Table of Contents
A Relatable Journey in the World of Racing
Jeff Lutz is an incredibly relatable individual who hails from a small town outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unlike many other drivers, Jeff fully immersed himself in the world of racing later in life. At the age of 14, his father gave him a 1974 hatchback Nova, marking his first car. However, circumstances prevented him from ever driving it. Jeff moved out at a young age and soon after met his wife. Together, they purchased a house when he was just 18 years old and she was 17. Having children at an early age allowed Jeff to live the life he enjoys today. Despite the hardships he faced, he now has the opportunity to work on cars alongside his son, experiencing the pure joy it brings.
A Passion Ignited: The Start of a Racing Journey
Jeff developed a deep love for drag racing through watching it on television. When his older brother Rick, who had recently returned from the Marines, asked Jeff to join him in looking at a car, he didn’t hesitate. This car happened to be a powerful 1970 and a half split bumper Camaro with a 400 4-speed engine. Intrigued, Jeff took the opportunity to drive it. They brought it to the track the next day, and that moment marked Jeff’s very first time on a racetrack. In his family, Jeff is the first major car enthusiast. Although his father owned impressive cars throughout his life, he never worked on them. Jeff’s father even discouraged him, stating that he would never make money working and racing with cars. However, Jeff proved him wrong. Sadly, his father passed away in 2015, but not before witnessing Jeff’s impressive performance at the Norwalk races, where he was the runner-up against Jim Bell.
A Journey into the Car World
In 1988, Jeff purchased an IROC-Z for his wife, which she used for daily commuting. However, Jeff couldn’t resist making some upgrades. As he delved deeper into the car world, he decided he wanted to put big tires on it. With the help of Old man Miller, he achieved his goal. This experience solidified Jeff’s passion for working with cars. As time passed, he slowly began acquiring equipment for his own shop. Jeff took a leap of faith, transitioning from being a bricklayer and part of the bricklayers union to becoming a chassis welder. With sheer determination, he left his masonry tools behind after the housing market crashed and dedicated himself to his garage. This leap of faith paid off, as he now boasts a two-year waiting list of people eager to have him work on their cars. As Jeff often says, he is living his dream, getting to work on cars he loves with his family by his side. In terms of welding, Jeff is self-taught, having learned out of necessity. He built his own tools and equipment as he needed them. While working for Cody Mac Motorsports in Connecticut, Jeff taught himself how to tick weld on Dunkin Donuts trays he had to fix. He became so skilled at it that he eventually built his very own car trailer.
Street Outlaws: From Phone Call to Racing with the Best
Jeff’s involvement with Street Outlaws began with a simple phone call. After doing some work for the guys, he was invited to race alongside the best. Street racing is still a learning process for Jeff, and he owes a great deal of gratitude to Ryan Martin, Chief (Justin Shearer), and Shawn Ellington for showing him the ropes. Every day is a learning experience for Jeff. If given the choice between street racing and the strip, he would choose the strip without hesitation. Drag racing is where he began and what he’s accustomed to. Of all the drag racing events, no prep holds a special place in his heart. Jeff appreciates the controlled environment of the track, allowing him to focus on tweaking his car’s performance based on time slips. The street, on the other hand, presents challenges, as only 30% of the car’s horsepower is utilized. Drag week is a grueling and arduous task, but that doesn’t deter Jeff. In fact, he currently holds the world record for the fastest pass in the drag week category. Jeff currently owns the yellow 57 Chevy and Mad Max, the pro-mod, while his son Jeffery owns the original 57 and drives the Civic. Jeffery is also in the process of purchasing a 1986 IROC-Z, which he plans to transform into a tribute car for his father.
Unveiling Jeff’s Personal Side and Favorites
Not many people are aware that the original black 57 and the yellow 57 are different cars. The original 57 was supposed to be yellow, but its popularity among fans and drivers led to it being called “sinister,” prompting Jeff to keep it black. The current 57 sports iconic red headlights, which were not part of a specific plan. A friend of Jeff asked him to advertise their product, and he agreed. Although the LED headlights can be changed, their intimidating appearance is undeniably striking. Some of Jeff’s favorite drivers include Larry Dixon of NHRA, Ron Capps of NHRA, Clay Millican of IHRA, and Cory McClenathan of NHRA. Jeff was taken aback when he discovered that Cory had waited in line for two hours at a SEMA event just to get Jeff’s autograph. To this day, Jeff considers Cory and Clay to be some of his closest friends. Building race cars and doing what he loves most—racing—is the epitome of living the dream for Jeff. His passion and determination have brought him this far and will continue to drive him forward. Jeff’s favorite track event is the Orlando World Street Nationals. Initially participating in the Heavy Street category, he eventually moved up to pro-mod racing. During events, Jeff now finds joy in watching ordinary people take their daily drivers out on the track. The relatability between the drivers and the spectators keeps the public engaged and enthralled. Jeff cherishes his understanding family, and he is incredibly fortunate to have his wife in the shop and by his side during races. Working alongside his son is an invaluable gift. Even Jeff’s extended family members revel in his TV fame. His biggest fan is his grandma, who faithfully follows the show and has all their family members in Kentucky provide updates about him when he’s there. Jeff is also thrilled and grateful whenever he sees his yellow 57 featured in commercials and advertisements.
Beyond Racing: A Kind and Talented Individual
Apart from his iconic car, Jeff is also known for being a genuinely nice guy in the pits. He’s always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. It’s simply in his nature to find the good in everyone, sometimes even being too kind. His biggest challenge lies in keeping his car intact throughout the 12 races in a season. But Jeff thrives on the grind and the hustle. He expresses immense gratitude for companies like Summit, who understand the efforts of drivers like him and provide same-day delivery when necessary. Jeff is always prepared and eager to take on the next event, giving it his all. During rare moments of downtime, he relishes the tranquility of his lakeside property or enjoys playing the drums. Jeff learned how to play the drums from his father at a young age and occasionally indulges in this passion. Triumph’s “Lay It on the Line” is one of his favorite pieces to play. Once again, these personal aspects of his life remind fans that racing drivers are human too. If Jeff could leave behind a legacy, it would be that of having the world’s fastest 57 Chevy and the world’s fastest pro-mod. He firmly believes that his son, Jeffery, will continue the Lutz racecar lineage as he is a better welder than Jeff himself. With Jeffery’s skills and passion, Lutz racecars will carry on indefinitely. Jeff is an incredibly laid-back and friendly individual in person, but put him in a racecar, and he transforms into a formidable force. Make sure to stop by the pit and thank him for keeping the spirit of racing alive. He not only embodies the essence of racing but also exemplifies the camaraderie among drivers and the willingness to lend a helping hand, all while providing us with an unforgettable show.
Special thanks to Lou at 405 Photo for capturing these amazing shots.
Check out more of Lou’s work at 405 Photo.