Ryan Oehler set career bests in both speed and elapsed time to start the 2019 season, but the Illinois-based Pro Stock Motorcycle rider is already looking ahead to what his small team can do this year. He nearly broke the 200-mph barrier on his EBR-bodied machine, which boasts power from engines he and his dad, Brad, build themselves.
That makes what he and co-crew chief Alex Tutt do at every race all the more impressive. They huddle around their bright orange machine with a pair of crew members, checking valves before bringing it to life. It roars, breaking the still desert air – until an F-16 briefly drowns it out – and satisfying Tutt and Oehler.
“Sounds good,” says Tutt. “We put in a lot of work this winter, but it feels like even more these past two weeks. Brad probably put in 100-man hours to get these engines back and healthy again after we blew the damn things up in Gainesville. And that’s after a good weekend.”
That’s life in any form of racing, and if you’re reading this you already know it’s tougher for a small race team. But this is a sign of progress for Tutt, Oehler and the Flyin’ Ryan race team for one reason – Brad isn’t on the road this weekend. He gets to, not has to, stay at the shop and continue developing the engine program.
“We wanted him to be able to stay home when he can, so he’s not worn out by the end of the season,” said Tutt. “When he comes out, it’s because he can or needs to, but the ability for him to stay home is huge for us.”
And it’s already shown out in the one Pro Stock Motorcycle race run this year. He’s in sixth place with 54 points, indicating a first-round win. That’s a solid start and now the team turns to chasing a good desert tune-up. The thin air and [relatively] high elevation present a totally different challenge from what faced them in Gainesville, and the team didn’t run well at its only showing in Las Vegas a year ago.
“We annihilated the tire in the first round after qualifying No. 14,” recited Tutt. Racers never forget. “That was with our old clutch program and I just think this new one is so much easier to work with. I’m comfortable with it, Ryan is comfortable with it and I think we’re going to do well.”