Brian Deegan, many-time Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing champion, mega-multiple X Games medal winner, and complete athlete, sat down with us and talked openly about his life, work, home, and what he has been up to lately.
In the video above and the story below, he talks about his 2013 racing season, the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the past, and how he sees the future for Brian Deegan. Interestingly enough, Deegan told us some things we didn’t know. After this, you’ll know too.
Off Road Xtreme: When you were a kid, you spent lots of time riding bikes with your Dad at the motocross track, and have said those years are some of the best memories of your life. How does this influence you today?
Brian Deegan: “A lot of what I learned in my life comes from growing up at the track with my Dad and traveling the circuit. And now I am doing the same with my kids. It’s pretty cool.”
ORX: When you were 17 you came to the L. A. Coliseum as a virtual unknown and won the 125cc main, then “ghost rode” your bike across the finish line jump. How did that first major victory in front of thousands of people feel?
BD: “It was one of my big goals accomplished. I didn’t get a lot of financial support in those early years. A lot of years of practicing and hard work went into that day and it was a huge feeling of satisfaction. It just all came out when I won.”
ORX: It must be kind of cool around the “compound.” You’re racing on the weekends, then you’re there during the week with the family and kids. You’ve got all the bikes, cars and trucks. What’s that like?
BD: “When I try to explain to people our lifestyle, its all about racing, dirt bikes, cars or trucks. We really do live it all day every day.
Even on the weekends, we don’t really have many weekends off, but when we do, the kids are riding dirt bikes at the house, or my daughter is doing her kart racing.
Its always about the dirt, building tracks or building jumps. It’s just nonstop. If we’re not on tractors or water trucks, we’re in the race cars. That’s pretty much everyday. That’s our house. We have the race shop there, and three or four different tracks, so it’s full on, all the time.”
It just all came out when I won. – Brian Deegan
ORX: Tell us about your greatest victory lately. What has been the real sweet one?
BD: “This year has been tough because the races are getting harder. There’s more competition and guys are getting better. We had the dominant truck the last few years in the Lucas Series, but I think guys have caught up and it’s definitely harder to win. But we went out and really battled hard this year.
I’ve had quite a few wins in the Lucas Pro 2 and the Lucas Pro Light classes , but it’s those battles that always come down to where you think you’re out of it, and then at the last minute you make the passes and get through the pack and win. I’ve had a few of those this year and it really comes down to those particular moments.
Up at Reno (Wild West Motorsports Park), I was able to do that in Pro 2. I had a good race with Bryce Menzies and a few other guys, and we just had the best truck, that’s all. We were running a Roush Yates motor in our truck, probably one of the only guys that did, and it was just by far the fastest truck.
That was a cool moment because we were just pretty much untouchable the whole day. That’s when it’s cool, when everything goes right, that’s when you know it’s all worth it. All the time, money, all the mechanics, the crew, and then everything just works right and you dominate. As a team owner-racer, those are the coolest moments.
I personally like to see guys win … Brian Deegan
The thing is, I mean, I look at guys that have never won. There are guys that I race against every weekend, they’re at the track all the time and they have never won a race, and you just wonder how do they have the motivation to invest everything into something and never to be able to taste the victory?
I personally like to see guys win, because in the end if I’m the only one winning, then who am I going to race? I like everyone to feel it. In the end I want to win the championship and be the number one guy, but I think it’s cool sometimes to see guys win for the first time and enjoy the excitement of racing and what that does to people–that emotion.”
BD: “There’s been a few. Scares, I mean. I would say everything is about that big exciting rush that you have. I think freestyle motocross gave me it the most because you have that moment before you’re getting ready to drop in and do the trick at the X Games or whatever it was, and you’re thinking, ‘In the next 30 seconds I could be winning or I could be in the hospital.’
That’s the sport of freestyle. I’ve had those high moments of thinking, ‘Am I even going to make it?’ I did the first 360 at the L.A. Coliseum in ’03 and landed it. I was blown away and thought, ‘Oh man, I can’t believe I just landed that.’ Six months later, I did it at Winter X Games over a 100-foot ice jump. Didn’t make it, let go of the bike about four stories up and fell on ice.
I ended up breaking my hip and femur in five spots, both wrists, had internal bleeding. That was one of the scariest moments. That moment between when you eject and hit the ground, it’s probably just a second or two, but it feels like an eternity. That’s probably one of the scariest moments of competing, you know, but you block that out. As an athlete, you have to be able to block out those fears. I would say Freestyle is the one that gave me the most fear.
I also did a back flip when I was doing a TV show, Viva La Bam. I back flipped in the show and crashed and blew up my kidney and spleen. That was another moment when I was laying there thinking, ‘OK, wow, this is a near death experience.’
