One gets the impression that Carl Renezeder doesn't like to sit still.
“I don't relax too much,” says the driver of the No. 17 Lucas Oil Pro 2 Unlimited and No. 1 Lucas Oil Pro 4 Unlimited trucks in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Driving two trucks in short course off road racing doesn't leave a lot of time for sitting around, especially with another career as a real estate developer and also as husband to Kelley and father of four children. But surely he finds some time for fun.
“I do a lot of things for fun. I love to snow ski, surf, I do triathlons – both the XTERRA off-road and the regular ones – I do a lot of ocean swimming. I live a very active lifestyle,” says the Southern California native who now makes his home in Laguna Beach in Orange County, Calif. “We take advantage of the good weather and the option of a lot of things to do. Mountain biking in Laguna Beach is like surfing the North Shore [of Oahu]; it's pretty awesome. I'm always doing something.”
The 46-year-old Renezeder started racing in the desert about 20 years ago, beginning with buggies then moving to trucks. He saw short course off-road racing on TV and decided he wanted to try it – it's a natural fit for someone who rode motocross as a hobby when he was younger. He found a rusted truck that someone had bought from Walker Evans before deciding the sport wasn't for them, bought it and took it to Curt LeDuc to prepare.
In the ensuing years, Renezeder has amassed nearly 90 short course wins and seven championships, including winning both the Pro 4 and Pro 2 Unlimited titles in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series in 2009. He's also won the Baja 1000, teaming up with Mark Post and Rob MacCachren for victory in 2007. The wins may come faster when you're running two races every competition day, but they certainly don't come easier. For Renezeder, it's the way he likes it, and there are things to love about both trucks.
“I like the way you can attack in the Pro 4,” he explains. “The four-wheel drive makes it so you can drive more aggressively. The Pro 2 you have to dance a little more; it's more finesse. Depending on the track, both trucks can be fun. I can't tell you which one I like driving better. One day it's the 4, the next day it's the 2. Since I drive both, it's pretty tough to stay on top of both classes. But I have a strong team, a lot of support and somehow we manage to do it.”
He's had a tougher go this season than last. After the second trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he was fifth in Pro 2 points and second in Pro 4. However, for him it's not always about the wins; sometimes it's about the fight. He's got some big wins, but those aren't always the most memorable.
“Some of my favorite races I haven't won – it's just been an awesome battle. There are a lot of big races I've been pretty fortunate to have on the résumé,” he says, noting the Governor's Cup, the Borg-Warner Cup, the Jason Baldwin Memorial and the Nissan Nationals, not to mention last year's inaugural Rockstar Energy Lucas Oil Challenge Cup. “I just like the battle. It's when it comes down to the wire and you're laying it out there 150 percent and so is the next guy. And if you can win, that makes it all the better.”
That goes right into what Renezeder says he likes about short course – the toe-to-toe racing, the strategy. A driver isn't alone in the desert. He's got to fight off tough competitors like MacCachren, Ricky Johnson and Jeremy McGrath – three Pro 2 drivers he says he hates to see in his rearview mirror – or Johnny Greaves, Rick Huseman and Scott Douglas, some of the top competition he names in Pro 4.
There are things he doesn't like, such as when his crew spent four weeks flat out building his new Pro 4 truck and then have to pull a late night on Friday night of race weekend because something broke or got damaged. But, as he says, that's racing.
And the battle the next day makes it all worth it. Especially when the wins come often.