Johannes Rueckert is a German racing driver from Baden, Germany. He was born on June 16, 1986. He currently competes in F2RWRS for Hydook Racing Team although his career arc has seen him in everything from American dirt racing to GP2.
Johannes Rueckert's journey to a drive in F2RWRS was a long and arduous trek through horrific crashes, irregular corporate backing and miraculous events. He was born to a conservative German family in Baden, Germany who named him after the composer Johannes Brahms. Rueckert's initial exposure to racing came at the age of sixteen, far later then many of his contemporaries. One day, at a friend's birthday party, Rueckert got into a go-kart and began driving around the track. Rueckert later stated in an interview that: "There weren't enough kids to fill up the karts so the ride operator got in. He and I raced around the circuit for ten laps. He won. The intensity and the competitiveness of that race put my foot in the door of auto racing." Rueckert petitioned his parents to let him drive in the local karting competitions but his parents refused to fund him. Rueckert then ran a bake sale in his hometown of Baden, raising enough money to buy himself a kart and an entry into Germany's karting series.
Rueckert failed miserably in the Junior class of the German Karting Championship. Rueckert became something of a joke inside karting circles as his spins and crashes earned him the title "Johann [bathplug]ert". Rueckert kept at it, however, and eventually won the last race of the 2004 German Karting Championship season. By a stroke of luck, Michael Schumacher happened to be in attendance (watching a young Kay Lon) and immediately took a liking to Rueckert. Having not seen the previous two seasons, Schumacher recommended Rueckert to the Ferrari Young Drivers Program in 2004.
GP2 Part One
Suddenly, Rueckert found himself in a talent pool with the best young Italian drivers (including future competitor Marco Bizzarri. Needless to say, Rueckert was no match for them but he did use his connections to ensure a sponsor, the airline Alitalia. Rueckert's connections also got him a seat in GP2 for 2005. Debuting for Dave Price Racing, Rueckert was ten seconds behind the polesitter but was allowed to start. The feature race saw Rueckert retire from last place with a gear box problem but the sprint race saw a disaster befall the German. Malaysian driver Fairuz Fauzy stalled at the start and Rueckert was unable to avoid him. Rueckert was rushed to the hospital but escaped with only a fractured ankle, despite the fact that he was going at almost 150 miles per hour when he hit Fauzy.
Rueckert sat out of all the 2005 GP2 season and expressed no intention of returning in 2006. It seemed like Rueckert's racing career was over but his sponsor Alitalia demanded the Rueckert compete in something. That was how Rueckert ended up in America driving rural dirt track oval races. Rueckert's nickname was "Der Kaiser" and he became a legend in American amateur dirt racing circles. There is a common American myth that states that Rueckert has won every dirt race he competed in (although this is not true) and that "Der Kaiser" is actually the reincarnation of Kaiser Wilhelm (mixed in with Bernd Rosemeyer). Rueckert's legendary dirt track career did not earn him many friends in Europe, however, and Alitalia threatened to pull his sponsorship. Finally, Rueckert left America to compete in the 2007 GP2 Series, again for DPR.
Rueckert's return to GP2 was far more rewarding. His best finish was a fourth place at a rainy German sprint race and he generally kept the crashes to a minimum. However, while racing Jesus Plaza for seventh in the Hungarian round of the series, Rueckert ramped off the back of Plaza and landed in the barriers. The race was stopped but Rueckert was alright and would return the next day for the sprint race. Rueckert's toughness earned him the respect of his fellow drivers and the paddock and he was offered a testing role at the cash-strapped Super Aguri F1 team.
The Fall of Johannes Rueckert
2008 was a disaster for Rueckert. At the beginning of the year, Alitalia was forced to withdraw support to Rueckert after bankruptcy rumors swarmed the company. The press slammed Alitalia for pursuing sponsorships while it had only turned one profitable year since its inception in 1946. Rueckert was left without any money and Super Aguri folded in mid-May, leaving him without a drive. Out of job, the 2008 financial crisis cost Rueckert his home in America and most of his savings. Rueckert returned home to Germany to live with his parents at the age of 22, a failure in all respects.
In 2009, a miracle occurred. Having lost everything, he met Kay Lon in a random bar. After catching up, Kay Lon generously offered him his old German Formula Three job after he had moved to F1RWRS. Rueckert accepted and drove for Leipert Motorsport in 2010, finally taking his first win in an major European series at EuroSpeedway Lausitz. Rueckert impressed many and he was adopted back into the Ferrari Young Drivers Program (after being kicked out for lack of results in 2005). Rueckert made his triumphant return to GP2 in 2011 for Racing Engineering, taking an emotional win in his first race back and taking fifth in the championship after three victories. His racing career back on track, Rueckert got married to his childhood sweetheart and looked to have a bright future ahead of him.
In 2012, Rueckert was one of the favorites to win the GP2 Series. However, just before the season opener, Rueckert crashed his personal motorcycle, breaking both his legs and suffering a hip injury. Rueckert was close to death for three days as the racing world looked on in horror. Finally, Rueckert pulled through but would remain out for the 2012 season. His only comments were "I think me and Juan Pablo know that four-wheels don't translate to two." He returned to GP2 in late 2013 and took a podium in the final race of the year.
The Return of Johannes Rueckert
Rueckert then offered his servies to Anton Bosevic's Hydook Racing Team. Hydook accepted and Rueckert joined in the 2014 F2RWRS season. Rueckert opened the year with a disappointing performance and the 2014 F2RWRS Turkish Grand Prix. Although Rueckert qualified ninth, he had a bad start and dropped back through the field before eventually retiring with a loose wheel. His teammate Bosevic also retired with tyre problems, prematurely ending Hydook's race. At the next race in Monaco, Rueckert finished in fifth place after starting in thirteenth, Hydook's first points of the season. Rueckert's good form continued into the French GP where he qualified fourth and finished in fifth place. Rueckert retired from the lead with an engine failure in Great Britain, notching Hydook's second double-DNF of the season. Rueckert then went three races without a points finish before finally getting back on the board with an eighth place at the Belgian Grand Prix. He followed that up with his best performance of the season, taking second place at the Hungarian GP. He managed three more points finishes in the rest of the season and completely dominated his teammate. However, at the last race of the season, Rueckert was outqualified by his new teammate, Enrico Molinaro. Neither driver was able to finish the race. Rueckert finished the year in a respectable ninth place in the Drivers' Championship but refused to make a move to the F1RWRS, pointing out that the F2RWRS was "more fun".
|2003||German Karting Championship (KF3)||Independent||17th|
|2004||German Karting Championship (KF1)||Independent||10th|
|2005||GP2 Series||Dave Price Racing||24th|
|2006||Eastern States Amateur Dirt Racing||Rock n' Kaiser Roll Racing||1st|
|2007||GP2 Series||Dave Price Racing||16th|
|2008||Formula One||Super Aguri||Tester|
|2009||Did Not Participate||-||-|
|2010||German Formula 3||Leipert Racing||7th|
|2011||GP2 Series||Racing Engineering||5th|
|2012||Did Not Participate (injury)||-||-|
|2013||GP2 Series||Racing Engineering||18th|
|2014||F2RWRS||Hydook Racing Team||9th|
|2015||F2RWRS||Hydook Racing Team||ongoing|