View Full Version : Behind The Wheel Tribute to Todd Rumpke

09-12-2016, 02:13 PM

Todd Rumpke - A Behind the Wheel Tribute powered by Optima Batteries
Written by: Brandy Phillips
Photos by: Brandy Phillips & a collection of friends and family from social media

When you look back on life, how do you want to be remembered? Do you want your name to go down in history with
millions of people paying tribute to your success? Do you want to be remembered as a kind and humble person? Maybe
your focus is family and for your loved ones to keep your memory alive. Then there are most who don’t even think of this
question until it is too late.

When life is taken away unexpectedly, there is obviously little time to prepare for this question. When life gives you time to
prepare, this question is probably one that will haunt you until the very end.

Sometimes a person does not realize what type of influence they have had on this world until it is too late. Fortunately for
Todd Rumpke, this was not the case.

Let’s flash back to 2010. I was honored to have been a part of the growing number of pro-touring vehicles racing across
the country during this time. Race series such as the American Streetcar Series, Goodguys, Midwest Muscle Car Challenge
and LS Fest were some of the few events that were in high demand during this time.

Then there was Bill Howell. Bill made his own rules. Bill’s rules rocked. Though the events were sometimes not always
100% perfect and though Bill, Brian Finch and Yancy Jonhs all bickered during times of disagreement, I have never had
as much fun as I did when I was surrounded by these guys at their events.


Run Through the Hills was one of the events I looked forward to each year. From the Tail of the Dragon to the most
random stretch of shops in the country, the autocross and even the brake stop challenge; everyone had a blast. The
autocross, held in the baseball parking lot, was the highlight though, especially when Danny Popp and Todd Rumpke
came into our world.


In 2010 this almost stock 1972 blue Corvette came out to participate in Run Through the Hills. The car was exceptionally
quick and the driver obviously had some experience. 2010 was when Danny Popp took the pro-touring world by storm,
though no one had any idea just what Danny Popp would do.


Now I love Danny dearly, but this obviously is not about him (though he will be mentioned several times throughout this
tribute). Beside the stock blue Corvette was a yellow 2006 Corvette Z06 with a RAFT sticker on the rear. Some may not
recognize the car and others might comment that it looks quite naked from its current appearance, but this was Snoopy
back in 2010.


In 2011, Popp and Rumpke attended the Run Through the Hills event without the ’72 Corvette. This time Popp was a
designated instructor, though both him and Rumpke would also participate in the event.


Rumpke would then continue to appear at places like the 2011 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. Snoopy would
also make an appearance in its new color scheme, looking better than ever.


Flash forward to present day. The Rumpke name goes beyond the racetrack. Todd Rumpke worked for Rumpke Waste &
Recycling, a family business that included both his father and grandfather. Rumpke, who had a business and personal
management degree from Miami University, held several jobs at Rumpke Waste & Recycling including his current role as
Regional Vice President.


When Rumpke was not working or at the track he spent time with his wife and three sons. Unfortunately, I did not have
a chance to meet Rumpke’s family, though he and Popp would often post social media updates that included Rumpke’s
family, especially his youngest son Brock.


Besides motorsports, Rumpke participated in baseball and hockey. Rumpke’s role as hockey coach had a huge impact on
several kids beyond his own. Members of the team took to social media sharing photos including this one at the 2016
Championship, where Rumpke stood proudly beside the team.

Looking back on Todd Rumpke’s life, I start to wonder if Rumpke at least put a dent in his bucket list? For those reading,
I am sure you too have a bucket list. Mine extends far beyond what I will ever do, but one can have hopes and dreams.
For Todd, he was not a man that sat around waiting for life to happen. He was a man that made life catch him both on
and off the course.


Todd’s automotive passion started well before many of us knew the name Todd Rumpke. I was able to find a throw back
picture (date unknown, though Todd looks awful young) of Todd in the original FasTrash ride. Unlike the wide tire,
aerodynamic setup Todd ran on his Corvette, the skinny tire 350 small block Camaro was a thing of his past.


Flash back to another throw back post from James Shipka of the 2010 One Lap of America. Rumpke’s 2006 Corvette was
present at this event alongside Rumpke and Popp. The car, which still has certain characteristics of the new look, got the
snot beaten out of it, but then again what do you expect when you look at the two drivers behind the wheel.

A little over a year ago, it was announced that Todd would be going in for cancer treatment. Many of us were shocked at
the news. Todd had looked fine. He even competed alongside many of us at several of the Optima Series events. Why
Todd? What would happen? Little did we know that this would be the start of a common bond between many strangers in
the racing community.


