ORX Interview: Ryan Beat – Short Course Off Road Racing Rising Star

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There are plenty of stars in the sport of off-road racing. Some are legends who have retired, such as Rod Hall, Ivan Stewart, Walker Evans, and Larry Ragland. Then there are others who are still competing, like Rob MacCachren, Brian Deegan, and Jeremy McGrath, to name just a few. There is also a herd of young professionals that have been making there mark in the sport during the last few years, and one of them is Ryan Beat.

Never heard of him? This may be the first time his name has crossed your mind if you are not a devoted off-road racing fan who religiously follows the sport. However, we think that you will probably hear his name much more often in the years to come. Beat has been kicking ass for the last few years in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS), and we offered you a brief profile of him in 2013, when he was competing in all three LOORRS truck classes.

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Beat bicycles his Pro Lite race truck getting past a competitor through one of the big sweepers on the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park track.

Since then, Beat has continued to run up front, and has scored some major victories in pivotal races. Beat has become that young wolf biting at the heels of the Alphas as the pack howls around the race track. We thought it was the perfect time to sit down with Beat for an interview, so we paid a visit to his shop in El Cajon, California.

I am chasing down MacCachren, this is the coolest feeling ever! – Ryan Beat during his first Challenge Cup race

Off Road Xtreme: Where did you get your start racing?

Ryan Beat: “When I was four years old I got my first motorcycle and started riding, and by my fifth birthday I was at my first race. So from the time I was five to 22 years old, I raced motorcycles, and eventually worked my way up into professional motocross and supercross.”

“The factory Kawasaki team had me performing testing and development. However, in 2010 I shattered my arm from basically my hand to my elbow in a riding accident. The doctor told me ‘you’re not going to be able to do this anymore’ My arm just won’t take the abuse, because it’s so full of metal.”

Aside from the Racepak gauge unit, the cockpit (sans seat) of Beat's Pro Lite race truck (left) seems spartan. A huge quad-fan CBR cooling system (right) covers the rear of the Pro Lite's cage.

ORX: How did that lead to what you’re doing today?

RB: “During the time I was healing, a family friend came to me and said, ‘We have an off-road race coming up, and it will be fun. It’s adult trophy cart racing, and a bunch of the pros are doing it. Why don’t you come check us out and see if it’s something you want to try just for fun.’ I was pretty bummed about my wrist, but the thought of the challenge really cheered me up.”

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A bird’s-eye view of Beat’s Pro Lite reveals the off-set position of the Mopar small-block and Turbo 400 transmission.

“So I did it and ended up getting third place among a bunch of really good guys like Carl Renezeder, Casie Currie, RJ Anderson, and Jeremy McGrath. That was eye-opening, and I thought maybe this is something I can do. With the help from Kenny Osborn and Black Rhino, we built a UTV. Right out of the gate I got a second place finish, and the next day I ended up winning.”

“After that I won 10 more races in the SR1 UTV class and decided, ‘All right, let’s build a Pro Lite truck and see how that goes.’ My first year in Pro Lite (2012), I ended up getting second place in the championship points chase, so from there it all just snowballed for me.”

ORX: You have your own shop for the truck program. How has that helped your efforts?

RB: “When I set out to create my own race team, I was faced with continuing to work out of the shop that my Dad built on his property years ago, or getting a new shop somewhere. That home shop is where we housed my motocross program. My Dad is the number one guy involved in my racing, he comes down every night after work, is totally involved in it, and loves being a part of it.”

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Beat displays his trophies, many of them from his motocross days, in the loft of his El Cajon shop.

“I chose to have the truck program here in the home shop, and grow with it as it builds up. It’s been a huge benefit to have it right here on the property instead of driving somewhere and paying rent. The convenience of having my Dad able to walk down and work on the truck with me makes a big difference.”

ORX: What are some of the greatest challenges and successes during your career so far that have stuck in your memory?

RB: “When you race in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series there are lots of ups and down, and I have seen quite a few in my career, but I have been blessed with good results. I guess my favorite story is my first of two Challenge Cup (Pro 4 and Pro 2 combined into one race) podiums. It is hard enough to end up on a podium during a Challenge Cup once, but to do it two years in a row has been the highlight of my career so far.”

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The Mopar V8 in Beat’s Pro Lite race truck cranks out approximately 500 horsepower.

“The best was in 2012. I was driving for a team whose Pro 4 driver couldn’t make the race, so I ended up driving that truck for the weekend. I remember getting on the track and thinking, ‘All right, well let’s just sort of shake this down, see how it goes, and have some fun driving this Pro 4.’ I started moving my way through the pack, and got pretty far up. I think I was up to fifth when I got spun out.”

