After a long-distinguished career in racing, that includes 9 championships and countless wins at the most prestigious events in off-road racing, Carl Renezeder decided this season would be his last. How fitting that the #17 Lucas Oil Products / BFGoodrich Tires Ford would be raced for the final time in 2017. In fact, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series retired the number 17 during opening ceremonies for the final points race of the season at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ. For the many fans that travelled from across the country to see Carl race one more time, it was a bit emotional as the finality began to sink in. Thankfully the emotions changed from melancholy to pure adrenaline as the Pro-4’s fired up their snarling V8 engines.
Carl’s goal this season was to have fun, celebrate his fans, and mash the throttle down as much as possible. During qualifying, Carl ran third fastest which put him on the inside of row 2, a good place to start. In turn 3 of lap one, Carl threw the truck into the corner so hard that the engine stalled. He was unable to re-start the motor so the yellow caution flag came out and Carl was sent to the back of the field. Anyone who has witnessed Carl race over the years knows that he has a special knack for working his way through the field. Getting put to the rear was not the game plan but it gave the fans another taste of Carl fired up, and using his full bag of tricks to get to the front. It sounds strange, but it would almost have been a disappointment if he got the hole-shot and ran out front unopposed. After only a few laps, Carl had managed to pass everyone but Rob MacCachren who was leading the race. Running bumper to bumper, MacCachren stalled his engine the same way Carl had.
With nowhere to go, Carl ran into the back of Rob’s truck and their bumpers got locked together. Once again, the yellow flag came out and Carl was sent to the back of the field. Again Carl worked his way through the field and was running in third place. While making his move to the inside of Greg Adler, his right front tire fell into a deep rut and the rim got caught in the dirt. The #17 rolled over onto the roof and then back on all 4 tires. Carl re-fired the engine, but once underway it became apparent that a shock had broken, ending his race.
“The track was really good, I enjoyed the track” said Carl, “They threw a few new obstacles in that actually worked to our benefit because it made it harder coming out of turn 3. They added three steep bumps that had no rhythm so you had to kind of smash through them. There’s a few little tricks that I know how to keep the truck level going through there and get the power to the ground quickly so that was good for us. I think the biggest thing for us about that race was that even though we didn’t finish the race the fans were just going nuts. They were so excited; we had a line a mile long outside our pit after the race. It lasted an hour and a half with people saying how exciting that race was to see us going from the back to the front both times. I passed everybody twice! It was a fun race actually. The many fans telling me how much they appreciated what I’ve done in racing. That’s the best feeling I could have had ending my career. It wasn’t about winning another race or another championship; it was about winning the ultimate deal. Winning the ultimate deal is winning the fans and I think we did that.”
Carl was very proud of the fact that during his final qualifying run of his career for the Challenge Cup race the following day, he ran the fastest time to qualify on the pole. The Challenge Cup has the Pro-4’s racing against the Pro-2’s in a race for cash. The Pro-2’s get a head start off the line and try to outrun the faster Pro-4’s to the finish. Once again, Carl got contact from another driver that dropped him to the back. This time, he had to work his way up through both the Pro-4’s and the Pro-2’s. He worked his way up to 4th place but then got squeezed between a pair of trucks; flattening a tire and bending his steering linkage which ended his race. It was disappointing but it gave the fans another great show.
“That’s where the real racing comes in,” says Carl, “Anybody can go out and set a fast lap but the real art of racing is being able to pass people and analyze the situation in front of you. To extrapolate what’s happening, where people are coming from, and where they are going, and try to work your way through them. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt comfortable in that situation.”
Even the most casual fans are well aware of the work Carl has done on the track, but many have never heard of the work behind the scenes that Carl has done over the years. This was noted as Bob Pattison of Lucas Oil said in his farewell speech at Carl’s final opening ceremony. Mr. Pattison stated the Lucas Oil Series would not be here today if it weren’t for Carl Renezeder and his involvement to keep short course off-road racing alive.
Short course racing will not be the same without Carl, but according to him, everything has a beginning and an end. “I will continue to support my kids, and my family who have supported me the entire way,” says Carl, “I will be sitting in the stands and cheering for my kids as they participate in their endeavors. I will be driving them around and doing a lot of things to give back to them.”
Carl Renezeder will forever be remembered for his many accomplishments and contributions to the sport of off-road racing. Thank you Carl for all you have done!
Photography By: Bink Designs & HighRev Photography