ICYMI | Catching Up with Luke Renzland | Presented by Yamaha Motor Canada

By Billy Rainford

Presented by Yamaha Motor Canada

We’re all going a little stir crazy these days, but, fortunately, #6 Luke Renzland has come to the rescue to entertain us with another fun interview with the New Jersey native.

There are lots of characters in our sport and Luke is definitely one of them. I always have a great time when I get the chance to talk with him. He finds the perfect balance between seriousness to perform well on the track while keeping things light and positive in the pits. It’s refreshing.

We didn’t see him run his #6 up here in Canada in 2020, due to the whole COVID problem. Here’s what he had to say when we got in touch with him this week for Frid’Eh Update #6:

Here’s what Luke had to say when we got in touch with him. Shown here at the Calgary MX National in 2019where he actually finished 2nd… | Bigwave photo

Direct Motocross: Hello, Luke. We didn’t see you up here in Canada to run your #6, which was too bad, but it was definitely a strange year. I don’t remember if I’ve asked you these first couple questions before, so I’m going to ask them now. How did you first get into Motocross when you were a kid?

Luke Renzland: My dad raced raced motocross in the 80’s and ended up hanging up the boots when life got busy and his priorities changed. But, when my brother (Kody Renzland) and I were young, I think my dad saw an opportunity to get back into the sport and started us out on PW 50s. I don’t think he ever meant for it to be anything more than just a hobby, but the whole family continued to get deeper and deeper into the sport and eventually we ended up here!

What was your first race number and why did you choose it?

My first number was 43. My parents signed my brother and I up for our local district membership and simply asked for the lowest two-digit numbers available… So, Kody ended up with 19 and I was 43.

Circling back, why didn’t we see you up here with your MX101 FXR Yamaha team in 2020?

Obviously, 2020 was a weird year with the pandemic and everything. Once COVID hit, the whole world changed and it was no exception for the entire sport of Motocross. MX101 ended up getting hit hard and some of their sponsors backed out of agreements that they had in place which turned the pay for the riders to $0. Also, the series changed to the 5-race schedule and cut their pay tremendously, forcing me to rethink things. I’m at the point of my career where I need to make a certain amount of money to support this “hobby” and I just wasn’t able to make the journey to Canada to end up in the red.

Luke drove north to race Gopher Dunes on his practice 450 in 2018. | Bigwave photo

In 2018, you showed up at Gopher Dunes to race the 450 class. Can you tell us about that?

In 2018, I was a part of the Traders Racing Yamaha team here in the states and we were a Supercross-Only team, with a few of the eastern US nationals thrown in. So, I had some free time that summer and have always heard about how brutal Gopher Dunes was, so I decided to throw my practice bike in the van and go torture myself for a weekend!

I ended up 7th that day, I believe. I struggled a bit with the 450 since I was only racing 250s at the time. But it was a hell of an experience and a brutal day in the dunes! I pitted next to the MX101 tent that day, and I think that ended up helping me land on their team the next season when I wasn’t able to lock down a deal in the US. It’s pretty cool how it all worked out, considering that wasn’t my goal of going to Canada for that race.

This year, instead of coming to Canada, you raced some AMA Nationals on a 450. How did that go for you? I see quite a few zeroes in the points columns…

Wow, Billy isn’t taking it easy today. Yes, I raced the AMA outdoors on a privateer Husqvarna with the help from some amazing sponsors and friends. I had a few weeks on the bike before round 1, and ended up really struggling with my suspension tech trying to find a setting that I felt somewhat comfortable on. I ended up on the ground a lot which is odd for me… I was just having a hard time riding the bike, let alone competing with an extremely stacked 450 class.

My highlight of the season was a 12th place at round 1, battling (JoeySavatgy and (BrocTickle back and forth all the way to the checkered flag in the second moto. After that, I blew up a couple engines and dealt with more bike problems than I’ve ever seen. Eventually, my season ended with a crash at Red Bud resulting in a concussion. 

See, that’s all I meant with the “zeroes” comment. I knew there had to be a reason. What have you been doing down there in Florida sine the end of the MX season?

After the season, I went back to NJ to heal my brain and then worked through the fall into November which is when I migrated back to Florida to start getting myself ready for the 2021 season.

This photo appears first in my “Luke Renzland Gives Me the Skunk Eye” album. It’s from track walk at the East Rutherford Supercross in 2015. | Bigwave photo

Tell us more about this latest shoulder/AC joint injury? What’s the story and the prognosis?

