Ryan Beat is a racer at heart. The former professional motocrosser knows first hand what kind of mental fortitude it takes to compete at the highest level of motorsports, so after a serious injury ended his two-wheeled career prematurely, Beat didn’t give up on his racing dreams and instead turned his focus to four wheels.
While his journey to become champion took longer than expected, Beat broke through to hoist the trophy in 2018 after years of knocking on the door. With a target on his back and the added weight of the No. 1 on the side of his truck, the 32 year old stormed into 2019 with the confidence of the champion that he is. He kicked off his title defense with a victory, and it set the tone for an exceptionally consistent season that allowed him to withstand heavy challenges from both Mickey Thomas and Brock Heger. Beat’s unparalleled Pro Lite experience no doubt played a critical role in his ability to secure back-to-back championships, which further solidified his distinction as one of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series’ all-time greats.
Talk about your 2019 season. How challenging was it to defend your title in such a deep and competitive division?
To defend that title was more work than it was to win the first one. It’s twice the pressure, and at that point you have everybody gunning for you [and] everybody taking their cheap shots. Everybody is always wanting to prove that they’re better than the best, so you get every racer out there taking every cheap shot they can take at you, on the track and off the track. It was intense, for sure.
Both Mickey Thomas and Brock Heger gave you quite a run throughout the season, and both even ended up with more wins than you. Your consistency proved to be the difference maker as you finished outside the top 5 just once. Did their speed and success force you to dig even deeper in order to pull out this championship?
Oh, absolutely. We really had to dig deep after Mexico. So many issues that we were internally having in Mexico with some of our parts and manufacturer stuff that was being sent to us, we had to really dig deep and reinvent my whole program essentially after that. We had to dig deep the rest of the season. We had to test a lot. We raced the whole east coast series as well, so it gave us a chance to really reinvent our program throughout the year to keep up and catch back up with those couple guys that were winning races.
As the most experienced driver in Pro Lite, do you believe that the thousands of laps that you’ve completed over the course of your Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series career gives you advantage, especially when things get tight like they did in 2019?
Yeah, absolutely. The more experience you can have, the better. But, I also look at the fact that a lot of these guys have been racing Trophy Karts and actually have more years under their belt racing off road than I do. I came from supercross and I’m only [short course] for nine seasons. Some of these kids have been racing 12 to 14 years in off road, so realistically when you look at it that way, they have more experience than I do in racing off road. I’m just a better racer because I’ve raced my whole life. I have more racing experience, maybe not in off road, but more racing experience, and more racing experience at the top level. I was a professional motocross and supercross racer for some time, so being in those scenarios and in those instances where you’ve got to make decisions of how you want stuff to play out is very important. I believe it’s very pivotal as to why I’ve had the success I have.
You’re preparing to make the leap into Pro 2 next season. What are your expectations and how do you think all your years of Pro Lite experience will help in making the transition?
I won’t be personally racing Pro Lite anymore, as I’ve moved on, but I will be racing Pro 2 and fielding a Pro Lite truck. As for the transition I can only say this, you look at Jerett Brooks, he’s a two-time Pro Lite Champion and he went right into Pro 2 and won immediately. You look at RJ Anderson, a two-time Pro Lite Champion who went right into Pro 2 and did well right away. So, for me and my expectations of what I expect from myself and my team, I don’t expect anything less. I expect us to go into Pro 2 and be very competitive. I’m not saying we’re going to go light the world on fire or dominate, or anything, but I am saying I fully 100 percent believe that we’ll be very, very competitive and be right there with the front-running guys.
Racing has always been a family affair for you, dating back to your motocross days. Your dad remains an integral part of your team, your sister has been able to make a name for herself in the broadcast world, and now you have a family of your own. How has this communal passion influenced the success you’ve achieved?
Man, I don’t know if it’s a passion or a disease [laughs]. It’s definitely kept our family together. To be honest with you, the racing thing for me and my family is what drives us. It gets us up every day and keeps us motivated to go after our dreams and goals, and the things we want out of life. I am thankful for the opportunity that I get to call this a job. I know my sister is, too, and I know my parents are both very proud of me and my sister, and what we’ve both accomplished in our careers, doing what we love. It’s not a job that we go to every day and think this sucks, or wish we could be doing something else. I know my sister and myself both wake up and are very thankful every day to get to do something that we love.
Who would you like to thank for contributing to all your success in Pro Lite?
There’s just so many people that have really stuck behind me and had my back. First and foremost, General Tire. They’ve been with me the longest, since day one, so big shout out to General Tire. Bilstein shock absorbers for coming on board and really supporting our program the way that we need it to, and the way we needed to win championships. Vision Wheels for stepping up big for this upcoming 2020 season. There’s just so many people - Steel It, Competitive Metals have been there for so long with us. I can’t thank those guys enough. It’s awesome to have sponsors and partners involved that believe in me, and not only believe in me, but also help me reach my goals. They strive every day to work just as hard as I do to give me the parts I need to go out and win.
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