When Randy Renfrow was a young driver racing at Wake County Speedway in North Carolina there were several older drivers there he would pick on and call “the old man.”
Now, racing Late Model Stocks at his home track at 63 years old, Renfrow knows how those old men felt.
“Now I’m the old man. Now they call me the old man,” Renfrow said with a laugh. “Be careful what you say. It comes back to you.”
The former NASCAR Truck Series driver may be in his sixth decade of racing, but he’s still able to add to his record win total at Wake County – a quarter-mile asphalt track in Raleigh, North Carolina that is in its first season of NASCAR-sanction.
“I’m 63 and I can still go do it, so that makes me feel pretty good too,” he said.
With 84 career wins, Renfrow is the all-time leader in victories at Wake County, which is just 15 miles from his home. In 2019 he won four of the six late model races he ran, and has one second place finish this season.
Seeing the record holder run at his home track though is a rare occurrence for fans, but Renfrow knows he has a lot of people who want to see him race as often as possible.
“I’ve got a lot of fans around here all through the years,” he said. “And whenever it is I’m not running fans will call me or text me, ‘Are you coming? Are you coming?’ so I like to go and hang out every now and then. It’s pretty fun to do that every now and then.”
Renfrow raced 48 times in the NASCAR Truck Series from 1996-2003, and made one NASCAR Cup Series start in 2002. Nowadays, he’s only able to get in the car about six or seven times a year because he owns a Super Late Model and a modified and works full-time as a driver development coach.
When he quit racing full-time 18 years he started working in driver development with Joey Coulter, who went on to race in the NASCAR Truck and Xfinity Series. Renfrow still works with Coulter, who drives Renfrow’s modified. NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Gray Gaulding was also a student of Renfrow’s, and he won a Super Late Model race at Wake County in Renfrow’s car when he was 13 years old.
Renfrow said he gets calls from all over the country from people wanting to bring their young racers to him to help them get started in the sport. The racing veteran said it means a lot to give young drivers help because he knows how difficult it can be to get into the sport.
He’s even raced against some of his protégés from time-to-time.
“I like to see these young kids and see what they can do,” Renfrow said. “That’s pretty cool too because I like to see them get going and sort of progress. I hate to see them leave here, but I like to see them progress. It’s pretty cool.
“I know what it was like when I started trying to find somebody to help me. My dad actually funded my very first car. We built it when I was 13. And I realized how hard it was to do. I kind of made it up through the ranks without a lot of money, but I was taught what to do. So now whenever I can get one of these little young kids going good it makes me feel good to know that what I’m doing is working, the way I’m going about it.”
Renfrow’s coaching style is to be easy and patient and make sure his students really learn all about the car. He said he gets more calls than he can do, and he believes his laid-back style is what attracts young drivers to him.
“There’s no pressure. When a guy comes to drive your car and he’s 13 he’s not supposed to know anything about the car. That’s just the way it works. So you’ve got to teach them about the car, and when you make changes I always tell them what I do so they can learn about the car.
“You’ve just got to be patient and help them get going. It’s really amazing to see what some of these kids can do. It’s just pretty cool to see a kid enjoying it and then he goes out and wins. It’s hard to do. It’s harder to win than it used to be. It takes a lot of money to do it and even people that don’t have the money to really do it, I still try to help those people too. I help people outside of my program. I have cars that I help set up that I don’t race against. Different kids at the race track at Wake County, I get a lot of calls on basic set up stuff to help them get going. I always offer that for free. It makes you feel good to help people… If they ask you for your help you need to help them. It’s all worth it to me.”
It’s kind of “hit or miss” for fans to catch Renfrow racing at Wake County, he said, though he does plan to race there this Friday night. The track known as “America’s Favorite Bullring” was the very first track Renfrow ever raced on when he was just shy of turning 15 in 1973.
Even though he’s the “old man” out there now, he still enjoys getting in the car as often as he can. And if he isn’t racing at his home track, one of his young protégés may be.
“They always have some of the best racing there because it is so small. Everybody is on top of each other. You can’t really get away from each other,” Renfrow said of Wake County. “It’s a pretty cool little track. It’s one of a kind.”