Interview: ATV & SxS Champion Beau Baron
Winning a pro-class national championship is an accomplishment that hundreds have tried but few have actually done. Winning back-to-back championships puts a racer into an elite class of athletes and proves they are a force to be reckoned with. Then thereís Beau Baron, who managed to do all of those things and take it a step further. Baron managed to win back-to-back Pro ATV titles this year while also earning a championship in another discipline.
Beau Baronís journey to the top of the Pro class at the World Offroad Championship Series was unique to say the least. In a short six years, Baron has developed a reputation as a competitive and dominating racer, regardless of what vehicle he happens to be driving.
Coming off of the his Pro ATV championship in 2012, the second of his career, Baron was looking to repeat his success in the Pro ATV class while contending for a championship in the increasingly popular Pro Production side-by-side class for 2013. Baron had dabbled in UTV racing previously, but after a third place finish in 2012 he decided to up his UTV program and tackle the full season. The investment clearly paid off, as Baron managed to claim both Pro class championships in 2013.
While Baron won all but two ATV overalls this season, the side-by-side championship came right down to the wire. To make matters worse, a practice mishap just a week prior to the final round left Baron with a broken collarbone. Despite having dominated the first two rounds, several mechanical issues and one DNF allowed 2012 champ Ryan Piplic to close the gap, making for a serious showdown at the season finale in Primm, Nevada.
True to form, Baron managed to come out on top. We recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about his career, his season and a little about what it takes to put together a championship-winning program Ė well, actually two of them.
First of all, congrats on your championships, but what happened right before the last round? Evidently you had a pretty bad get off.
I was riding my dirt bike and I donít know exactly what happened, and nobody saw it, but it looked like I washed out the front wheel and it caught and then I high sided or something like that. I broke my collarbone and knocked myself out pretty good. I was out pretty bad and had a bit of memory loss for a little bit.
What was your initial thought knowing you had two championships to wrap up?
I was stressed out. As soon as I figured out I ride a quad for a living I was stressed out about it (laughing). My initial concern was to go to a specialist and figure out what was going on. I called Timmy (WORCS promoter Tim Shelman) right away and tried to get the points situation squared away and tried to figure out what place I had to get and everything as soon as I possibly could. Once I got it figured out I relaxed a little bit because all I needed to do was start in the ATV race, just go to the starting line and make the start. Then in the UTV I had to get 9th or better. I knew I could probably do the UTV if I absolutely had to and I did so it was fine.
Wow, thatís crazy. What a way to end a season. So backing up a bit, how did you get into riding/racing?
When I was really little my dad took me on my uncleís three-wheeler for a little ride. We went down the road a couple times and like, right then, I think I was like three or so, I was like, I want one of these, I want to figure out how to do this. So ever since then I wanted to ride and I took off at a really early age riding quads, and I got to a point where I was beating on the little quad pretty good and we ended up getting a dirt bike and I started doing the dirt bike thing. As I got a little bit older I had just started racing and I told my dad that I thought Iíd rather race a quad and he said they were too dangerous. So we just kind of stuck with dirt bikes until I turned pro, and I rode pro for a couple years and then pretty much wrapped that up and got swept under the rug. I wasnít really making any money at it and I was kind of done until this whole quad thing popped up. The quad thing is cool because it opened up another door for me. Luckily my friends made me come to a race and try it out.
So your switch from bikes to quads came because some friends invited you to come to a quad race?
Yeah, I had raced the WORCS race the week before, and then the next week my buddies were going up and they had this Suzuki quad, so I threw in my gear bag and was just going to go up and practice, but I went really fast and they were like, ďDude you gotta race.Ē So they signed me up in the pro class and I ended up getting fourth. And that was that.
Was it a WORCS race or just a local event?
No it was a WORCS race.
You took fourth in your first race on a quad in the Pro class at a WORCS race?
Yeah, and then after that my wife and I sold a bunch of my dirt bike stuff, took out a loan and bought another Suzuki since thatís what I had done well on at that race. Started the next year and got fourth at the first round, then fourth at the second round and ended up winning a race that first year.
So you just started racing the Pro class right from the get go?
Yeah, I just jumped into it and started riding Pro just like that.
How did side-by-sides get thrown into the mix?
When Polaris came out with that four-seater 800, I wanted one really bad because it was something for me and my family to go cruise around on our property, and I live pretty close to Pismo so we could take it to the dunes and what not. Then I got tied up with Harlan from ATV Riders and he got a demo that he let me have to do write ups on and then I went to a huge money race at an Indian Casino. They put out a ridiculous purse for the side-by-sides, so I signed up and raced the side-by-side. Funny enough at the starting line there was a guy telling us, ďHey, some of you guys obviously have never been in real race cars so youíre gonna have to move out of the way when the leaders come around to lap you and what not,Ē and he was kinda specifically looking at me. I ended up winning the race and making about $8,000. I want to say there were around 70 cars there and I beat them all with a stock four-seater.
So is that when you made UTVs a part of your program?
