Kyle LeDuc, a second-generation off-road racer who carved his own considerable niche in the sport, has passed away from cancer at the age of 42.
LeDuc was Pro4 Off-Road champion seven times and ProLite champ once, with 95 wins in Pro4 and 17 in Pro-Lite. He had a total of 112 lifetime wins in short-course off-road racing and even garnered one win in the all-electric Extreme E series driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.
LeDuc was the son of desert racing great Curt LeDuc, who himself had a 30-year career as an off-roader, including the Dakar Rally, King of the Hammers, Short Course, Best in the Desert and SCORE. So it was only natural that his son Kyle should carry the family name into his own generation of racing in the dirt.
In a Father’s Day note to his dad this year, Kyle said, “Happy Father’s Day to the dad that made all of this possible and introduced us to life with a helmet on! Working hard and playing hard can and will pay the bills and I thank him for the great days and even the horrible days in our 41-year relationship, haha. He’s a great grandfather to his grandkids and my wife and their family. He broke the ice for us in racing and fabrication but at the same time he shoved us in the ice-cold water and said, ‘Deal with it,’ and that I did. So I thank you for your teaching ways even though it may have not seemed that way at the time… You’re a legend and deservingly so. Have a good day poppa Curt.”
His dad replied, “I’m as proud as can be watching you flourish over the years. You took our sport to the next level. Enjoy your day with the family. See you soon.”
Kyle LeDuc started out mountain biking before switching to SCORE desert racing. One of his first competitions was the massive Baja 2000, a once-in-a-lifetime event to commemorate the year it was run with a nearly 2000-mile course from Tijuana to La Paz on the Baja peninsula. He won his class in that race. Soon after, he switched to short course off-road competition and dominated there, with a championship in Pro-Lite and those seven titles in Pro4.
He raced in the Lucas Off-Road Racing (LORRS), TORC (The Off-Road Championship) and even campaigned a truck in Robby Gordon’s Super Stadium Truck Series, those crazy contraptions you see flying high off of jumps in support of various IndyCar races.
In one of his last victories in the sport before his battle with cancer began, LeDuc posted a happy message on Instagram: “Started last and had clean passes all race long and brought home a solid win for the program. It’s been a tough road this season but the upgrades to the truck were massive and finally we’re able to focus on racing instead of surviving, and it showed, with fastest lap of the race and top of the box. Just need to thank everyone that sticks behind us when the days are tough and it never seems to go your way, you know who you are, and we appreciate it as we always work our ass off to stay on top. That’s Pro-4 win 93 and 110 career wins. Pretty cool.”
Autoweek got to spend some time with Kyle LeDuc when he was with Ganassi Racing shaking down the GMC Hummer EV-badged Extreme E truck in the desert of Northern Nevada. He seemed to be a very serious racer who wanted to do as well in that new-technology car as he had in so many other race trucks he’d driven. He went on to garner a win in the series.
Three weeks ago he posted what would be his last message on social media.
“Sat outside today and enjoyed the sun! Been a tough couple of weeks now that I’m done with treatments but we’re pushing through it!! All my joints are super sore, which is a side effect, and eating and all that stuff you have to fight to do, but I’m fighting!! @amber.leduc is literally saving my life each meal and minute that passes, as she also home schools the kids and cooks all the meals to keep her happy little family ticking by. Thank you, girl. Literally would be impossible without you and your dedication. Thank you, babe. Wish I could’ve gone to F1 this weekend with the fam, would’ve been fun! Next year.”
LeDuc is survived by his wife of 10 years, Amber, son Reedy, and daughter Addie.
As he said in a note to his wife last Valentine’s Day, “Savor the moments, it’s worth it. Memories are better than pictures. Love you girl, thank you for our beautiful babies and for taking care of me and getting us through this rodeo of life. Be mine! Because I’m yours.”