Randy Renfrow was known for his ability to be competitive on any type of machinery, from diminutive 250 Grand Prix bikes all the way up to AMA Superbikes, and he excelled in nearly every class of professional motorcycle road racing. Renfrow raced professionally more than 20 years, seven of which were self-sponsored.
He was one of the best-liked riders in the paddock. In all, Renfrow won a total of 17 AMA Nationals in four different classes, including a victory in an AMA Superbike race at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California in 1990, as a member of the factory Honda team.
Renfrow grew up in his early years in San Diego, and on his ninth birthday, he got his first minibike.
“Our dad was in the Marine Corps,” remembers Randy’s brother, Shawn. “He always had scooters as young man. Motorcycling was a big thing when we lived in San Diego, and my dad bought Randy a Briggs & Stratton minibike.”
A Sears 90cc followed. When he relocated to New Jersey with his family, he started riding motocross, and quickly stood out. “Randy was always the fastest kid in the neighborhood, no matter what he was riding,” Shawn says.
By 1981, Renfrow was roadracing, and he earned his first AMA national points with a fifth-place finish at Pocono in the 250 Grand Prix class, then finished third in the 250GP final at Daytona. He began riding with Sure-Fire in 1983.
Shawn credits his brother’s success on a wide variety of machinery to his early riding on varied surfaces.
“I think some of it was because we were military and moved a lot, so he rode a lot of different types of terrain,” he says. “And I’m going to give Randy special props that some of that was just heart. I don’t think it mattered to him what he was racing. He just wanted to do well.”
A consistent winner and finisher, Renfrow finished third in AMA Formula 1 in 1984; second in Formula 1 in 1985; won the Formula 1 Championship in 1986; won the Memphis and Road Atlanta AMA 250 GP races in 1987; and finished fifth in AMA Superbike in 1988. After nearly retiring at the end of 1988, Renfrow came back to win the AMA Pro Twins Series in 1989. He won a Superbike national in 1990 and earned three 600 SuperSport podium finishes. He continued racing and finishing well in various classes through 2000.
In March of 2002, Renfrow was caught in a crash at Daytona International Speedway and broke nine ribs, his right knee, his right ankle and foot. Tragically, five months later, while still on crutches, Renfrow fell down a flight of stairs and suffered head injuries from which he would never recover.
As much as Renfrow is remembered for winning, he was also widely considered one of the most popular racers in the paddock.
“He’d always be happy to take time for a fan, or to share race setups with others,” Shawn says. “Some riders would wind themselves up, but not Randy. He’d say, “That’s not how we play that game. We play to win, but we don’t have to hate anyone to play the game.’”
That attitude kept him down-to-earth, he says.
“Randy was always kind of shocked that people would ask for his autograph, because he never really acted like a great racer—he was really humble about his position,” Shawn says. “That’s why I think he’d be really humbled about being inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He’d be really honored to think that the Kenny Robertses of the world thought enough of him to share a place with him by voting him in.”