Well, I wasnít really supposed to race that car. No one had told me not to race it, but I donít think anyone thought that Iíd seriously go enter a race with a four-seater, but since I did really well with it, they couldnít really get mad at me because I won. So the next year I finally got a demo two-seater and started racing the WORCS races.
Switching gears a little bit, youíve been involved with two separate teams in recent years. Have you given any thought to running your own team like Chad Wienen or Joe Byrd?
For me especially with me running side-by-sides, right now there just wouldnít be enough time for me to be able to do that. We race Quadcross and then WORCS on both quads and side-by-sides, and thereís just no way I could run my own program. Maybe down the road, but I doubt it. Iíd rather just ride for somebody and be able to collect a paycheck and thatís it.
Youíre one of the few guys whoís been able to make a living riding an ATV. Whatís a typical day look like for you since you donít have a ďnormalĒ job?
Most of the time I spend more time than the average guy at a job. I live so far from the race shop and I have to maintain my own practice stuff and my side-by-side program. I do the work on the side-by-side so that keeps me pretty busy. Between riding, practicing, riding my dirt bike and maintenance almost every other day and trying to get my personal stuff ready to go for the next weekend and everything that goes with it, Iíd say itís at least equivalent to a 9-5 and Iíd say probably more.
So who spins the wrenches for you?
Alan (H&M team manager) does most of the quad stuff, but as far as practice bikes go Iím on top of that. If thereís a major problem Iíll head over there and he helps with that, but for the most part general maintenance is all my job.
But you have some help on race day, correct?
Yeah, Theo Lusardi is there for me on race weekends. If Alan needs him heíll have him come help at the shop, but for the most part heís just there for me on the weekends.
What type of training do you do?
For the side-by-side itís really just getting out and driving, but for the quad I ride dirt bikes, I ride mountain bikes, a lot of cardio because thatís important, but to be honest itís mostly just a lot of riding. Thatís the best thing you can do is just ride as much as you can.
Do you feel like maybe youíre hitting your peak, or do you think youíve still got plenty of gas in the tank?
Iíve got lots of life left. Sometimes I feel like I need to press a little bit harder. I feel like I can maybe push harder than I am, so if needed I feel like I could step it up. Hereís the way I look at it Ė if Iím sitting around and I have extra time, I find myself thinking, ĎWell, whatís that other guy doing? What should I be doing?í And then I start to feel guilty and then I go do what I need to be doing, or maybe even over do it (laughing).
With the industry leaning more and more in the direction of side-by-sides, do you have any intention of giving up quads to focus solely on that in the future?
Well, this year I knew it would be super important to win the side-by-side to set myself up for years to come, so I put in a really solid year to make sure I was good to go for next year and maybe the year after. My heartís in the quads, but I donít know, with the way the economy is and the way that everybodyís going it looks like everybodyís running side-by-sides. So if thatís what we gotta do then thatís what we gotta do. I really enjoy it. Itís still racing so I thoroughly enjoy it. Iíd like to continue racing the quad also. Iíve kind of thought about maybe one day trying to get inside of a trophy truck. I think that would be my ultimate goal for later when I canít actually race a quad.
Talking machine setup, how do you guys go about deciding which components to use?
Most of the stuff that we decide to use is not generally based on who pays us the most or anything like that. Itís more of like a general consensus on what parts we feel are the best, and then we go after those sponsors versus the sponsors just paying us to use a product that we donít like. So pretty much everything thatís on our quads is what we want to run verses what we get paid to run or whatever else. Itís kind of nice having a team thatís not completely factory that has to have exactly everything a certain way. If me and Davi decide we want to try something then we buy it and try it, and if we like it then thatís what we run.
Your wife and kids are always at the track with you. How do you balance the racing and family?
Yeah my wife is really supportive of it but the school system isnít really (laughs). But no itís pretty good. I enjoy taking my wife and kids to the races. Thatís why I bought a motor home in the first place because I like having them there. Whenever they get a chance to go Iíd like them to be there, and they enjoy it. The kids have different friends that they only get to see at the races so they like to go.
Thanks for taking the time to give us a peak inside your program, and congrats again on winning both the Pro ATV and Pro Side-by-Side championships.
ATV: H&M Motorsports 2013 Honda TRX 450R
Engine: Curtis Sparks
Exhuast: Curtis Sparks
Swingarm: Walsh Racecraft
A-Arms: Roll Design
Nerfbars: Roll Design
Bumper/grab bar: Roll Design
Handlebars: Fast Co Flex Bars
Steering Stem: Roll Design
Levers/perch: Works Connection
Stabilizer: Precision Racing Products
Runflat System: Tireblocks
Air Filter: K&N
Graphics: Finish Line Signs
Brake lines: Streamline
Skid Plate: TCS
UTV: 2013 Polaris XP900
Suspension: Holz Racing Products
Sway Bar: Holz Racing Products
Roll Cage: Holz Racing Products
Bumper: Holz Racing Products
Shocks: Walker Evans
Engine: Curtis Sparks
Exhaust: Curtis Sparks
Air Filter: K&N
Wheels: Walker Evans
Graphics: SSI Decals
Runflat System: Tireblocks
Skid Plate: TCS