Day Motor Sports Driver Profile: Ryan Harris speechless after winning Texas Grand

CROSBY, Texas — It’s one of the longest-running special events in Southeast Texas, and to win a feature in any division there is a major accomplishment. With the 27th annual Texas Grand at 105 Speedway now in the books, one driver who prevailed in his class is at a loss for words.   

For 26-year-old Ryan Harris, winning the Limited Modified A Main last Saturday night was huge. He was busy all year and only ran part-time, but when he did compete, they sure knew he was there. Harris earned three top-five finishes overall this season, but last Saturday’s triumph was a career highlight.

“I’m still speechless, to be honest with you,” Harris said. “We had an absolutely terrible year. We lost a couple of motors, and just struggled all year getting things running right with the parts shortage out there. This is a brand new car for this year, and we bolted on a brand new set of shocks for that race.

“We had no expectations whatsoever going into the night. We really just wanted to qualify and for A Main, and we would have been happy. Once they were forced to lump it all into one day, we knew it was probably either going to be dry-slick or just take lots of rubber.”

Turns out, track conditions last Saturday night were ideal for a Harris clinic on staying out front.

“That suits my driving style,” he said. “I’m not very good when the track is heavy, or full or moisture. The track was heavy on practice night; we made some adjustments, and all we did was slow down. So we went back to our baseline, and just hoped for the best.”    

That roll of the dice panned out pretty well, which could make Harris an ideal casino companion.

“With a format that features two rounds of Heats, you have to perform in both of them to start up front. With guys like John. O. Whittington, Howard Willis, Cody Smith, Corey Neil Jr., who’s been on fire, if you start behind them, they’re tough to get around. We we able to start on the front row.”

Harris is a second generation racer with 20 years of experience, having started out very young.

“My Dad is the one who got me into the sport,” Harris explained. “His grandpa owned a race car, and his uncle was the driver. Dad was supposed to drive it eventually, but before he was old enough his Grandpa got sick and had to get rid of the car. So Dad made some Hot Laps, but never got to race it.    

“I started in Karts when I was six years old, and stayed there until I reached 13. To this day, winning the world’s largest indoor Karting Championship is probably my career highlight. My name is still on the banner. I moved up to Pure Stock in 2010 when I was 14. That was a big challenge after the Karts.”

Harris says the Pure Stock was a great training ground for his future.

“Driving a Pure Stock was helpful, since it taught me to be smooth. I won the Texas Grand in that class my rookie year. We had got a Limited Modified for 2011, but couldn’t really afford to do it right. We ended up trading the car, and went back to Hobby Stock for 2012. We won the Texas Grand in that division, as well.

They say good things come to those who wait, and Harris is a perfect example.

“In 2013, we purchased our first Limited that was actually competitive,” he explained. “We’ve never been fully funded, but with that car we at least had a fighting chance. It takes good equipment to compete in this division, and has for a long while now.”

Over in Southeast Texas, the level of competition within Limited Modified ranks is nearly off the chart.

“Every track around here has their top guns, so there’s a lot of fast guys no matter where we unload,” Harris said. “We see three or four of them at every track, but when they all combine at one show it’s almost anybody’s game. The car has to be just right, and everything has to go your way.”

When Harris puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he climbs into a very fine machine.

“I have a 2022 IRP car, powered by a motor from Stacy at All American Racing Engines (AARE),” he said. “We use Pat Foreman Racing Heads, so between Stacy and Pat I can tell them what I need in my motor, and they make it happen. This new car and engine combination is what really got us going.

“I’ll also give a lot of credit to the new shock package we just got before the Texas Grand from Jeffrey Abbey at CRS Suspension. He talked to me for a while and said he knew what I needed. The shocks he sent us gave me the great handling car I needed to keep all of those top guys behind me on Saturday.”

Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel and top-notch new race car, Harris also has a few key people and some great marketing partners who keep his program on-track and successful.

“I want to thank my Dad first and foremost  for all he does for my racing program,” Harris said. “I also want to thank Justin Kitchens, and all of my friends and family for their support. I couldn’t do this without them or be anywhere near as competitive.

“I’ll also thank my great partners, including All American Racing Engines (AARE); Pat Foreman Racing Heads; HM Motorsports, Marathon Solutions Group, Pro Structures, A&B Construction, KMO Racing, Seals Automatic, CRS Suspension, Supreme Vinyl Works and IRP Race Cars.”

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner and only a couple of Fall Specials left to run, Harris is eyeing the 2023 season with tons of enthusiasm.

“We discussed going to The Clash at Texana this weekend, but I have family that needs my attention,” Harris added. “I’ll have my little boy, and time with him is important. But we do plan on being at South Texas Race Ranch for the Shootout next month to finish out the year. We just want to make the show.

“We’re going to try and finish strong so we can carry this momentum into next season. We plan to race a whole lot more next year, hopefully every weekend and in most of the big shows. I feel like there’s no replacement for seat time. We’ll just build off of this year, and try to have some fun in the process.”

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer

Photo by Ron Skinner