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The Eagle 51 car, owned by Eagle Racing 51 and driven by Mike Ruble, is seen here zooming around a dirt race track. The car can be seen Sunday as it motors around the Tree City Raceway at the Decatur County Fairgrounds during the Indiana Crate Series race.

The Indiana Crate Series late-model racing program has its first of four race dates Sunday at the Tree City Raceway Park at the Decatur County Fairgrounds. Gates will open at 1 p.m. and hot laps will be run starting at 4 p.m.

There have been six features completed already with Eric Varner claiming the points lead with 256 points. Included in the top 10 is Greensburg native Mike Ruble who ranks ninth with 133 points despite the fact that he did not compete in three of the first four events.

April 26 at Twin Cities Speedway in North Vernon “was the first night the car left the garage. That gave us an opportunity to see how it handles and get everything ready for the new season,” Ruble said.

The shake out trial didn’t result in a top-10 finish, but since Ruble claimed a sixth and a fourth place finish at North Vernon and at the Union County Track in Liberty, respectively.

From no points on April 19, Ruble has jumped to ninth in the standings, a remarkably fast rise.

More remarkable is the fact that he is even in a race car today.

On May 17, 2004 while working at his day job at Delta Faucet, he was the victim of an industrial accident when he fell into an acid pit. Before he was removed from the acid, he was seriously burned on both legs.

Consequently he spent the better part of the next year undergoing numerous skin graft surgeries and painful rehabilitation.

“The doctors at Wishard are phenomenal in what they did for him,” according to his son, Shawn Morgan.

But they were amazed by Ruble as well.

“They couldn’t believe that he was up on his feet two days after the accident,” Morgan said.

Still there was nearly a year more of surgery and burn care before he was released. Among the procedures that were used were grafting pigskin to the feet and painful debradings. There was even fear that the right foot woud have to be amputated.

Following the accident, there were concerns that he would not walk because of the damage done to skin and other tissue. Today, the only physical limitations Ruble has are tightness in his legs, foot pain and a loss of sensitivity to heat.

“We were working on a motor, once, and we had to tell him his leg was against the engine. He couldn’t feel the heat from the header on his leg,” Morgan said.

Prior to the accident he had driven late model cars for 20 years and a Google search of his name finds references from six-to-eight years old in both Indiana and Kentucky. Paucity of time prevented a longer search, but his history is found in old press clippings found on the web.

After a hiatus enforced by his injuries, Ruble decided to get back into the sport last year and ended up seventh in points in the series run at North Vernon. He placed 35th in the StormPay.com National Points West Series out of 289 drivers.

While he is racing, he needs no walking assistance and no accessories to accommodate his injuries.

“He just gets in the car and goes,” said Morgan.

This year he is driving the Crate engine series of late model racers. His bright black and red No. 51 car is based on a CJ Rayburn chassis and is owned by Eagle Racing 51.

“He keeps saying someday he is going to retire, but he keeps putting it off,” Morgan reported.

Other race dates coming up in Greensburg for this series are on June 8, June 29 and July 10.

Additional information regarding the Crate series and Eagle Racing 51 can be found on their respective websites www.indianacrateseries.com

and www.eagleracing51.com.

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