Deceased Race Car Driver’s Posthumous Book Takes a Surprising Turn

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Dirt track champion Rusty Cummings leaves behind "For a Million Summers."

Former dirt track race car driver and SUPR champion Rusty Cummings completed one last race before he passed away from complications due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2011: He finished writing a novel. The gritty veteran of the tracks passed away four months after being diagnosed with the disease and mere hours after he signed off on the final draft of his book. To the surprise of many, however, the book he produced wasn’t a rough and tumble action yarn about the thrills and perils of dirt track racing; instead, Cummings wrote a tender, literate and melancholy love story called “For a Million Summers”, which was recently released by Bush Publishing.

Writing as Russell J. Cummings instead of using his nickname ‘Rusty,’ the romantic thrust of his book marks a departure from his perceived persona, but his central character is an archetypal southern male athlete coming of age in Louisiana, very much like the Louisiana born and bred Cummings.

In “For a Million Summers,” Lance Conway is a baseball player, a sport that Cummings excelled at as a high school athlete before racing became his primary focus. The character also shares with his creator a passion for quintessentially southern outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. If Conway is indeed Cummings’ alter ego, the elements derived from his life do not end there. Before he passed away, Cummings confessed that, “Although my story is fictional, I found that partially using actual events, places and people made it easier to compile.”

Cummings’ family has found that the book’s thoughtful prose brings them great “comfort” in dealing with their loss. Daughter Dana says, “It’s his legacy, what he left for us to do something with.”

Indeed, the Cummings family is doing something to honor that legacy: part of the proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the Louisiana/Mississippi chapter of the A.L.S. association.

For more information about “For a Million Summers,” visit

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