The story is pretty embarrassing, but just goes along with the trend for me lately. I was on a mountain bike ride and took a trip to endo-nesia, resulting in an AC joint separation, a thumb sprain, and a sprain of my sternoclavicular joint. I’ve been healing from that for about 5 weeks now.

How are things going down there at Dreamland? You’re doing schools and things, right? Any Canuck sightings? Who ya got down there?

Things are going good down here. Right now we have Austin Jones and Jamie Powell training hard aboard their MX101 Yamahas and looking to turn some heads in 2021. We also have a Daytona school coming up where we are collaborating with AJ Catanzaro to give amateurs the opportunity to train on a Daytona-style course the week before they compete at the RC race in Daytona.

Did I see you’ve added a new track? What’s the goal with your place?

We didn’t really add a new track, we just added some new sections to our Sand Track. It was always a little tight and more of a “turn track,” so we wanted to open it up, add some jumps, and make it a well-rounded outdoor track. It’s more fun than our big jump track for the amateurs and the vets.

The goal with Dreamland is to have a quality facility to hold smaller, more exclusive camps, where we bring in riders and give them everything from a riding program, coaching on the track, a gym to do their workouts, and better themselves and their results! We never want to have a ton of riders here as an “open practice” track, we prefer to keep it more exclusive and give the riders a place to focus on themselves and their craft.

Luke grabbing the checkered flag in a moto at Wild Rose MX in Calgary in 2019. | Bigwave photo

Did you know MX101 is now running the Yamaha 450 program? Wink, Wink. What are your plans for 2021 racing?

Yes, I stay in contact with Kevin (Tyler) and he’s been filling me in on everything going on up there… I’m so pumped that he’s getting the support he deserves from Yamaha to be able to run a full program with 450s along with the 250s. I’ve heard that they are looking for a Canadian rider to fill the spot, but Kevin knows I’m interested and I think he knows that I’m the man capable of achieving their 2021 goals.. But, we will see what happens as we move forward.

Any more Supercross in your future?

Yes, I planned to race the West Coast 250 series this year but obviously this shoulder injury kinda crushed that plan to dust. Supercross is always the main goal and I’d never shy away from an opportunity to race it.

Will you go watch any of the Florida rounds or do you hate going to races when you’re not actually racing?

I love going to watch races in person but I don’t have any plans set to go to any of the Florida rounds. It’s looking wet and sloppy for the first two in Orlando at the moment, but maybe I’ll make my way down there if the forecast changes.

Hey, let me ask you, what’s your favourite track up here in Canada?

I think my favorite track from the 2019 season was Prince George… The Layout was really Flowing and the elevation change was fun for me. I also really enjoyed Deschambault for the same reasons, plus sand is my favorite!

Luke and his brother, Kody, run things down at Dreamland in Florida. | Bigwave photo

And can we end this with a funny story about Kevin Tyler, Cale Foster, or maybe Marco Cannella? You must have something. 

Kevin is always fun to be around, a bit of a class clown… It was awesome having him as a “boss” and having Marco as my “lil bro” under the tent. The inside of that trailer rarely had a downbeat vibe, we were always laughing, singing, dancing, and just enjoying the race days as a whole.

I am always late, whether it’s to a dinner date or a doctor’s appointment or Practice at a race, I’m always late… I just have the funniest memories of Kevin coming in the trailer to tell us the amount of time we had to get down to the start for practice in the mornings.

Usually, he would come in to tell us that our practice was on the line and I’d still be butt naked singing some Eminem and acting cool as a cucumber just to get a rise out of Kevin. He hated me on those race mornings, but I think, in hindsight, he got a kick out of it.

Have you been working on your ping pong game, in case I can ever leave Canada again?

I really haven’t played ping pong in a few months, but it’s like riding a bicycle… I’d never forget how to beat you on the table!

How about the band? Have you been gigging or working on some new tunes?

Randy Saltine is always ready to rock… Name the time and place, and he will be there to entertain. We are hoping to get up to Sand Del Lee to host a karaoke night at the national! We wanted to do it for the 50th anniversary last year, but we missed out. Hopefully, this year we can make it happen!

Dreamland definitely lives up to its name! | Bigwave photo

OK, I just opened up Pandora’s Box and could go on forever, but I’ll cut you some slack. Thanks for talking with us today. Is there anyone you’d like to thank before we let you get back to giant whips on that crazy track of yours?

I definitely need to give it up to Kevin and the whole MX101 team for still having me aboard one of their bikes and keeping me on the program. Even though 2020 went sideways and 2021 is uncertain, Kevin is still giving me the chance to stay on his bike and stay ready for whatever may come next. So, Kevin… I appreciate you!