Almost exactly one year ago today, Todd’s son Zakk announced that Todd was free of cancer. The treatment seemed to
have worked and Rumpke was on his way to getting stronger. Two months later Rumpke would make an appearance at
Optima’s Auto Club Speedway event in Fontana, California and win his way back into the Optima Ultimate Street Car
Invitational by dominating the GTL class. Though Rumpke was still not 100%, he gave it his all and pulled off the win.


Rumpke and Snoopy (Todd’s 2006 Corvette) would go on to attend the 2015 SEMA show and OUSCI. Rumpke ran a hard
fight against Popp, Brandon Ranveck and Andy Smedegard, but it was not enough to take podium during the event.
Honestly, I am not sure that mattered though as Todd was enjoying life, knowing that it could be taken away at any
moments notice.

Rumpke’s strength grew back along with his hair and he looked better than he had in quite some time. Todd took full
advantage of his second chance at life, spending time with his family, coaching and getting behind the wheel of Snoopy
once again. Unfortunately, Rumpke would have another run-in with his cancer all too soon, this one posing more difficult
to rid than the last time.


During Rumpke’s cancer recurrence, he continued to live his life, though at a much slower pace. He attended the Optima
NCM Motorsports Park event this past June with Snoopy. By this time most of Rumpke’s fellow racers were aware of his
battle with cancer. In honor of Rumpke, the group at Ultimate Performance had shirts made with the number 63 alongside
Rumpke’s ’06 Corvette and an image of the character Snoopy.

The shirt was presented to Todd at this race, where it also became available to purchase. Racers, friends and family across
the country started ordering them. The shirts, which started popping up at different race events across the country, were
a great display on how many people supported Rumpke and his road to recovery.


Unfortunately, this would be Rumpke’s last race. July was a rough month for Rumpke as kidney problems set forth a new
obstacle. A stem cell transplant from Todd’s youngest son Brock was scheduled for late July. This was postponed until
Rumpke’s kidneys improved.

Danny Popp updated the racing community on Rumpke’s progress, though it was not what anyone wanted to hear. Todd
was not doing well and the need for prayers were requested again and again. Hundreds of people came together with
warm wishes and prayers for Todd’s safe recovery.


Saying goodbye is tough, but I couldn’t imagine what it is like to say your goodbyes for a final time. In Todd’s finals
days, family and friends came to say their last words, share memories with Todd and look back on his life. Todd had
fought a hard battle and it was finally time for him to move on to a place of peace and rest.

The unfortunate news of Todd’s passing came early Wednesday September 7th on Danny Popp’s Facebook page:

9.7.2016 –
The day the world lost the most INCREDIBLE friend.
The most INCREDIBLE father. The most INCREDIBLE husband.
The most INCREDIBLE son and brother.
The most INCREDIBLE competitor.
The most INCREDIBLE person.

The world will forever now be a different place without him. Todd has touched so many in his 53 years. The
family and I would like to thank each and every one of you who wished well, thought of, prayed and rallied for
support of this GREAT man. All of you made a significant difference for Todd, his family, friends and I. #63forever

Sonya told me that he said that he would miss her and the boys. I had thought about that for a bit, and in my
last conversation with Todd I told him of what I had heard. I told him that he had no idea how bad the world
would miss him, and how big the hole in people's hearts would be of those that he touched. Albeit incredibly hard.
I was very glad to be able to say my last good-byes and tell him exactly what he had meant to me, my son and
the community/ world. I left nothing unsaid as I held his hand, cried and shared.

News will be forthcoming shortly of his arrangements. In the meantime, please continue to pray for the family in
this time of loss. They too have been through a lot in the last few days, weeks, months and year. –DANNY POPP

When you think of automotive racing (or at least what they show on television), a lot of the sport is cutthroat,
hostile, trash talking competition. Then again it’s a combination of racing and television; it sells. This also applies
to several other non-televised forms of racing though. When the pro-touring community started to grow, people
leaned on each other for knowledge, help, and expansion of the pro-touring concept as a whole. It was amazing to
watch competitors work together, embrace new members and be overly friendly. This is what makes the pro-touring
race community so different from most other race venues.

When Todd passed, the overwhelming amount of people that started to mourn his death was quite admirable. As I
watched social media, people from literally all over the country, those from different race series, those outside of the
automotive community, and even strangers who had never met Todd, but knew of him, came together to mourn his
loss. I asked myself if I too would make such an impact on so many lives like Todd had done? Would people across
the country mourn my death when it was time? Honestly, I do not think Todd realized the impact he had on those
around him, even on those whom he had never met. I bet Todd would be pretty impressed today looking back on all
this and seeing how many people truly admired and supported him along this rough time in his life.

