Sheldon Creed has long been viewed as one of the guys destined to be the next Carl Renezeder – a short course off road prodigy. At only 15 years of age, he has four Lucas Oil Off Road Racing championships in four years in four different categories. And, like Renezeder, he's one of only three drivers to score two championships in the same year – Junior 1 Kart and Modified Kart in 2009.
He followed that with the Junior 2 Kart title in 2010, and last year won the SuperLite category in a dominating performance. Also in 2012, he ran half the season in Pro Lite, although without a lot of success. His best finish was a fifth in the opening race, but he struggled after that first weekend at Firebird.
This year is a different story. With crew chief Jimmy Weitzel reworking his Pro Lite over the winter and with the help of Tony Vanillo's Off-Road Management Group, Creed is coming on strong. He has two victories, sits third in the points behind Brian Deegan and RJ Anderson after Glen Helen and had a five-race podium streak in Rounds 5 through 9.
“I think a lot of it is experience. Last year I was just going out to do the best I can,” says Creed. “Jimmy [Weitzel] is a big part of it; he always has the truck 100 percent. We changed the back of it over the wintertime, changed the shocks and the handling a little bit. I think that helped a lot.”
His experience from last year taught him a few things, not the least of which was to calm down.
“I was just going as fast as I could and not even slowing down for the turns. Just calming down and driving the truck made a big difference,” he says.
Creed's season looked like it was going to start off big. In the second race of the season, Sunday at Firebird, Creed was battling with defending Pro Lite champ Anderson – and coming out on top. The race, as the Pro Lites usually do and especially so in the first weekend of the year, had a lot of caution periods, and this was the first weekend with the new rule that yellow flag laps didn't count toward the race total. After the final yellow, it was supposed to be a green-white checker. Creed finished that third lap in the lead and started to celebrate, but the checker hadn't waved. Anderson passed him and claimed the win for himself. That sort of thing could have devastated some drivers; but not Creed, who finished second and ran out of gas on the way to the podium.
“I didn't look at it as something bad. A second place was a win – it was my first podium in Pro Lite,” says Creed.
Adds Vanillo: I think from the team side of it, it gave us a sense of confidence. We could not only run with these guys, we could actually beat them. In our view, that was a win. We took our licks and learned a lot from that. We don't stop until we see the checkered flag, no matter what they say. I think that was a big confidence booster for the team and Sheldon.”
Creed showed up at Glen Helen last month with a fancy new graphics job and new Traxxas sponsorship. It was a deal that had come together only in the previous week. The weekend before he drove a Traxxas-sponsored truck in another series, which came about because he wanted to try out one of their RC cars. Now he has the company on his truck for the remainder of the season.
Creed isn't only hanging his hat on short course, although he has said he loves the people and atmosphere in off road racing. He's be looking to start a stock car program, has tested a Global RallyCross Supercar Lite, and has spent some time in sprint cars as well. His goal is to be a professional racecar driver, and if he keeps going the way his path has taken him so far, it's a good bet he'll get there.