LAKE FOREST, CA – Statistics certainly say a lot about a driver, his career and his team, but by no means does it define him. You can toss around record winning streaks, number of championships, quantity of wins, track records and qualifying poles to make a point about a lifelong motorsports career, and those definitely stake a claim in the history books. But if you want to find a legend in any sport, you need to see the athlete in action when he thinks no one is watching – those true character moments. Carl Renezeder’s name will be in short course history books indefinitely for his accomplishments on the track – there’s no doubt about that. But he will be a hero to kids and adults alike for decades to come because of his character, integrity and professionalism outside of the truck.
This past weekend at the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series event at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, California, there was one such example that caught the attention of a series official. At the end of the weekend, one of the staging officials made a point to tell Renezeder’s crew chief, Bill Smith, about a moment that made him happy to be a part of this sport. There was a hectic moment when Renezeder was on his way to staging, trying to make a quick restroom stop before climbing into his truck for a race. The official saw a kid yell Renezeder’s name and was thrilled to see him not only stop for the kid to sign his poster, but also motion the kid’s friends over to do the same and take some photos. It’s moments like those that live in a child’s memory forever, and why Renezeder will find himself a legend of this sport in years to come.
“I love my fans, especially the kids,” commented a humble Renezeder when asked about that moment after the weekend was over. “It amazes me every weekend that there are fans out there that truly love what we do out there on the track – there wouldn’t be a sport without the fans. I’m honored they want my truck and name on their wall at home.”
If you’ve spent any time around Renezeder during his 15-year short-course career, you’d know that a moment like the one just described is not an anomaly. It’s just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of the kind of person he is. If you haven’t, simply ask the three U.S. Marines that were guests of Renezeder this weekend: Lcpl Brad Schoffstall (MCAS Miramar), Cpl Jeremy Gagnon (MCAS Yuma) and Cpl Andrew Adrian (MCB Camp Pendleton). They would each have their own Renezeder story to tell that goes well beyond the racetrack.
However, if statistics are still your thing, there are plenty of those to go around. Renezeder stood on the podium in all four races this weekend with two wins in Pro-4, and a second and a third in Pro-2, and he never qualified outside the top three. His two wins extended his undefeated 2013 streak in Pro-4, and going back to 2012, it makes the stat eight wins in a row and ten wins out of the last 11 four-wheel-drive races. He leads the Pro-4 points (a class in which he has six championship titles to his name) and is second in Pro-2 points (he’s a two-time champion in that division). And to round things out, Sunday’s victory was his 111th short-course win in under 15 seasons of competition. Cool, right? All very cool, indeed. But it’s the moment when he looks you in the eye, shakes your hand, and sincerely thanks you for coming out to the race that makes you want to cheer for him, a legend of the sport still competing at the top of his game, when the green flag drops.