As I took to social media during this time, memories started to surface on social media of Todd, some worth sharing
with all of you.


Goodbye Todd. I will be forever grateful for our friendship. All our conversations about life, the one of a kind life
experiences we shared together, and certainly for your words at the end. I love you bud, I'm a better man for
having you part of my life. God speed and have fun with your dad, we will all miss you more than words can
express. –Jeremy Herzberg


I don't remember the first time I met Todd specifically, but I absolutely remember just being so surprised at how down
to Earth he was. Extremely successful in life due to lots of hard work, great work ethic, and what turned out to be a
great support system in the Rumpke family around him. I remember immediately thinking this guy could be my neighbor
or long time friend with how easy it was to strike a conversation and BS about anything with. I am forever grateful to
Danny and Jeremy for introducing me to their circle of friends and welcoming me in. Lots of laughs and good times. And
those will carry for a lifetime. Danny, I know how extremely close you two were and I can only imagine how hard this is
for you. Just know I am here to help and support in any way I can. – David Moster


One of my favorite Todd Rumpke stories. Indy Goodguys 3 maybe 4 years ago. Todd rolls into the pits in the auto-x in
his just purchased Rat Rod, blown small block, whitewall slicks, straight axle, and chain steering wheel. Swap meet
purchased lap belt was installed in the pits. Todd makes one lap and realizes the chain steering wheel is detrimental to
the skin on his hands, so back to the swap meet for the finest Mechanix Wear driving gloves available. It was on from
there! The sight of the 2 front tires in a death wobble when trying to brake for the corners was a sight to see. The giant
grin on Todd's face after every lap and the entertainment value for those of us in the pits was priceless! –Tim McGilton

Comment: We have talked about that occurrence many times in the last few days...... what you didn't see was on that
Sunday we went over to Putnam for 5th gen Camaro JRi testing on Bruce Raymond's Camaro. I was out swinging
Bruce's car around the track, was in T8 when I looked over to see that dumb rat-rod going down the front straight on
the road course at 100+mph. Crazy *******. As I said, he understood NO boundaries. –Danny Popp


With over 300 reactions, 200 shares and 200 comments, racers, friends and family came together recalling good times
with Todd Rumpke. One of my favorites was from Ultimate Performance who posted a picture of Todd at Optima NCM
Motorsports Park. After all Todd had been through over the past couple months, he still stood tall and proud with his Spirit
of the Event award and Todd Rumpke shirt. Todd had received the Spectre Performance Spirit of the Event that weekend,
allowing him to return to the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational this November immediately following SEMA. Todd
had been looking forward to this event with the goal to be well enough to participate in the invitational. Danny
announced that though Todd will not be at there to race Snoopy, the 2006 Corvette Z06 will be present at the 2016 SEMA
show and at OUSCI.

There were only two things the Rumpke family and Danny Popp could do after Todd’s death: sit and continue to mourn
his passing or celebrate his life by prepping his car for the upcoming Holley LS Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I will give
you one guess at which they chose. Danny, his son Nathan and two of Todd’s boys Zakk and Brock cleaned the car for
what would be one of the most honorable tributes ever made in our pro-touring community.


Event coordinator Jimi Day also acted quickly as a spot at the event was already reserved for the car along with a banner
in Todd’s memory. Our pro-touring community had experienced a death in the past that was somewhat similar to this,
when Todd Gartshore of Baer Brakes passed away in 2011. The time was bitter sweet in that so many people lost someone
who played a significant role in our community, but it was also a time of remembrance and celebration. Five years later,
the passing of another great influencer has now happened, bringing our pro-touring community together once again.


Danny Popp attended Holley LS Fest on a mission and that is exactly what he accomplished. Taking the lead with Snoopy
early Friday morning resulted in a win on the autocross with the fastest lap time of the day. Danny came home as the
Chevy High Noon Shootout (autocross) winner, the overall champion on the Speed Stop and I believe second place overall
behind the wheel of Rumpke’s ’06 Corvette.

Nathan Popp, who was behind the wheel of his father’s infamous C5 Vette, also struggled throughout the weekend, as
memories of Rumpke were everywhere. Rumpke, who was a second father to Nathan, played a heavy influence in
Nathan’s life. Nathan placed 13th overall out of 160 competitors, but it wasn’t without recognition of his #63 copilot
helping lead the way.

