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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Scripted Life

9.14.2012 (Via Marshall Pruett, SPEED) – You can call Hunter-Reay many things. RHR for short, or “Hollywood” for his all-American looks, but as a writer, I prefer “The Script.”

Everything about the Texas-Born, California-bred racecar driver reads like it was borrowed from the plot of a Disney movie, and that isn’t meant to trivialize or diminish the 30-year-old’s journey in the sport.

As I’ve chronicled more than once, Hunter-Reay’s professional life has been more like a cautionary tale—a three-act story–than a road map to success. The first act, covering his time in a few different open-wheel feeder series, was filled with promise and potential, but the second act—the longest part of the story—set the stage for where RHR finds himself today.

Act 2, which covers Hunter-Reay’s hardest times, is loaded with everything needed for a big payoff in Act 3. 

First, he drove for six different teams from 2003 to 2009–a giant red flag.

Two of the Indy car teams he drove for went out of business at the end of the season. Another red flag. 

Between 2003 and 2005, he won just two out of 43 races in Champ Car. Not quite a red flag, but a yellow, for sure.

He was unemployed—at least as an Indy car driver—for all of 2006 and half of 2007. Red flag once again.

And from the second half of 2007 through 2009, he scored a single win from 41 attempts. That makes red flag No. 4.

Act 2 reveals that he couldn’t hold down a job, didn’t win often enough and also managed to fall out of the sport for 18 months. 

So why, then, did Michael Andretti sign him to a partial season for 2010? Well, that’s where Act 3 begins and “The Script” shifts into high gear.

On the surface, Hunter-Reay’s story reads like he was an Indy car drifter, which is hard to argue, but in reality, he was doing whatever it took to keep his career alive. 

Strip away the veneer–the big smile and positive energy–and you’ll find that Hunter-Reay’s an irrepressible fighter. At his core, RHR’s a classic ‘you’ll have to kill me before I’ll quit’ sporting figure, and even that jumbled mess of a resume, when viewed with a bit of hindsight, helped to shape the person he’s become today. 

Click here to read more. 

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