Richard F. Rudiger: A Memory
Volume 47 Issue 10
May 14, 2022
At one time some of the best Ferrari technicians in the world worked at FAF Motorcars. One, Richie Rudiger recently passed. He was a friend and mentor to me for nearly forty years.
What is a hero? Who can be a hero? How would you know if you met a hero?
Richard (Ritchie) Rudiger was one of my heroes. He was a mechanic at FAF Motorcars. Probably one of the most unsung and yet one of the most seen of any Ferrari mechanic known.
Ritchie’s face graced many FAF advertisements as he stood over a 250 GTO with screwdriver in hand.
How he ended up at the Ferrari dealer in Tucker, Georgia, is a story unto itself.
As he became of age shortly after World War II, he went to Technical School where he learned about machine tools and mechanics.
He then joined the Navy and served his time on the USS Antietam, an aircraft carrier that had been completed shortly after the war ended.
As a machinist’s mate he inspected and maintained equipment on the ship. He found a fire pump inoperative and discovered a slight misalignment of a bearing causing the shaft to seize.
His repair caused an uproar due to the unorthodox method of repair, but it was all overlooked due to the safety aspect of a working pump and the fact it had not worked for ten years.
After the Navy he worked for Brumos Porsche and Bill Harrah.
At Daytona 1967, Harrah entered a new 206 SP and Rudiger told Mario Forghieri the Dino engine would not last because the valve spring pressure was too great. Forghieri said “No, it was fine.” The Dino did not survive to the end.
He later moved to Atlanta as shop foreman of a Porsche dealer. That is where FAF found him.
Rudiger was one of the first mechanics FAF hired. There was not a gearbox and differential unit he could not make right. A wizard with carburetors and ignition systems; he was good with everything he touched.
He and others showed me how and why things worked. I felt it when it was binding; I felt it when it was good.
I later hired Rudiger after I started Dr. Hondaa. We worked on Honda and Ferrari; he repaired either one with the same competent approach.
All told, I spent close to twenty years working with and learning from this great mechanic.
A couple months ago I stopped in to see Rudiger at his house in Florida. Although we hadn’t seen each other in fifteen years it was like time hadn’t passed.
Ritchie recently passed on at eighty-nine years old.
The FAF crew grows smaller and smaller. It is difficult to describe what it was like to be involved at that time with a great group of owners, salesman, parts guys and mechanics.
I am glad I was there to live it, both from the parts and from the service side. I can honestly say the best job I ever had was my time at FAF.
It was special to work around Ferrari cars each day. There was a special feeling to be part of that camaraderie.
I learned much from Rudiger and others. Those lessons have kept me out of mechanical disasters and taught me how to fix the ones others have created.
Hero or mentor? Sometimes I think there is not much difference.