Rich Rubenstein, of Matthews, N.C., passed away at age 72 on March 1 following a lengthy and valiant battle with cancer.
Rich was born in Philadelphia and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Rider University, in Lawrenceville, N.J. After graduation, he worked as a teacher and coach in high schools at Jackson and Lakewood, N.J. At Jackson, he started the baseball and wrestling programs, as well as the school newspaper.
A sports enthusiast, Rich played semi-pro baseball in the Jersey Shore League. He worked as a sports writer for the Asbury Park Press and served as sports editor at the Ocean County Observer in Toms River.
Rich's intro to motorsports came in the form of an offer from a friend who worked for CRC Chemicals. The company was starting a racing program and needed someone to oversee it. CRC became involved with sponsorship of Glenn Donnelly's DIRT organization in the 1970s and later offered financial backing to NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Richard Childress. Rubenstein remained with CRC for five years and also served as a vice president for DIRT for one year.
In the 1980s, NASCAR icon H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler recommended Rubenstein for the Sr. Marketing Director position for the Miller Brewing Company's motorsports program, working with drivers Bobby Allison and Bobby Hillin Jr.
Rubenstein opened the On Track Marketing agency in Harrisburg, N.C. in the early 1990s. His impressive client list included GM Goodwrench, Kodak, Exide Battery, Virginia Is For Lovers, Ferguson Plumbing, Northeastern Supply, Press Pass trading cards, Winnebago and Team Marines. On Track Marketing also handled drivers Dale Earnhardt Sr., Geoff Bodine, Harry Gant, Bobby Allison, Ken Schrader, Hermie Sadler, Hank Parker Jr., Jimmy Horton, Kenji Momota (NASCAR's first Japanese driver of the modern era) and ARCA stars Frank Kimmel and Dill Whittymore.
Rich gave a number of young hopefuls (including me) their start in the booming NASCAR industry of the '80s and '90s when many Northeasterners moved south to seek employment in the sport.
A memorial service was held on March 8 in the Chapel at the Hebrew Cemetery in Charlotte. He is survived by wife of 50 years, Phyllis, his mother, Betty, children Michael and Rachelle and sister Cindy. Contributions may be made in his name to the Carolinas Myeloma Research Fund through www.givecarolinas.org.
--- John Bisci, Gateway Motorsports Park ---