Racer World Interview: Ryan Giles
From time to time we’ll be interviewing racers from all around the country and bringing their story to you. This week I had the opportunity to talk with Ryan Giles, a rising IMCA driver from Iowa.
Racer World: Give us the rundown on yourself, where are you from?
Ryan Giles: I’m 19 years old, grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa and I’m currently a sophomore at Iowa State University and studying mechanical engineering.
RW: How’d you get your start in racing?
RG: When I was six my dad purchased a go-kart from a family friend and I’d race in the winter dome of the Iowa State Fairgrounds. I drove karts until I was 12, then we sold out after both my brothers were injured in accidents. At 14 my brother and I convinced our parents to let my brother and I begin racing in the 360 modified class and share a car.
RW: Can you describe some of your early success and who helped along the way?
RG: Jim Anderson sold me my first go-kart, and Dick and Rick Gustin sold me the 360 modified and helped me with that. More recently, Darrel Defrance began helping as I stepped up into the A modified class. After two years racing in that class, he sold me one of his late models and we’ve worked together for the last three years.
Pat Fagen, owner of Axle Exchange, has been a big help to me since my start in 360 mods. Anything from a place to stay after a race, taking me to the track, ordering parts, crewing for me and supplying driveshafts, gears and transmissions, he’s always been there. Mike Bennett, an Axle Exchange employee who has years of modified racing experience, has spent countless hours at the shop and track helping me with my cars. I can’t thank the Pat, Mike and all the guys at the Axle Exchange enough for all their help over the last 5 years.
RW: How has your family been involved with your racing?
RG: My dad Scott, and older brother, Michael, Have been a huge part of my success. Both at the shop, on the road and at races, they’ve been there helping me get my career to where it is now.
With the business degree Michael received from college, he helps with the marketing side of things as well. He still helps with the car but it’s been nice to let him take care of promotional aspects.
RW: Have you moved up through a lot of classes?
RG: I was 14 at the time when I started racing B modifieds, and was Rookie of the Year at the Hamilton County (IA) Speedway in 2005. After two years in the B mod class, we bought a new Larry Shaw modified from Darrel DeFrance and I was Rookie of the Year at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Again, after two years of A mods, we bought DeFrance’s late model and was able to become the youngest driver to earn the IMCA National Rookie of the Year in 2009.
RW: What’s the toughest part about being a young driver? Any tips for others?
RG: Just trying to earn the respect of the “veteran” drivers. When I’m successful I feel as if I’m under a microscope and everyone is looking to catch any mistakes I make. I feel like I’m constantly having to prove myself, which only pushes me harder.
Young drivers need to make sure they’re really committed to the sport if they want to be successful. You can’t expect to start out and win all your races, if any at all. It takes time and can be very frustrating when you have a bad night. You have to be dedicated to it both at the track and back at the shop.
RW: It can be tough for a driver your age to find sponsors, any you’d like to mention?
RG: I’ve been really lucky to have such a great set of sponsors supporting me. Superflow Technologies Group manufactures high-performance engine and chassis dynos and flowbenches. They’ve provided me with access to testing facilities to keep on top of engine tuning for the car through the season.
Northland Motor Oils and lubricants supplies me with all the oils needed to keep the car running for a season and Willy’s Carburetor and Dyno shop provides dyno tuned carburetors and any other fuel system components.
Also, Ostrich Racing Engines keeps the engine program up to date with the latest advances on our motors. Fastshafts by Axle Exchange support me with the best driveshafts, gears, and transmissions. They’ve spent countless hours with me at the shop and track tuning my cars. I can’t thank them enough, along with the rest of my sponsors.
RW: Where can everyone find more information about you?
RG: Last winter we redesigned and launched a new website- www.ryangilesracing.com. There’s also a Facebook page for Superflow Performance Dynos and Flowbenches that is usually up to date with racing information and pictures and video clips.