Car racing has been more about the fear of losing, I would say, with all the pressure from the sponsors and TV. I don’t line up at X Games now in a rally car thinking, ‘today I’m going to break my legs.’ It’s totally different”
ORX: Right, well, you have a cage around you.
BD: “Exactly right, I mean you can catch on fire. I caught on fire a month ago in Vegas. My transmission blew up and I had an oil fire in the cabin, but I was pretty calm. I pulled over and got out of the truck pretty quickly, and luckily it didn’t engulf the whole cabin in flames. But that’s the fear of car and truck racing–fire.”
ORX: You’re involved in a lot of sports. What other sports do you really like, what else are you into?
BD: “Anything with a motor, I’ll watch it on TV. Anything with a ball, I don’t really watch. I grew up in Nebraska, so I did watch some college football, Cornhuskers. I was into it for a while, but once I moved from Nebraska it was anything to do with a motor.
I’ve always been into sports and athletics, every since day-one I’ve been a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts and UFC. I’ve always been a fan of that, and I would say if anything, that’s the other sport that’s intriguing to me because it’s such a brutal and intense battle, so that’s why I enjoy that. Other than that I don’t really watch much other stuff.”
BD: “No, not really. I watch Duck Dynasty once in a while because I can Tivo it. So when I have a chance, I’ll watch it because I think that show is good. There are certain things I do watch, but not a lot of TV.
I like hunting and fishing. I just went fishing in Cabo and caught a nine-foot Marlin. That’s cool to me, but other than that, I don’t really have time.
I’m happy being at the racetrack. I’ll be there the rest of my life. My kids will race, and their kids.”
ORX: How many weeks are you on the road?
Part of that deal was that they would fund the truck and field it, if I drove it for three or four out of the 12 or so shows that it goes to. So they flew me to the town where Ryan Anderson and the guys that run Gravedigger do all of training and practice to teach me how to drive monster trucks.
I got in the truck and they showed me how to start it, stop it and hit these little jumps, and they put me right into the show. So I go right into the show and look at the jumps and I thought, ‘Oh my God, they’re so gnarly.’ And then Ryan Anderson and the guys would try to coach me and tell me, ‘You want to hit this wide open and you’ll land over there.’ And I’m thinking, ‘What?’, that’s crazy.
There’s a triple bus stack and I hit it wide open. Whoa! Yeah, that was pretty intense. As a guy into racing, motors and machines, I liked it and thought it was pretty cool.
So between my racing, and now my son is doing motocross, and I try to take him to the Motocross track or to his amateur nationals. And my daughter, luckily she races where I race, so that’s easy. But it’s travel almost every weekend now.”
ORX: So what’s next?
BD: “I feel like I’ve accomplished all my goals in racing. I’m happy with what I’ve done. If I was to stop today and focus on my kids, I could live with that. One thing I would still like to do is race NASCAR, race Nationwide, just to do it.
I feel like that’s the pinnacle of American racing. If you can make it there legitimately, then you’ve made it to the top of racing. In my head that’s the final check off, to at least race some Nationwide.
But you know, every day that dream gets further away because my kids are growing and everything is going on. Roush offered me a deal, so I went in and talked to the guys at the team, but it’s just so expensive.
They said they would help me, but I have to bring in a certain amount of sponsor money. It’s just so expensive that it doesn’t even make sense. It’s just too much money. So if an opportunity comes up, I might want to do it, but if not, I’m good.”
Brian Deegan is good with being a championship off-road racer, mega-multiple-time X Games medal winner, ultra-competitive family man with competitive kids, and sports star in his own right. How do you feel about that? Let us know, be sure to check out the Gallery of photos below, and stay tuned for the next Off Road Xtreme Interview!
Featurette: Brian Deegan’s Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series Pro 2 Truck
One thing I would still like to do is race NASCAR … – Brian Deegan
We also got an inside look at Deegan’s LOORRS Pro 2 race truck. The two-wheel drive race truck is something to behold. The Ford V8 was built by Roush Yates Engines, uses a single carb, an MSD ignition system, Gibson exhaust, and puts out somewhere near 900 HP. That power is channeled through a three-speed automatic transmission to a driveline from Arizona Driveshaft that carries it down to a Ford 9-inch style rear axle built by Currie Enterprises.
The chassis is a complete custom racing setup built to LOORRS Pro 2 Class specs with a 122-inch maximum wheelbase, 93-inch maximum wheel track, and a 3,750-pound minimum weight (including driver). The driver is secured by a Mastercraft racing seat and harness. AiM gauges help him keep track of engine and transmission vitals.
The independent A-arm front style and cantilever-arm with triangulated-trailing-arm solid axle rear suspensions feature FOX racing bypass reservoir shocks and Eibach springs, and offer 18 inches of travel in front and 20 inches of travel in the rear. A set of Mickey Thompson 35×12.50R17 tires are wrapped around Pro Comp custom wheels mounted to all four corners of the truck.