For the first time in his career, Ryan Oehler is in contention for the Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle championship and he’s determined to do everything possible to make that a reality. That mentality helps explain why Oeher and his crew would load their spare bike into the back of a pick up truck on Saturday night and make a 220 mile round trip drive to Orlando Speed World Dragway just to break in a couple of Mickey Thompson tires. Oehler and his crew left Gainesville Raceway about 7:30 p.m. and arrived in Orlando after 10. As luck would have it, the track was hosting bike night, and Oehler arrived with enough time to make three burnouts and launches.
“I knew that I needed to break in some tires, not just for this race but we’re going to need them in St. Louis next week so this had to be done at some point,” said Oehler. “We had a lot of people tell us to just go find a deserted road here in Gainesville but that’s not safe and we really need a sticky track to get the tire to work properly. Typcially, my rear tire goes away after 35 runs and the one we were using this week had 37 so it was time to go.
“When I’m home, I’ll take two tires and put them on the back of my Camaro and break both of them in at the same time but we didn’t have that option here.”
Oehler admitted that he wasn’t sure if his late-night tire test potentially violated any NHRA regulations, which it does not. Just to be sure, he decided to bring his spare bike, which was not entered in the event. He also left his truck and trailer behind, loading the bike into a borrowed pick up for the nearly three hour drive.
“As soon as we got there, people we’re looking at us like, ‘Who’s this guy with the Pro Stock Bike in the back of a pick-up truck?’, Oehler said. “We had one guy who wanted to grudge race us for $1,000. It was crazy. The funny thing is I only brought enough race gas to make about three runs. We only had what was in the tank so I just did three burnouts and made three launches but we did what we wanted to do and learned a few things so it was worth it.’
Oeher returned to Gainesville at about 3 a.m. which meant that he didn’t get much sleep, especially with the start time moved up an hour from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m. due to the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms.
“Honestly, it wasn’t that bad; I still got a few hours sleep,” Oehler said. “One of the things I’ve learned out here is you’ve got to trust your gut and I knew that I needed a fresh tire to have a chance today. I’ve made the mistake before of not going with my instincts, and I need to learn from it. If you want to win out here you’ve got to put in the work and put your best foot forward, no matter what. No excuses. Actually, it was a lot of fun. I’d never been to that track before and it was kind of cool.”