CORONA, CA (March 5, 2019) - After surprising even himself a bit by capturing the 2018 Rookie- of-the-Year honors in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro Lite division, Jimmy Weitzel is thinking bigger as the new season nears.
"Our main goal is to aim for a top-five position in points," Weitzel said in a recent interview. "My last race, I got third in the Challenge Cup. Now, I'm looking forward to being consistently top five and hopefully some podiums during the season.
"We're definitely a smaller team, but we try to be big."
Weitzel, 17, is eager to get the new season rolling March 16 at the General Tire SoCal Shootout Presented by K&N Filters at Glen Helen Raceway. After his family owned team finished seventh in points a year ago, never finishing outside the top-10 in his first go-around in the highly competitive class.
All of this without a major sponsor on the truck. That made the impressive rookie season even more special for Weitzel.
"Winning Rookie-of-the-Year meant a lot," Weitzel said. "I came into the season and didn't expect anything too crazy. Then I was in a battle with Mason Cullen for Rookie-of-the-Year. I started trying harder and harder and working harder to get the truck prepped."
Weitzel, of San Diego, is hands-on when it comes to helping prep the truck. That's not surprising considering racing is a family sport as both of Jimmy's parents once raced Off Road Rhinos and his dad, also named Jimmy, builds race-trucks for a living and is a two-time Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Mechanic of the Year.
"Two years in a row," the younger Weitzel said of his father. "I was racing Mod Karts at the time. My Dad was crew chief for Sheldon Creed when he won the championship and then the next year was crew chief for Brock Heger.
"Without my Dad's knowledge, I couldn't be this far into racing. With him knowing as much as he knows about building trucks from the ground up and everything that he knows, he's kind of handed that off to me. I've been learning here and there and trying to get more of his knowledge.
"The whole reason I am here racing is because of my Mom and Dad and their dedication to making this all work. I am very grateful to be able to have the family support structure that holds our racing program together."
Even with the family history in the sport, Jimmy couldn't have developed his driving skills with his own love for the sport. He said short-course racing is appealing to him for several reasons and had an interesting comparison to another sport.
"It's kind of like the racing version of an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fight," Weitzel said. "You're hitting and battling back and forth, going as fast as you can and pushing yourself as hard as you can. There's a lot of adrenaline and it kind of gets you out of your comfort zone."
Story by Lyndal Scranton
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro Lite division:
The Pro Lite class is for 2-wheel drive, mid-size V-8 trucks and Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series OEM Platform Engine trucks built on a standardized chassis. The trucks are 450-500 horsepower with a 12-inch front wheel travel limit and a 14-inch rear wheel travel limit. Maximum wheelbase is 106 inches and maximum track width is 74 inches. Minimum weight is 3,400 pounds, including driver. Pro Lite truck numbers are 1-99.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series pits the top short course off-road racing drivers against each other across an ever-expanding series of fan-friendly, pulse-pounding tracks. Born from the long-standing traditional home of midwestern short course off-road racing, and enlivened by the fast-emerging west coast short course movement, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing is the premier series in the world off short course off-road. Driven by Lucas Oil and the company's founder and CEO Forrest Lucas, both of whom have been long-time passionate supporters of this sport, the series continues to progress and evolve, carrying on the heritage of short course, as well as pushing its limits into the future. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course! For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com and be sure to sign up for our newsletter in our Newsletter Signup section of the home page.