If you paid any attention to the heads-up scene in the mid 2000’s, you may remember the name Ronnie Duke, and the gang at Hardcore Racing in Fenton, Michigan. You may also remember that Duke’s team was at the forefront of the LSX drag racing movement at that time, turning in excellent performances from the team’s ProCharged GTO and ProCharged Trans Am machines – until he got busted for mortgage fraud on the level most of us can’t even fathom. One of the largest mortgage fraud schemes in the country, in fact, according to Detroit’s WXYZ. All of the trappings of the good life – race cars, helicopters, powerboats, and even race horses – were seized when the authorities moved in.
And then, one day in 2007, he turned himself in and gave up the goods on all 15 of his co-conspirators. After a lengthy trial, Duke was sentenced to 13 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and $94 million in restitution. But in a stroke of “what were you thinking?”…the judge decided to give Duke a chance to wrap up his personal affairs before reporting to prison, despite the pleas of the prosecutor that he might be willing to run. And that was the last that anyone’s seen of Ronnie Duke since last April.
The houses that were a part of his scam have fallen into disrepair, continuing the wreckage of the Detroit area in the process, with no apparent way for prospective buyers to overcome the shoddy paperwork to reclaim the real estate.
Currently, the FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of Ronnie Duke, so if you know where he is, give them a call at 313-965-2323, and help to close the chapter on one of drag racing’s most notorious dirtbags.