Since the inception of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series all the way back in 2009, Rob Klepper has been a constant presence in front of the camera. For 12 seasons, Klepper has lent his talents to the world’s premier short course off road championship, first serving as pit reporter before transitioning into his current role as network analyst for the broadcasts on CBS, CBS Sports Network, and MAVTV.
A native of Caruthers, California, a career in motorsports wasn’t necessarily in the cards for Klepper. The son of a rancher in the state’s bountiful central region, Klepper could have gone into the family business growing grapes, cotton, alfalfa, and almonds. However, Rob’s father encouraged both of his sons to look into other endeavors. After spending his youth as one of the greatest junior skeet shooters of all time with nine world titles, Klepper enrolled in broadcasting at Arizona State University. Intrigued by the world of radio, Klepper assumed he would start a career on the local beat, as a radio disc jockey or a television reporter. However, when a time of need arose within the family, Rob chose to provide some much-needed assistance to his brother, Clay, and his fledgling career in sprint car racing.
Klepper served as his brother’s crew chief for many years, relocating to Indiana in the heart of sprint car country, where the sibling duo achieved considerable success on both dirt and paved ovals. In 2002, purely by happenstance, Klepper stumbled onto the career path he currently enjoys today. As the story goes, a local track in Visalia, California, needed an emergency public address announcer when its full time one failed to show up. Rob was volunteered for the job by his father and did such a good job that he fulfilled that role for the rest of the year. He carried on to occupy the same role at a track in Hanford, California. From there, Klepper became the first traveling announcer for the All Star Circuit of Champions, a winged sprint car series now owned by NASCAR and IndyCar legend Tony Stewart. He then teamed up with the United States Auto Club (USAC) to become its first traveling announcer, which eventually led to a connection with Lucas Oil.
Klepper found himself at the right place, at the right time in the early stages of Lucas Oil Production Studios and was appointed by now retired Lucas Oil Executive Vice-President and MAVTV President, Bob Patison, to serve as pit reporter not just for USAC, but also the diverse range of racing disciplines Lucas Oil was involved with. In 2009, Klepper was tasked with pit reporting for the inaugural season of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, a sport which he knew very little about. Aside from being familiar with names like Kyle LeDuc, Carl Renezeder, and Rob MacCachren, Klepper didn’t know the first thing about short course off road. However, he discovered several acquaintances from his oval track days and quickly learned that the close knit nature of the racing paddock was an unlimited resource for him to learn everything there was to know about the sport.
Klepper has always prided himself on doing his homework and being as prepared as possible, which proved to be the deciding factor in his ability to quickly adapt to short course. Despite his unfamiliarity with the discipline initially, he was able to lean on his experience and knowledge, both from a mechanical and competitive standpoint, to engage with the drivers and their crew members. While it took some time to learn all the nuances, Klepper was immediately successful in his ability to convey the information to the fans and soon found his way into the TV booth. Now, 12 years later, he’s a fixture of the broadcast team.
“I have no idea how many shows I’ve done in my career, but I have a lifetime of memories to pull from. In a lot of ways this job is like living the dream, because it’s a pretty cool thing that we get to do. Even though this wasn’t a career I ever envisioned for myself when I was younger, I’m so grateful for the journey and all the opportunities Lucas Oil has provided me.”
With the 2020 season coming up fast, Klepper is ready to fire up the engines and return to the track.
“Just getting back to it is going to be great. I can’t wait to see what everyone’s got for 2020, especially given some of the moves that happened during the offseason. Short course racing is intense, and it’s a balance of controlled chaos whenever they’re out there. The drivers are truly talented at what they do, and when you also consider how many of them are constantly pushing the limits of performance and finding ways to innovate, it adds another layer of excitement that I enjoy sharing with the viewers at home.”