Toyota’s compact Corolla has never been thought of nor defined as a performance car, nor is it typically considered a “hip” automobile, but Southern California drag racer Santos Renovales has spent years doing his part to make one so, transforming a very short wheelbase, 1983 Corolla that was from wheel drive from the factory into an eight-second rocket that’s well known around the SoCal region. Unfortunately, his years of tireless devotion to the feisty Toyota came to an untimely end over the weekend when he lost control of the car at a Match Race Madness race at the eighth-mile Barona Dragstrip near San Diego, virtually destroying it in the crash that ensued.
Renovales was competing in Baronas’ popular match races series, the sixth such race of the season, when he lost control of his silver Corolla, powered by a potent straight-four Toyota 2RZ engine, just past the half track mark while racing against Dennis Roach. Renovates fought the car as it swung side-to-side through the shutdown area, but finally lost it and struck the wall nose-first.
Although hard to see through the dust and smoke from the initial impact, Renovates got turned around and hooked the Corolla, sending it barrel rolling violently into the opposing guardrail before coming to rest. Fortunately, the car did its job and Renovales walked way uninjured, although the same couldn’t be said for his killer race car, which was mangled from front to rear. The camera operator, Frank Renteria, captured the entire ordeal in real-time, huffing his way to the crash site with the camera still rolling, where he spoke briefly with Renovates and Roach about the entire ordeal mere seconds after the crash occurred.