15 Questions with Bryce Menzies on Record-Breaking Off-Road Jump
At 29 years old, Bryce Menzies is already eight years into his racing career. In that time, Menzies has earned multiple victories and championships in both desert racing and short-course off-road events. This weekend he will take an entirely new challenge in a race truck, as he attempts to break the record for the longest off-road jump on Saturday. The event name, Bryce Menzies New Frontier, is a bit of a play on words, as he will literally be jumping over a movie set ghost town in New Mexico while also embarking on his next racing frontier in overseas rally racing.
With sponsors Red Bull and Pennzoil backing the event, Menzies will attempt to break the 332-foot record in his Pro 2 race truck. The crew has been preparing for the jump over the past year. Although Menzies has completed a test jump in the range of the current record he won’t actually jump the distance he intends to cover (roughly 400 feet) until the event this weekend. During testing and research, the team decided to make some key changes to his truck, including swapping his carburetor system for a fuel-injection setup, adding weight to the truck in areas to limit vehicle rotation in air, suspension tuning for rebound and compression, and even PSI was added to his BFGoodrich tires for the landing.
Plenty of planning has gone into the event, so now it’s time to actually make the jump We caught up with Menzies this morning while on location in New Mexico to talk about the upcoming event, his preparation for the jump, and what’s running through his mind leading up to Saturday.
OK, for starters, what made you want to tackle this feat?
“I think it was more of putting my sport out there to the world and showcasing what these trucks can do, and showcasing it out to a broader audience. Seeing what Travis Pastrana and Robbie Maddison did before me just motivated me to elevate our sport. We know what these trucks can do out on a race course, but in testing I wanted to know how far can we actually jump these trucks.”
You just raced Vegas to Reno, you compete in two short-course series, and you plan to race in the upcoming Baja 1000. Even with your experience, do you still get nervous before your races?
“Yeah, it’s calmed down a little but every time before I take a green flag it comes up, and once the flag drops you take a breath and settle in to focus on the race.”
You’re still a few days away, but how does the feeling of preparing for this event compare to pre-race jitters?
“This is probably the most I’ve ever had because it’s so critical that everything is so precise because it could be catastrophic if something goes wrong. Once the day is there you have to be ready to go and put faith in your preparation.”
With a Pro 2 truck set up for the demands of short-course racing, what notable changes did your team make to the truck for this jump?
“I would say some of the biggest right off the bat was having a fuel-injected motor so there’s no bobbles during the jump. It’s a clean, crisp delivery so we had Kevin Kroyer (of Kroyer Racing Engines) build us a motor to eliminate carburetor variables. We tested at the wind tunnel at Ford to change aerodynamics of the truck. We also changed a little bit of the suspension valving for the landing, but other than that this truck isn’t too far off from what we’d race on the track.”
What have you learned so far in testing?
“I think the biggest thing is the speed coming up to the jump and how much speed I carry from when I hit the ramp to actually taking off. The aerodynamic changes and the weight put up front are important because once you’re up in the air you can’t control it, the truck is going to do what it wants, so the only think I can do is bring the nose down by hitting the brake. We need it to fly straight every time we leave.”
What concerns you the most about the jump?
“I think about if anything goes wrong. It’s a massive gap and there’s no room for error. Everything has to go exactly to plan. I know the team that we built around the whole project has made sure everything will go right, the ramp being right and the truck being setup properly. Now it’s just about me being nervous about the distance and getting ready to go.”
Have you done a full test jump covering the distance you plan to travel?
“No, we haven’t gone that far yet but we’ve covered a pretty good distance in the testing leading up to it. We know how much more we need to push for that.”
During one testing session you were shooting for a mark under 70 mpg, but what speed will you need to hit before launching off the jump?
“It’s over 100 for sure, so between 100 and 110 will be the mark we’re looking to hit.”
Obviously this event is signifying some changes for you and your career, so what what’s next for you?
“It’s almost jumping into my next chapter of racing, which is overseas rally racing, and the goal is Dakar. That’s kind of what we’re showcasing is jumping into my next goal; I want to try and take on Dakar. We’re oping for this next year. Nothing is set at this point but we’re working on the details right now.”
What attracts you to Dakar?
“People said it’s the toughest race in the world so that led me right away. It’s 15 days straight. The Baja 1000 is one long stretch really quick; it’s just as hard but different. The long days day after day will be what’s most challenging for me.”
What’s left for you in 2016?
“We have Crandon coming up and will be racing Pro 2 and Pro 4, and then I will take a few months off for knee surgery.”
What’s the story with your knee?
“I cracked my knee cap in half and ripped a tendon off, so it’s time to get it fixed so that I’m prepared for the long days and racing coming ahead. We’re getting it fixed September 12th, and I hope to be back in time for the 1000.”
Does the injury plague you at all leading up to this jump?
“It bothers me every day but I’ve had it for so long I’m just used to it at this point.”
Putting yourself in the truck just prior to the race, what will you be thinking about before you start?
“I think the biggest thing is just making sure that I do everything I’ve done before in practice, be precise, and be mentally focused. Try not to focus on all of the bad things that go through your head all day, so stay focused and keep my mind off things.
How do you clear your head?
“I try to sit in my own room, listen to music and get in my own zone. Once I put on my helmet I just get into my own zone and block everything out, and I do the same thing with racing and I think that will just carry over into this.”
The Bryce Menzies New Frontier Powered by Pennzoil jump will air live on Red Bull TV this Saturday, August 27th at 3 p.m. EST or 12 p.m. PST. There will also be a followup show airing on NBC the following day at 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST. For more information, head over to www.redbull.com/brycemenzies.