Ryan Beat (All photos by Richard S. James)
Ryan Beat is the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series' marathon man. While several drivers tackle a couple of classes, such as Kyle LeDuc, Carl Renezeder and Rob MacCachren in Pro 4 and Pro 2 or Brian Deegan in Pro 2 and Pro Lite, Ryan Beat has, for the past several events, raced in all three truck classes.
It started when Josh Merrell stepped out of Premiere Motorsports Group's MAVTV/Lunarpages Ford Pro 4. Beat was already driving the Pro Lite and had some experience in the Pro 4 last year, so he was approached to drive the Pro 4 for the rest of the season. Then Rob Naughton left the team, leaving a vacancy in the Pro 2.
He replied: “Why not? Let's go for it, let's give it a try and see how it goes.”
So, how is it going, Ryan?
“It's crazy,” says the 27-year old Menifee, Calif., resident. “I can't begin to explain how crazy it is. From trying to stay on top of the setup for all three trucks and staying up with the grooving and all the stuff that goes on with the trucks, to tear-offs and cleaning helmets and getting fluids in me and eating…it's non-stop. When I come to the track it's four days of wide open. Monday or Tuesday, when I get home, I sleep for like two days.”
Going from truck to truck to truck means a lot of time without rest, usually twice a day with a schedule that most often includes two practice sessions on Friday and qualifying and race on Saturday and Sunday. And the trucks aren't the same – Beat may have to apply very different driving techniques as he moves from Pro 4 to Pro Lite to Pro 2 (top to bottom, LEFT).
“That's the biggest challenge to overcome, the difference in the trucks and how they work, how they react and how they drive,” he explains. “Each truck has a different style, and trying to go back and forth is very hard, because you've got to slow yourself down for a second and think about what you're doing.”
There's no doubt that Beat is getting a lot of seat time, but it begs the question of whether he's spreading himself a bit thin. Last year he finished second in the Pro Lite points with one win and three other podium finishes. In 2013, with 14 races run, he's 16th in the Pro Lite points and his only podium of the season so far is a third in Pro 4.
“If I were to focus on Pro Lite, I might have a little better results. But I'm not doing this for right now. I'm looking at five years down the road. Five years down the road, it'll be paying off. I'll have experience in all three classes and know how to drive all different types of trucks. Not only am I learning how to drive all different types of trucks, but each truck presents its own scenario of race cases throughout the race, and it teaches me how to manipulate and drive a truck differently throughout the race as track conditions change and things happen. It may not be paying off for me right now, but I'm banking it for the future for sure,” says Beat.
That leaves no doubt as to what Beat envisions himself doing for the near future. He has obviously embraced short course off road, the sport he adopted after injury derailed his motocross and supercross career. He loves driving all the trucks, but the latest addition may be becoming his favorite if he had to choose one.
“I'd probably pick the Pro 2,” he says. “I really like it and I'm just starting to get it down and get comfortable in it. It showed [in Round 13 at Las Vegas]; I got fourth and was able to run up front with MacCachren and Renezeder and all the best dudes in the world, the guys that have been doing this for as long as I've been alive. It's really exciting for me to be up there and get out there and show what I can do. I'm not just a Pro Lite kid. I've got multiple podiums in Pro 4. I've got multiple podiums in Pro Lite. Now I'm just banging on the door in Pro 2.”