“I ended up at the back, and had to start making my way forward again. I remember thinking at that point, ‘There is no way I am ever going to make it back up to where I was.’ However, trucks started breaking and I was getting into some pretty good battles. I had jumped in right behind Robby Woods and he and I just freight-trained our way through the pack.”

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Ease of maintenance is key in short course off road trucks, so all of the vital hydraulics and electronics can be quickly accessed with the body off the truck. A spec class, Pro Lite is limited to 12 inches of wheel travel in the front.

“I moved up and did a pretty sweet slide job on Renezeder. So then the next guy up the line was Rob MacCachren, and as I was charging after him, I was actually yelling in my helmet, ‘I am chasing MacCachren, this is the coolest feeling ever!’ I passed him, and then he passed me, and it turned into an epic battle between Renezeder, MacCachren, and me, for the one, two, and three spots during that Challenge Cup.”

“We went back and forth all the way to the checkered flag, but at the end of the day I wound up third. It was just unreal how cool it was to be battling it out with those guys all the way to the finish line for a Challenge Cup podium.”

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This side view of the truck’s rear end shows off the swing arm suspension design. The rear shocks are normally mounted where the straps are stretched (this photo was taken during our visit while the rebuild was in process) from the upper shock mount to the rear axle. The rear is limited to 14 inches of travel in the Pro Lite class.

ORX: We heard that you completely rebuilt your truck. What was done?

RB: “Going into 2015, this will be the second year of running our own team, so we set out during this off-season to go through the entire truck, replacing equipment, and going through every nut and bolt on it to make sure it’s sound, proven, and ready to go. In this sport, the biggest problems are failures that take people out of the hunt for a championship. We want to make sure we’re on our game.”

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Beat has already started on his new Pro 2 race truck. He plans to finish it and get in some testing this year, then run it in the 2016 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series season.

 

“There is a lot of good talent out there, and we are more or less in equal equipment. Pro Lite is a spec class based on a tubular chassis, 14 inches of wheel travel in the rear, 12 inches of wheel travel in the front, and a standard Turbo 400 transmission with a 500-hp Mopar crate motor. So if you’re not on top of keeping your truck solid and making sure that parts aren’t failing, it can break on you. We’re in the hunt for a championship.”

ORX: What are your goals for the future?

RB: “Our sights are set on being a consistent top five truck. We’ve done that for the past couple of years now, and we look forward to putting ourselves in that position again. I think if we’re in the top five spots at all times, we’ll have a good chance at a championship by the end of the year.”

The Pro 2 truck's (left) transmission adapter-mount had just been put in place when we visited Beat's shop. Suspension components and a new rearend (right) await assembly on the new Pro 2.

“Looking beyond that to the next two to four years, I see my team growing. I want to hire another driver at some point. I want to drive in Pro Lite and Pro 2, so I have started taking steps toward building a second Pro Lite and a new Pro 2 truck. Bringing on a second driver and growing my team is where I want this to go.”

“I look at the sport, the way it’s grown, and how there are teams with multiple drivers. At some point in my career, I would like to be a successful owner and driver. Tony Stewart is a big hero of mine because of what he’s been able to do in stock cars. I want to focus on building not only just my brand as a racer, but I want to build my team as well.”

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The same night Beat drove his truck to fifth place in Pro Lite during the 2015 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series opener, he piloted Brian Deegan’s #38 to a fourth place finish in Pro 2.

“It would really be something to have multiple trucks under the awning, and a big race shop. My goal is to have the most dominant and best-equipped truck team that has ever been. That’s what I look forward to doing. I’m going to chase my dream.”

Ryan Beat’s dream may not be all that far away from becoming a reality. If he continues to be successful and keeps his mind set on that goal, we think he has a darn good shot at it. His performance at the 2015 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series season opener held at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park on March 20 to 21, 2015 was a dramatic indicator.

Beat drove his Pro Lite truck in a furiously fought Round One race to a fifth place finishing position. The same night he scored in the Pro Lite top five, he jumped into Brian Deegan’s Pro 2 truck (Deegan was out sick) and brought the #38 truck in for a fourth place finishing position. That’s not too bad for the first race of the year.

Who would you like to see Off Road Xtreme interview next? Let us know in the Comments section below who your favorite off-road racer is.

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Beat flying high in his Pro Lite race truck during qualifying prior to his well-earned top five finish in the first event of the 2015 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series season.

About the author

Stuart Bourdon

A passion for anything automotive (especially off-road vehicles), camping, and photography led to a life exploring the mountains and deserts of the Southwest and Baja, and a career in automotive, outdoor, and RV journalism.
Read My Articles

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