National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock Motorcycle racer “Flyin’ Ryan” Oehler’s rookie season is quickly coming to a close—in fact, more quickly than ever as Oehler’s EBR made his personal best laps at the most recently completed event in Charlotte.
Now with two events left on the calendar, Oehler is closing out his drive for the Auto Club Road to the Future award—NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year—with the front wheel hiked high, the back tire gripping, and the EBR’s fairing slicing through the air.
Investing in next year already, Oehler took delivery of new EBR bodywork from the Lucas Oil Products Hector Arana team at Gateway. But going fast is not as simple as fastening down some new carbon and having the results magically appear on the scoreboard. The Dallas and Charlotte races found Flyin Ryan Racing having to persevere through adversity.
In fact, Oehler’s first EBR pass at Dallas was nearly disastrous. The taillight—yes, the NHRA body currently uses a real, stock EBR taillight until a carbon fiber replica is made—came off, went through the wheel tub, shattered the belly pan, broke some frame fasteners, and slit the rear tire sidewall!
“We had to find the pieces of the taillight out on the track and wrap it back together with electrical tape!” said Oehler. “I have one of the most advanced bodies out there with a red electrical tape taillight, and I love it!” They had to hastily fiber in tabs between rounds 1 and 2 in Dallas, and that is not how you want your substantial investment treated the first time out. “I nearly lost the whole thing right there!”
Everyone in motorcycle drag racing knows how attached one can get to a particular rear tire, and the slit one had been Oehler’s favorite. Unhappy after breaking in a new tire at Charlotte, Oehler actually repaired the damaged tire with super glue and found his best back-to-back 60 foots of the year.
“We ran our back-to-back low ETs of the year at Charlotte with a 6.87 at 196 mph and backed it up the next pass with a 6.88 at 196,” said Oehler. “It took nine passes with the new body to finally get a straight one, and even that .87 was all over the track. I’m going left, I’m going right, I’m almost clipping the wall, but I’m still running 6.87.”
And good enough to place in the top 6 in mph at Charlotte. “I know if I can get everything figured out, we could be a top 5 contender.
“We’ve worked as hard or harder than any team out here—even the veteran teams. That’s really the strongest thing about us, we just work so hard, and we’re already working on 2019. We’re planning out our Florida testing in January and what we hope to achieve over the winter.”
A prodigious social media poster, Oehler has thoroughly documented all-nighters at the shop and on the road as he, his father Brad, and crewman Alexander Tutt rebuild and dyno their motors, hustle up sponsorship, and put in thousands of miles of travel. It’s the life of a completely independent rookie rider and his one-bike, full-rookie family team.
The Flyin’ Ryan/B&K Racing Heads EBR is in line to be featured in the Liberty Gears booth at the enormous Performance Racing Industry (PRI) show at Indianapolis in December
Oehler is also working with youth organizations, Illinois State University, and the World of Soul motorcycle community in his hometown of Bloomington-Normal and the Joliet-Chicago area. “I’d like to show others how you can come from nothing like I did and achieve your dreams. In my instance, that’s racing in the NHRA Mello Yello series.” And quite possibly the leading Road to the Future candidate.
“It’s pretty amazing to think about how we got here.”
The task for today—raceday in Las Vegas—is to continue this weekend’s trend as the only rider to improve every single round, keep his cool, and advance from his 14thqualifying position past number 3 Hector Arana Sr.
Ryan Oehler thanks the Birch Family , Precision Plastic Products , Armstrong Air , Gas Jockey Graphics , the Birch Family , High Performance Lubricants , Fogler Signs , S&S , MRE , D&G Chassis , Rosati’s Pizza , Bates Leathers , Worldwide Bearings , AirTec, Inc., George and Jackie Bryce at Star Power , B&K Cylinder Heads and Flyin’ Ryan Racing , crewmen Alexander Tutt and Phil Leptich, and his family.
story, video and photos by Tim Hailey. Thanks to Alexander Tutt for the autograph session photo.