As the son of Christine and Jeff Lutz, who wheels his ’69 Camaro in the Kooks Custom Headers Pro Street class, Jeffrey Lutz was raised around cars and racing, and has spent a lot of time at his dad’s side helping with everything from cleaning the car to checking the valves. Through steadfast observation and participation, he has learned a lot through the years, and showcases his knowledge daily, whether he’s working with his dad at Lutz Race Cars or performing as his crew chief, or building his own race car. Intrigued by his calm confidence and impressed by his dedication, we reached out to him for a few comments.
What is involved with your role as crew chief for you dad, whose Camaro recently posted a 6.13 at 244 mph?
Before each race, the rubber gets scrubbed off the car, we go over the engine to make sure it’s happy and then we load the trailer with everything we will need. Once we’re at the race, I do things like make sure the wheelie bars on the car are the same height, make sure things look good under the hood and under the car and make sure there are no oil leaks. Before dad makes a pass, I make sure his tires have the right amount of air pressure and I make sure he’s in the groove. I love being at the track with everyone and I love to help. I also love to see cars go over 200 mph.
We think your dad’s Camaro — which will be featured in the next issue of Fastest Street Car — is a looker. Do you agree?
Yes. It’s pristine. It’s a great car with a great chassis. It’s a fast car, but it normally goes pretty straight.
When his car brushed the wall at 230 mph when the chutes didn’t deploy at the Maryland race, it was not immediately clear how bad it was, but when I looked over at you and your mom on the starting line, you were both obviously concerned, yet calm. After that, your dad advanced to the final round and runnered-up.
I know that my dad is a phenomenal driver, and even though I didn’t know what had happened at that moment, I had it in my head that he was going to be ok, and he was.
Does having such an important role in your dad’s race program help you with your own race program?
Yes, it does. I follow in his footsteps and he teaches me just about everything he knows, including how to weld. I would love to race in his class, but I’m nowhere near ready for it yet. It takes a lot of experience and a lot of talent to figure all of that out and to drive one of those cars. I actually hope to have my ‘89 Civic hatchback, which has a small-block Chevy and twin 76mm turbos, done by February and the idea is to make it street-legal and run it in Hot Rod Drag Week. Hopefully it will run in the high sixes with the engine a good friend of ours, Mark Vinson, built for it. We pretty much cut the whole stock chassis out from under the car and used the body and made a chassis for it.
You traditionally take part in Hot Rod Drag Week with your dad and his other car, a seven-second ’57 Chevy. In what ways is that event similar to an NMCA race and in what ways does it differ?
For Hot Rod Drag Week, it’s just fun riding in the car with my dad and hanging out with everyone else. I’m actually entering a 2011 or 2012 Camaro this year. It belongs to a friend who owns a Chevy dealership and it has a 6.2 liter engine with a six-speed transmission. Both Hot Rod Drag Week and the NMCA events take a lot of energy and are a lot of fun. I love being involved with both.