One of the series' only international drivers, México's Rodrigo Ampudia is highly popular with fans, thanks in part to his high-flying, all-out driving style and easy-going approachability back in the pit area. Ampudia may still be a young gun, but having began his short course career more than a decade ago, he's actually one of the most experienced drivers in the Pro 2 field for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO. Despite the difficulty of taking on the likes of MacCachren, Menzies, McGrath, and Deegan, Ampudia and his small, family-run team continue to threaten for top finishes on a regular basis, and he always gives the fans a thrill wherever he goes. We sat down with Ampudia recently to ask him more about his career in the sport so far, and also to learn a bit about where he hopes to take that career in the future.
Q1: How did you get started in short course?
A1: My dad started racing Pro Lite, and after a few races, he gave me the opportunity to try it. I got the hole shot on the land rush start at Chula Vista.
Q2: When did you first move into the Pro ranks?
A2: I started in Pro Lite.
Q3: When was your first Pro win?
A3: I swept the (Labor Day) weekend at Crandon in 2007.
Q4: What are some of your significant career achievements so far?
A4: That one (sweeping the weekend at Crandon), and in 2008 I started racing Pro 2, and qualified first at Chula Vista.
Q5: How did last season go for you?
A5: Not how I'd like it to go. We saw multiple podiums slip away; we got crashed out of multiple opportunities. We were right there, and fast, so it was kinda a bittersweet season.
Q6: What does your race schedule look like for 2018?
A6: Just the Lucas series, and possibly some desert races.
Q7: What are your goals for 2018?
A7: I'd like to finish in the top five on every race weekend. Hopefully we'll be able to podium more and be championship contenders.
Q8: What are your longer term goals for your career?
A8: I'd like to go to South America and race the Dakar. I think it's a realistic and achievable goal, and I'd also like to race the Trophy Truck with my brothers.
Q9: Do you hope to turn racing into a career?
A9: It is my full-time career.
Q10: Who do you look up to in this sport?
A10: I guess you could say Carl Renezeder.
Q11: What have you sacrificed to get to where you are?
A11: Definitely a lot of time with family and friends, and family events. I have a cousin who's like a brother to me. He's getting married, and I can't go to the wedding because I have a race that same weekend.
Q12: What's your favorite track?
A12: Ensenada. Besides the fact that it's my hometown, the fans there are more energetic, and it has a unique layout.
Q13: What's your favorite memory from racing?
A13: There's a lot of 'em. The first win in Pro Lite was special, because I was a rookie in a very small family team, and we were still trying to see if we were even gonna keep doing it (this sport) for another year.
Q14: Who's your best friend in the sport?
A14: Probably Bryce Menzies is who we hang out with the most.
Q15: Why do you like short course?
A15: Because it's the most intense form of off-road there is.
Q16: Why should fans root for you?
A16: Because we (my family and I) love the sport and connecting with fans. I think it's an important part of the sport to give the fans a good experience, to meet them after the race.
Q17: What's your most embarrassing moment in racing?
A17: I broke my knee and had to call all my sponsors and tell them that I might not be able to race the next race. I did end up making it to the race, though, and wound up on the podium, but it was still embarrassing to maybe not be able to race, to make that phone call.
Q18: If you could race anything else in the world of motorsports, what would it be?
A18: A Pro 4.
Q19: What do you do to prepare yourself for competition?
A19: I try to ride my bicycle and motorcycle a lot. I drive my go-kart, and of course lots of tequila haha!
Q20: Who would you say most helped shape you into the person you are today?
A20: My dad. He's a good example to follow as a businessman and a family man, and he has a great passion for off-road, so it's inspiring to follow him and see if I can be something more.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long-standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the midwest tradition of short course off-road racing infused with a west coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door-to-door action to challenging, fan-friendly tracks. Our events can be seen on CBS, CBS Sports Network, MAVTV, and Live all season long on LucasOilRacing.TV. 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.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series