Bits from the Pits

Mar. 07, 2013

A Veteran Racer’s Big First Win

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Talking with a winning racer is always a treat, but that is especially true when you are talking to a racer who just won for the first time. I had that pleasure this week when I got a chance to speak with Jack DeRencin, the Super Comp winner in Phoenix. Even a week-plus after the win, DeRencin was still in a state of disbelief, in large part due to the fact that this wasn’t just his first national event win, it was his first win ever at any level.

Between the short phone conversation we had and the great information DeRencin emailed to me, I learned a lot about him. Though you will have to wait until next week when the new National Dragster comes out to read more about how he earned his win in Phoenix and the story behind the car in which he won, DeRencin shared quite a bit of other great info that I couldn’t quite squeeze into the ND article but felt was too good not to share.

“I was at the race by myself, parked in the dirt, behind the lake, the next-to-last spot, but I had so much support from friends back at home I found out later. After I won, I had so many texts, calls, emails I couldn’t keep up. I appreciate all the nice words; thanks, guys,” DeRencin said. “I have read all the National Dragster Super-class winning stories for years. I am just like them, the lucky guy that day. I made the better choices; that’s it. I am dedicated, I love Super Comp; I don’t plan on going away. I go to most races alone, hang out with my friends. I love it. The travel is the old truck driver in me.

“We know that there is a camaraderie in drag racing. I was parked next to two Super Street guys from Denver with their families, John Dexter and Wayde Samuel. They knew I was alone, and they asked if I needed anything. We shared stories, and I ran a timer by John for the final, and he said, ‘Sounds good to me.’ He has won several races, so before the final, I ask, ‘What do I do?’ He told me everything I needed to do, and after the race, he said, ‘I didn’t want to tell you … ,’ -- he doesn’t run many nationals, but when he did, if he didn’t win it or his friend, the guy next to him did. John, I kept your story ongoing.

“I had to have a staging-lane worker check my tires once. I had no help. I am so dedicated, and my perseverance came through. The bye to the final was big. You read about it, but until it happens to you in those conditions, you don’t know. I tried something on that run that didn’t work, yet another thing worked, and I had the number I needed. I told myself and Miss Frankenstein [his car], ‘Whatever you decide to do at the stripe, you have to live with it,’ so I chose to take the stripe; like I said, John Dexter and I nailed it.

“I was a wreck after I turned off the track. I don’t want this to sound crazy, but when the win light came on, I wasn’t surprised. I knew I had the right number. The next moment, I was shocked. I raised both hands in the air, then grabbed the steering wheel back. I said to myself, ‘Don’t crash the damn thing,’ and I used profanity. The camera crew was waiting, and I couldn’t talk. Heck, I couldn’t breathe or swallow in the lanes, then the ESPN camera was right in front, and I looked at the decal on the windscreen. I lost my engine builder, longtime friend Al Ventura, back in August; he sure would be proud, too.”

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