Monday, December 17, 2012

In the Dirt...

2012 saw Nissan continuing to ramp up its support of short course off-road racing in America.

Nissan expanded its corporate sponsorship to a number of efforts in both the TORC (The Off Road Championship) and LOORRS (Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series) series of events. While still the rarest of manufacturers seen in either series (typically dominated by your usual Ford, Chevy, Dodge and Toyota) Nissan chooses well when selecting those to whom it will lend support, and the results prove it.

In the 2012 TORC series (mostly mid-west located events), Nissan lent its support to long time driver Chad Hord and relative new comer Brad Lovell. Hord has won numerous events with his long time sponsor Boss Snowplow and had a prior history running under the Nissan banner. Hord’s 2012 season was nothing if not consistent as he took his big Pro 2 (full size, V8, 2WD) Nissan Titan to a third place finish in the overall standings for ’12. Of the 14 races this year, Hord would grab five 2nd place finishes and two thirds, only finishing lower than fifth, three times.

Brad Lovell does not have nearly the history in short course racing that Hord possesses, being more known for his rock crawling efforts. That did not stop his relatively new operation from reaching for the golden ring this year, and grab it he did. Lovell has quickly learned the rough and tumble style necessary to drive these large and fast trucks through jumps and tabletops weekend after weekend. Between Lovell’s skills and the incredible reliability of his Pro Light (mid-size, V8, 2WD) Frontier, he would win the fourth and fifth races of the season while finishing as the runner up in three others. Similar to Hord, Lovell would constantly appear at the top of the leaderboard, never finishing lower than sixth in any race. Brad and his Frontier locked up the season Pro Light championship on the last weekend of racing in ’12 exclaiming “This is a testament to a lot of hard work from our crew. I can't believe it. Awesome”

Over in the 2012 LOORS series the big story was Carl Renezeder, who has had a longstanding relationship with Nissan, was driving a V8 Titan in both the Pro 2 and Pro 4 (full size, 4WD) classes. At the beginning of the 15 race season Renezeder stood only a handful of race wins away from the amazing total of 100 short course wins in his career. His season started off slow with little to show for his efforts but really turned the corner during the final eight rounds of racing in both classes. With two wins and a third in the final eight races of the Pro 2 season and three wins and a second in the last nine races of the Pro 4 season, Renezeder showed that his Nissan was a force to be reckoned with. He would finish third in season points in Pro 4 and sixth in Pro 2—and yes, he did crest the 100 win marker, finishing with a total of 104 short course wins when the season was over.

Also involved in Nissan’s GT Academy driver training program, Renezeder has taken off for England during ’12 to England in order to assist racing contestants on their off-road driving techniques. Says Nissan’s Senior Manager of Motorsports Marketing and Operations in North America, Ron Stukenberg, “Working with Carl is a sponsor’s dream…Carl is articulate, knows the sponsor’s product and believes in it.”

Finally we have a Nissan backed racer who split time between both the LOORRS and TORC series bouncing back and forth across the country. In truth Casey Currie has been at home in the Pro Lite division of both series for a while now, likely racing more short course events over the past four years than nearly anyone else, having Nissan vehicles beneath him for the majority of that time. Currie ran the full 15 event LOORRS schedule taking two wins, four seconds and three thirds, finishing just off the season podium in fourth overall.

Over in the TORC series Currie did not run a full season but in running half of the 14 races he garnered three wins, one second and one third. To say he was a dominant force in when running in that series is a substantial understatement.

With both the Titan and the Frontier being a bit long in the tooth (OK, more than a bit) and complete redesigns likely to be introduced for 2014 Nissan is likely to continue ramping up its support of these efforts so that 2013 may bring even more impressive results.

No comments: