LAKE FOREST, CA (July 29, 2009) – The start of the second half of the season was a tough one for Carl Renezeder and his teamAlthough they were able to walk away from the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Complex last weekend with two second place finishes in Unlimited-2, as well as the points lead in both divisions, the accomplishments were overshadowed by motor problems, mechanical issues and an all-night thrash on Saturday night to get the Unlimited-4 back to race condition.
“We’ll definitely head home tonight with our tail between our legs,” commented a somber Renezeder at the end of the Unlimited-2 race on Sunday night. “Trying to race without rear brakes in a two-wheel-drive truck is like stepping into a boxing ring with both hands tied behind your back. I had no game and had to take what the track would give me. I know I should be excited about a podium finish, but I didn’t get to fight for it, so it’s just not the same.”
The lack of rear brakes in his Lucas Oil/General Tire Unlimited-2 was just the last in a long line of troubles that plagued the team during rounds seven and eight of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. The weekend started out well for the team when Renezeder qualified both trucks on the pole. Crew Chief, Mike Seat, drew four-row and three-row inverts for the Unlimited-4 and Unlimited-2 starts, respectively, putting Carl outside fourth row in the first race and outside third row in the second race on Saturday night.
The Unlimited-4 race seemed to start well. Hard contact from Kent Brascho on the first lap seemed to just be cosmetic damage, but the team would later realize that it was the start of catastrophic damage to a structural part of the chassis. After working his way to second place, Renezeder’s truck finally gave in, breaking major tubing out of the center of the truck, subsequently ripping out oil lines, the oil filter, killing the motor and damaging the entire drivetrain. With the raceshop only an hour’s drive from the track, the crew decided that it would be smarter to take the truck back to the shop to fix it with the right equipment. But, they still had another race to finish before they could be on their way.
Saturday’s Unlimited-2 race was well on its way to being another win for Renezeder; however, his ten-truck-length lead vanished on the last lap when the right rear tire came apart in turn three. He held onto the lead until the final turn, but couldn’t get enough drive off the corner to hold off Todd LeDuc.
With both races in the books, the team split up – half of them went back to the shop with the Unlimited-4, while the other half stayed to prep the Unlimited-2 for Sunday. When they were done with the Unlimted-2, they took a two-hour nap and then headed to the shop to relieve the others for a couple of hours. By 8:00 A.M. Sunday morning, the entire crew was working on the truck, and at 5:00 P.M. they rolled into the track with a race-ready truck. A two-lap shakedown proved that their hard work had paid off; their truck was ready for the 7:15 P.M. start.
A “Cinderella Story”, however, would not be the result. A few laps into round eight of Unlimited-4, while well ahead of the field, the radiator cap came off the truck. Renezeder’s radio had also come unplugged from his helmet, so it wasn’t until the mandatory yellow that driver and crew chief were able to communicate. Renezeder was able to duck into the pits for a replacement cap and stay on the lead lap, but it was too late. Too much damage had been done and the truck DNF’d for the second time in as many races.
The crew looked and felt dejected and exhausted, and had one more race to go. Unfortunately, the brake problem surfaced early in that race, and they spent the closing laps watching water spit out of the overflow. The motor seized just after the checkered flag flew, adding insult to an injury-filled weekend.
“It’s weekends like this that make us appreciate the good ones,” concluded Renezeder. “And it’s also weekends like this that remind me of the championship-caliber crew I have. Never once did they complain about having to work through the night, their attitudes stayed positive, and they took it all in stride. We’re all disappointed about the results, but we also know that we’ll bounce back from this with our confidence intact, ready to win more races.”
Even after a tough weekend, Renezeder was able to hang onto the points lead in Unlimited-4, but the gap went from 24 to just four. In Unlimited-2, two second place finishes moved him from fifth in the standings to first, four points ahead of Jeff Ward. These races will air on SPEED Channel on Sunday, August 23 at 1:00 P.M. and 2:00 P.M. EST.
Quick Stats on Carl Renezeder
Birth date: April 16, 1964 Residence: Laguna Beach, CA Home Town: Montebello, CA Family: Wife: Kelley; 4 Children Education: UCLA graduate, All-American Water Polo player Hobbies: XTERRA triathlon, swimming, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, surfing
84 Career Short Course Wins (8 in Lucas Oil Off Road Series, 65 in CORR, 10 in WSORR, 1 in RJORGP) 5-time National Champion (CORR Pro-2 – 2005 & 2006, CORR Pro-4 – 2003, 2007, 2008)
2009 to date: 3 Unlimited-2 wins, 5 Unlimited-4 wins