Corona, CA (July 20, 2018) – When it comes to people who've come from nothing and made it to the top of their chosen endeavors, it's hard to find a more fitting example than Brian Deegan. After moving to southern California from his native Nebraska with virtually no money to his name to chase his dream of becoming a motocross racer, Deegan made that dream a reality and more, before a horrific crash in 2005 ended his competitive 2-wheel career. Three years later, and already a highly accomplished motocross racer and freestyle rider, Deegan decided to dip his toe into the waters of short course off-road racing, and was bitten by the four-wheel bug. Deegan dove in head first, and after select appearances in the former CORR series in 2008, Deegan's first full season was 2009, the first year for Lucas Oil Off Road, and he became Pro Lite Champion in his rookie season. In 2011, Deegan achieved the same feat a second time, this time in Pro 2, and has gone on to win six championship titles (three apiece in Pro 2 and Pro Lite), and is widely regarded as one of the most talented, savvy drivers in the history of the sport. This week, we had the chance to catch up with "The General" of the Metal Mulisha, to get his take on short course off-road, his career, his kids, his future, and more.
Q1: How did you get started in short course?
A1: I started racing short course in 2009- that was my first full season. I had been doing motocross, and it seemed like a good transition. It seemed safe, with the roll cage and everything, and it was the same style of racing.
Q2: When did you first move into the Pro ranks?
A2: Deegan started in Pro Lite, so this question seemed a little redundant.
Q3: When was your first Pro win?
A3: In 2009, at Lake Elsinore.
Q4: What are some of your significant career achievements so far?
A4: Winning six championships, and winning the Pro Lite title as a rookie, and the Pro 2 title as a rookie. I also raced Pro Lite, Pro 2, and Pro 4, and got on the podium in all three classes in the same day- just stuff that I look at and am pretty sure that nobody else has ever done.
Q5: How did last season go for you?
A5: Not so great. There were just a lot of ups and downs. We were transitioning to a new tire, and that set us back. We think we just got a bad batch of tires, and we ended up making a whole new mold and a new tire, and we also had more power than ever, so we were fighting that. But this year we've got that (the tire situation) figured out, so that's something.
Q6: What does your race schedule look like for 2018?
A6: I'm just racing the rest of the Lucas series, and also focusing on my kids' racing, and I'm doing a lot of videos. I'm doing a video for Monster with my daughter (Hailie Deegan), and trying to build my YouTube base.
Q7: What are your goals for 2018?
A7: Basically just trying to win races. There's been lots of ups and downs this season, but that's just part of racing. I decided to cut back on how much I was spending to go racing, and when you're not spending the money, your results aren't always great. I spend what the sponsors give me. I wish the sport would crank down the rules and make things more spec and cost effective. I think DOT tires would be a good move, and smaller engines too, so that more people could come in and compete.
Q8: What are your longer-term goals for your career?
A8: Probably to just keep racing off-road and selling my Deegan 38 products. I will keep racing to help sell my products, and I will also probably spend a lot of time at NASCAR tracks supporting my daughter.
Q9: Was it difficult to turn racing into a career?
A9: Yeah, I've always raced and done X Games. You just have to turn it into a form of entertainment, and sell products to make a living. I try to be creative with it, and I've done a lot of events and learned a lot. You constantly have to re-invent yourself.
Q10: Who do you look up to in this sport?
A10: I study guys and have respect for certain guys like Carl (Renezeder) and Rob (MacCachren). I try to emulate what they do, and learn how to go fast. I respect Rob because he didn't come from money, and doesn't have a rich dad funding him.
Q11: What have you sacrificed to get to where you are?
A11: I would say... probably not too much. This is what I wanna be doing; if I didn't wanna do it, I'd be somewhere else, so I don't really feel like I've sacrificed anything.
Q12: What's your favorite track?
A12: Missouri. I'd say that track has put us in a position to win almost every time. With that more technical section, the best drivers seem to rise to the top.
Q13: What's your favorite memory from racing?
A13: Winning the Pro Lite and Pro 2 championships in the same year, and when Hailie won the Mod Kart championship, and her Junior 2 championship.
Q14: Who's your best friend in the sport?
A14: Hailie- she's the one I spend the most time with. I respect some drivers more than others, but I try to keep my circle small; I don't really have any friends in the sport.
Q15: Why do you like short course?
A15: Because it's a good battle, the racing is really tight, it goes quick, there's lots of jumps like motocross, and it's intense the whole time- a lot transitions over from motocross.
Q16: Why should fans root for you?
A16: I'd say because I came from nothing (laughs), and made it this far from going for it and taking risks.
Q17: What's your most embarrassing moment in racing?
A17: That's a tough one. Maybe when I rolled in Utah- I've only rolled twice in my whole short course career, so yeah, probably when I rolled in Utah.
Q18: If you could race anything else in the world of motorsports, what would it be?
A18: It would be F1, just to see that level of racing. I had a NASCAR ride, but the sponsor backed out at the last minute, so that never happened. It's interesting that we're gonna get back there, but just with Hailie instead of me.
Q19: What do you do to prepare yourself for competition?
A19: I study books, videos, the psychology of sports, how people win and why. It's a mental game, and you can't replace experience. When I decided to win championships, I went all-in. I watched so much video. I bought a junky Pro Lite and put in hundreds of laps. I went to the gym a couple days a week, I rode motocross a couple days a week. I took a motocross technique and brought it to short course. Now, my days are filled with my kids' racing and my business.
Here, Deegan took a few minutes to expound on some additional thoughts he has about our sport, and we felt it was important to include them here:
"The best thing Lucas has is its kart program. Someday, we're gonna have a driver who can break tons of NASCAR records: my daughter Hailie, and it's because she can drive a loose racecar, which she learned driving karts in Lucas Oil- she always gives credit back to her time racing karts and trucks in short course."
"Also, I feel like drivers can take a bigger part in the branding of this sport, and in bringing outsiders in. It's not hard to build a 2-seat truck; I gave a ride to Tanner Foust in mine last week, and he said he'd never had that much fun going up and over those jumps. Now a bunch more guys are asking to take a ride, and I think that's a way we can get more guys involved in the sport- it's not hard to give rides to guys."
Q20: Who would you say most helped shape you into the person you are today?
A20: Overall, I would say God. When I almost died in 2005 in a motocross crash, and I lost my spleen and my kidney, that was the moment when I prayed and made a pact with God. That's been the most solid foundation to turn to for wisdom in life, and when I see them doing a prayer before NASCAR races, I think it's great- it's the best thing for a sinner like me. Besides that, my kids, my family, my dad, my mom- they're all influential in their own way.
Also, just as a side note, Deegan put out a documentary with Monster on ABC this year that tells his whole story, and it got a lot of attention on YouTube. Right now, there's a long form that's being edited, and it will probably be out in October or November. Both versions of the documentary are called Blood Line: The Brian Deegan Story, and the full version will be available for purchase through iTunes and other avenues, so be sure to check out this highly acclaimed film when it becomes available- Deegan's is a story well worth watching.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long-standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the midwest tradition of short course off-road racing infused with a west coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door-to-door action to challenging, fan-friendly tracks. Our events can be seen on CBS, CBS Sports Network, MAVTV, and Live all season long on LucasOilRacing.TV. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course! For more information, please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter in our Newsletter Signup section of the home page.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series