I think I just had one of the most emotional autocross runs I've ever had.... Typically I don't turn the radio on in the
car before I make a run but I turned the radio on and 'whiskey in the jar' by Metallica started playing. Todd and I used
to jam out to this song in his truck on the way to events, as this was both one of our favorite Metallica songs.... Sooooo
as Todd would I cranked up the volume and left black marks the whole way through the course and finished with my
fastest time of the day! #63forever #LSFest2016 #RacingAlwaysForTodd #RAFT – Nathan Popp


I think the overall best summary of LS Fest came from Abbie Kenworthy:

If I saw anything at all today and yesterday, the support for Todd Rumpke was truly amazing. I definitely don't think I've
seen somebody as loved as he was. All of the shirts, decals, I could only imagine if everyone that wanted to go to his
procession could make it... wow it would he LS Fest all over again. I did not know him personally, but I've seen him wheel
snoopy, I know how much he meant to everybody in the community (and this is a great community, I’m glad to know so
many people in it, I've met some awesome friends) so I sure showed my support and wore my Rumpke shirt! I found it
truly heart warming how much 63 was out there; heaven sure gained an awesome man! It was such a pleasure to ride in
Snoopy, thank you so much Danny Popp. it sure meant a lot! I will continue to pray for his friends and family. It sure was
AMAZING to go to LS Fest this year and see it in his honor. Danny, you are one hell of a friend to do this for him. By
snoopy being there and kicking ass, part of Todd was there and it was just awesome, such a tribute!! <3 #rip63

So where does this leave us in remembrance of Todd Rumpke? For many of us, hours, days, months, and years will pass
as we continue on with our daily lives as if nothing had happened. For others, Todd’s memory will linger daily possibly
resulting in a sea of emotions from tears and heartbreak to smiles and laughter. There are still tough times ahead as
everyone begins to prepare for Rumpke’s memorial today Monday September 12th and Tuesday September 13th, 2016.
As SEMA approaches this too will bring people together once again with laughter and tears as the thought of Rumpke’s
attendance at the 2016 OUSCI was supposed to be a victory free from cancer instead of a memorial.

So when the day comes and you ask what your life has amounted to, don’t be too hard on yourself. For Todd, he was a
genuine man full of sincerity and kindness. He made you feel as if you had always known him, even if it was your first
time meeting the guy. He was a loving father, husband, coach, friend and amazing racer. For those who knew him, his
memory will live long within each of us. For those who did not have a chance to meet him, hopefully this tribute has
brought you a little closer to him.

Yes, most of us will continue with our lives and carry on, but Todd Rumpke’s life will always be remembered at race events,
in the #63, in the decals scattered across the country as many stood behind Todd during these tough times, and in the
memories we continue to share about him.


Todd Rumpke’s celebration of life will continue to be honored as Snoopy heads to SEMA this November. Our condolences
go out to all of Todd Rumpke’s family and friends as they go through this rough time. For those attending SEMA, please
make sure to stop by and pay your respects to Snoopy and the #63. We will update everyone on where the car will be
placed once that information is released.



Bill Howell
09-12-2016, 02:27 PM
Great read Brandy. I remember that RTTHs when both Danny and Todd showed up and as you say, took the PT world by storm. I had met Danny the year before at MMC when he was an instructor at Putnum Park and was happy he had taken an interest in our small segment of the hobby. The rest is history. Todd will be missed.

James OLC
09-12-2016, 02:49 PM
I first met Todd running One Lap back in 2010 - he was a rare person in so much as he ALWAYS had a kind word and a smile on his face (seriously - it is impossible to find a picture of him without a huge grin). He touched an amazing number of lives - including my own - and will be missed. Godspeed my friend.

09-12-2016, 04:23 PM
Dear sweet Brandy -
I can hear your voice and feel your emotion through every line you've written. I am so very sorry for the loss of your friend, of our friend. Todd would probably smile and even blush a little if he read this and probably scoff at the idea that he was so very special and important in our community. And at the end of the day this is a tough one. So young and full of life. Seems unfair and meaningless to have someone so good leave so soon.

Let's make a pact to remind those we love of how they've impacted our lives while they're here. That may be one of the lessons I have learned by Todd's passing.

I'm proud of you girl. xoxo

09-26-2016, 08:19 AM
Was watching OUSCI on TV last night, Race #4 I believe at the Corvette Museum in Kentucky and saw the dedication at the end of the show. My jaw dropped. I know Todd probably didn't know me from sand, but he always smiled and said hello at many of the races when I volunteered. Just wanted to share a great pic I have of him at Thunderhill, Race #1, March 2015. Enjoy. Super, amazing guy.132249