milestones as a sprint car racer in the early 1970s. He won many races all over the country and also was the United States captain for a sprint car team competing in South Africa in 1973. He returned to North America and moved to the Twin Cities in the mid-1970s. It was about that time that Rager also set a world record for the fastest lap on a one-mile dirt track, piloting a spring car without a wing. He also won the points championship at the famed Knoxville track. He would become the only driver to win at Knoxville in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

 
Roger Rager with one of his winning cars

Rager had many accomplishments as a sprint car racer, but he changed his race focus to the Indy Car series in the late 1970s. Rager started running some USAC events in 1976 and made his first Indy 500 qualifying attempt in 1977. His qualifying run ended in a crash at 190 mph. Despite running on a small budget against some million dollar race teams, Rager just missed qualifying at the Brickyard by one spot in 1979. He did make the Indy 500 field in 1980 with the 10th fastest qualifying time.

"I had A. J. Foyt on the outside of my (fourth) row, so I thought I would follow him and he actually was slowing me down," Rager said of the legendary racer. Rager not only was leading Foyt, but the entire Indy 500 field for two laps. Rager finished his Indy Car career with six top 10 finishes in 23 starts in USAC or CART events. He was also a USAC Rookie of the Year in 1980.

Rager's focus returned to sprint car racing in the mid-1980s when he was asked to drive for a guy at the speedway in Jackson, Minn. He also left the Twin Cities and purchased a resort on Loon Lake, just west of Pequot Lakes, in 1988. Rager's time in a sprint car started to dwindle as he focused much of his time on building up the resort. He eventually took time off from racing.

Shortly before turning 50, he received an offer to drive a sprint car at Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin. "I finally said I would drive one time, but I finished second in the heat and feature," he recalled. "I figured if it's still this easy, maybe I should start driving again." Rager continued racing for the next ten years and continued to enjoy success by winning an additional 30 features, including four at Knoxville Raceway. One of those races was a national qualifier in the 360 class. He also was a Masters Champion three times in six years at Knoxville. In 1990 Roger was inducted into Knoxville Hall of Fame.

Retirement and deathEdit

Roger retired after being inaugurated into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame May 29, 2009. Living in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, he owned Rager's Acres Seasonal RV Park on Loon Lake.

On June 22, 2011, Roger was inducted into the Big Car Racing Association (BCRA) Hall of Fame. He died on February 16, 2022, at the age of 73.[1]

Awards and honorsEdit

United States Auto Club (USAC) Rookie of the Year, "Action Track" Driver of the Year, Captain of the United States Sprint Car Team in South Africa, Track Championship at Knoxville, IA and Minneapolis (North Star Speedway), Washington State Championship, NSS - National Champion 2000 and 2001, Knoxville, IA Masters Champion 2 out of 3 years, Knoxville Hall of Fame, Member of the elite "Leaders Circle Club", National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and BCRA Hall of Fame.

Racing recordEdit

Complete USAC Mini-Indy Series resultsEdit

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pos Points
1979 TEX1 IRP MIL1 POC TEX2 MIL2 MIN1
10
MIN2
7
22nd 90
1980 MIL POC MDO MIN1
13
MIN2
10
ONT 29th 35

USAC Championship Car resultsEdit

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Rank Points
1976 Dick Simon PHX TRE INDY MIL POC MCH TWS TRE
20
MIL
10
ONT
17
MCH
16
TWS PHX 33rd 60
1978 Agajanian-King PHX ONT TWS TRE INDY
DNQ
MOS MIL
DNQ
POC
DNQ
MCH
DNQ
41st 15
Wayne Woodward ATL
12
TWS MIL ONT MCH TRE SIL BRH PHX
1979 Roger Rager ONT TWS INDY
DNQ
MIL
10
POC
Wth
TWS
15
MIL
16
26th 65
1980 Roger Rager ONT INDY
23
MIL POC
26
MDO
8
27th 100
1981–82 Seymour Enterprises INDY
DNQ
POC
8
20th 350
J.F. McCray ILL
8
DUQ ISF
DNQ
Indiana Coal INDY
DNQ
1982–83 Johnny Vance SPR
26
39th 4
W&W Molded Plastics DUQ
DNQ
NAZ
Frito-Lay Racer INDY
DNQ

CART resultsEdit

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Rank Points
1980 Roger Rager ONT INDY
23
MIL POC
26
MDO
8
MCH
24
WGL MIL
8
ONT
11
MCH MEX
11
PHX
10
18th 381
1981 Seymour Enterprises PHX MIL ATL ATL MCH
13
30th 10
J.F. McCray RIV
13
MIL
18
MCH
21
WGL
DNQ
MEX PHX
DNQ

Indianapolis 500Edit

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1980 Wildcat Chevrolet 10 23 Roger Rager

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sprint Car Great & Indy 500 Starter Roger Rager, 73". Speed Sport. 20 February 2022. Retrieved 20 February 2022.

SourcesEdit

  • [1] 1980 Indy 500 stats
  • Roger Rager at ChampCarStats.com
  • [2] Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame
  • [3] National Sprint Car Hall of Fame
  • Bill Carlson, MN 22:52, 7 October 2010 (UTC) added/edited content
  • [4] Rager's Acres Seasonal RV Park