Carl Renezeder may have fallen one position away from winning a double-double at the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series 4 Wheel Parts Off Road Nationals at Glen Helen Raceway a couple weeks ago, but there were plenty of other things to talk about during the weekend of racing near Los Angeles.
With more grandstand seating, the capacity crowd was even larger than the sellout of last August. The fans were treated to a double dose of racing, and hard-fought battles in every class.
In Memory of Ox
The weekend was dedicated to the memory of Jeff “Ox” Kargola, the Super Lite competitor killed riding in a motorcycle event in Baja California, Mexico, only a couple weeks prior. Having recently earned his first Super Lite victory at the beginning of the season, he looked set to add more short course off-road wins to his honors in freestyle motocross and desert motorcycle racing.
Kargola had many friends throughout the paddock, but among the closest was his fellow Metal Mulishaman who hailed from the same hometown of San Clemente, Calif. Kargola was riding with Steele in his Desert Assassins “Rip to the Tip” event when he crashed and later succumbed to his injuries.
“My wife Heidi and I were lucky enough to know Ox for 14 years and share our lives with him,” said Steele during a moving ceremony before Saturday's racing. “We've talked about it, a lot of us here, about how much fun he was and Jeff's smile and how special all of you people were to him. I want you to remember not us up here in tears, but how special Jeff is and all the things he accomplished in his life, and how much fun he had doing it. He lived a life that was just amazing.”
Steele ran his Pro Lite truck with the number 0x in Kargola's memory, as did fellow friend Trigger Gunn, racing Super Lite for the first time for Ox.
New Look to Pro Lite
Pro Lite had a couple of new features at Glen Helen. One was the first appearance of V8-powered trucks in the class, courtesy of Todd Cunningham and Casey Currie; the other was Stephan Papadakis's new Honda Ridgeline.
The V8 crate engines were recently written into the Pro Lite rules for the Lucas series. It was a package that Currie was familiar with, having won a championship with a V8-powered truck in the Midwest. But he arrived at Glen Helen intending to run the four-cylinder he had competed with at Firebird and Surprise. A big puff of smoke in practice meant that if he wanted to qualify, he'd have to use his V8 truck, which was standing by.
“We had some motor problems in practice,” said Currie, who qualified third for Saturday's race. “Either we didn't run qualifying at all and start in the back, or run the V8 and see how it goes. I was honestly hoping for a top 10, and to be in the top three, it shows the V8 package is the way to go.”
The V8 crate motors put out a bit more power than the race-prepared four-cylinders, so the trucks have to weigh more. The tradeoff is that the V8s aren't as fragile as the high-strung fours, and are cheaper to buy and run.
“I was one of the first believers that it could be fast. Everyone tells you over and over again it's not going to be fast, and we proved then wrong,” Currie says.
Some will stick with the four-cylinders, though, including the new Honda K24 in Papadakis's Ridgeline-Bodied truck. He brought it out for the first time at Glen Helen and, although he had problems in both races, had it solidly mid-pack in qualifying for Sunday.
“Our history with the race team has always been doing more innovative stuff,” says Papadakis, who, prior to entering short course off road racing last year had tackled drag racing, drifting and road racing. “The Pinto motor, which is the competitive engine package right now, is old and quite developed. That's not how we like to go racing. So we looked around and saw the Honda K24 has parts availability, it's a current platform engine and has tons of potential.
“At the same time, it's something to talk about – ‘Hey, it's a Honda Ridgeline on the track!'”
Three Times a Racer
In what may be a first, RJ Anderson ran six races over the Glen Helen weekend, two each in his usual Unlimited UTV and Super Lite classes, plus adding Pro Lite to his repertoire.
He even managed to earn two wins, one each in his regular classes. His best finish in Pro Lite was on Sunday, when he finished a very respectable fourth behind Brian Deegan, Kyle LeDuc and Chris Brandt.
Anderson leads the Super Lite points, having scored two wins, a second and two thirds in six races this season.
After Round 6 in San Bernardino, Calif.:
Rick Huseman 302
Carl Renezeder 285
Kent Brascho 222
Carl Renezeder 280
Brian Deegan 261
Rob MacCachren 244
Chris Brandt 295
Brian Deegan 280
Rodrigo Ampudia 242
Jerry Whelchel 272
Steven Greinke 271
Doug Fortin 261
RJ Anderson 275
Patrick Clark 251
Chad George 248
Quentin Tucker 280
Curt Geer 278
Dave Mason 272
Corry Weller 285
Code Rahders 273
Doug Mittag 272
John Dempsey 272
Chad George 290
RJ Anderson 288
Robert VanBeekum 281