Sandys ends first year at the River City track ranked in the top five

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MIKE WEBER - Sandys Ryan White shows off his car after winning the River City circuits Rookie of the Year award. Earning a prestigious top-five ranking in stock car racing represents a successful season for any driver. Considering that Sandy's Ryan White did it in his first year ever of motorsports is truly a remarkable accomplishment.

White concluded the season at River City Speedway in St. Helens, OR with a fifth place street stock division finish in addition to winning the Rookie-of-the-Year Award.

Driving his Ryan White Trucking/Cedarscapes sponsored 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, White recorded top-10 main event finishes in all 12 races on Columbia County Racing Association (CCRA) schedule. White notched seven top-five finishes on the quarter-mile clay oval track, including a season best second place July 6.

"At the beginning of the season, I wasn't too familiar with the car and I had never driven it in a race before," said White, 29, a 2002 Sandy High graduate. "I went out in my first ever race and just got lucky to finish in fourth place, because I was in the right place at the right time. That's kind of the way the season went. It was great to win Rookie-of-the-Year and I actually did a lot better than I thought I was going to do."

Following a successful debut in the May 4 season opener, White continued to drive consistently and conservatively too, as he avoided having any mishaps during the five month long CCRA series. He concluded the season similarly the way he started with a solid third place finish Sept. 14.

"I would've liked to have finished a little better in a couple of races, but overall, I had a pretty successful season and I learned a lot about racing," White said. "I was fortunate that I wasn't involved in any wrecks at all. It's sure a fun summertime activity to participate in. My mom and dad (Mike and Darla White) came to every race to support me and lots of my friends from Sandy and Estacada would also come out to the track quite often too."

White totaled 1,093 points to take fifth out of 20 drivers in the division and trailed fourth place driver Aaron Prettyman of St. Helens, by just 21. Third place was even within his reach as well as White was just 32 points behind Aaron Snook of St. Helens. He would've had a chance to climb further towards the top of the standings in the final race Sept. 28, but it was cancelled because of rain. Co-champions Cody Smith of Scappoose and Todd Newton of Gladstone, tied for the championship with 1,198 points.

"I had a good season competing against a tough group of guys," he said. "There's lots of good competitors out there and I felt lucky to finish in fifth. Next year, I'll try to improve that. Hopefully, I can finish atop the standings and achieve my goal of winning the championship."

Although he didn't win any CCRA regular season events, White says the highlight was winning the Columbia County Fair non-points exhibition event July 17.

White's first ever opportunity to compete in a race was actually a year ago when he drove a car owned by his friend Eric Lindquist of Milwaukie, in the annual season ending non-points "Run What Ya Brung" exhibition fun type of race Sept. 29, 2012. White became involved in racing last year while working as a pit crew member for Lindquist, who competed in the sportsman class.

Cedarscapes owner Randy Wooley of Portland and Lindquist both encouraged White to start competing as a driver. White took their advice and in October last year he bought a race car for $2,200 from fellow driver Brad Ruth of Washougal.

The Chevy, which has a 350 cubic-inch, V-8 engine, had significant body damage and it needed some other repairs as well. During the off-season, White installed a new three-speed manual transmission, he replaced the rear end differential, the steering box and installed the new sheet metal body. He finished working on the car just a week prior to the beginning of the season in May.

"When we started the season, we were mostly just focusing on seeing what the car was capable of doing," said White, whose race team also includes pit crew member Stephen Kaptur of St. Helens. "I gradually started feeling comfortable with the car and I gained some confidence in my ability to drive out on the track. Eric and Randy have been involved in racing a long time and I learned a lot from them about the proper race preparation. They're very knowledgeable about racing and they taught me a lot. I knew that they would steer me in the right direction."

White usually washed the car prior to every race so that it was one of the best looking race cars on the track. He'll replace the body with a shiny new, dent free one prior to the start of the 2014 season and also rebuild the engine, which is typically normal procedures for most race cars.

"I had a lot of compliments at every race about having a great looking car," he said. "It doesn't look too bad right now from a distance, but when you take a closer look, the dents are highly visible. I take pride in keeping the car clean and having it look good and I do the same thing with my logging truck too."

The speedway actually has one race remaining, which is the "Run What Ya Brung" non-points exhibition event on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m., but White won't enter that race. White is single and he operates his own business, Ryan White Trucking, which he started five years ago. He works as a subcontractor hauling logs for Wayne Stone Logging of Sandy.

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