By Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by: Rachel Plant
LA COSTE, Texas — In a state loaded with family-oriented short track teams, some stand out above the others for their history, talent and overall passion for auto racing.
For 23-year-old Ryan Doyon, carrying on a long-standing tradition of success in racing is a matter of personal pride. As a third-generation racer, he has big shoes to fill – yet he's making his own mark on the sport in 2019.
Doyon usually competes in the Sport Mod class at I-37 and at South Texas Speedway down in Corpus Christi. This season, he also climbed into a truck in the new Texas Dirt Truck Series (TDTS), and has a pair of wins to his credit. In 18 starts overall, he's earned two top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
“A big part of my success is the race team behind me,” Doyon said. “They help me so much in our shop, whether it's the Sport Mod, the Pure Stock or the new Truck. If I'm not able to be there, I have good people around to help me. There is a lot of work involved, and I've got some dedicated guys.”
Now in his seventh year of racing, Doyon came up through the ranks in proper fashion. He paid his dues along the way, winning features at an early age and honing his skills in various classes.
“Our family background in racing started with my grandfather, Ray Doyon II” Doyon explained. “He used to go drag racing all over San Antonio and wherever he could compete back in the day. My father, Ray Doyon III, started racing in the early to mid 1990s, beginning with stock cars and moving up to Modifieds. He is just completing his third year as the promoter at I-37 with partner Michael Keylich.
“I started my career in the Lone Star Quarter Midgets when I was about five or six years old. I ran in those until I was eight or nine and steadily progressed from there. I love what I'm doing now, and I'm always searching for ways to find more speed and improve. Racing is always a work in progress.”
Like his friendly rival Cody Leonard and a handful of others, Doyon faces the challenge of adapting to different types of cars (or trucks, in this case) as the season unfolds. Yet he seems up to the task.
“There are a ton of differences in each kind of race vehicle I drive,” Doyon said. “The differences between the Sport Mod and the Truck are huge. My Sport Mod is much more responsive to wheel input and isn't nearly as heavy. The truck drives more like a Factory Stock, yet is still unique in its own way.
“You have to try and keep it straight, as opposed to tossing it sideways and running up on the cushion. It takes some finesse, for sure, yet I'm getting more comfortable in it every time out. It's a real blast.”
Another challenge Doyon faces is learning what the track will take on any given night, be it wet or dry.
“Like any type of racing, you have to give it a lot of thought and closely examine the racing surface,” he explained. “If you plan to run the outside or up on that cushion, you really have to focus, hit your marks, pay attention to what the track is doing and to what your car wants. It's hard work, for sure.
“It takes a lot of throttle control, especially here in south Texas where it's so dry. There's not a lot of grip, so you have to keep your tires under you and not waste valuable rubber early on in the evening.”
Doyon's success on the dirt ovals doesn't come without a tremendous support network behind him. The talented wheel-man is quick to thank those dedicated individuals who keep him moving forward.
“I really have to thank my father, first off, for all he does for my race program, Doyon said. “I could never do this without him. I'm also very fortunate to have my cousin, Robby Minten, helping me, and great guys like Johnny Brown and Johnny Walker working hard at our shop. They do anything we need done, and I would be lost without them.
“This really is a family-based race team, but we have an extended family that redefines loyalty. I also need to thank my mother and my brother; they aren't really as into this sport as my Dad and I are, yet they both support me in a big way. We also have Chris Anderson, who helps us out a lot, as well.”
Along with a loyal and devoted race team behind him, Doyon is also blessed to have a fine group of marketing partners supporting his efforts. Nobody wins races without some decent financial support.
“I'm blessed to have a great group of fine companies behind me, starting with my father's business, 3D Landscaping,” Doyon said. “I also need to thank I-37 Speedway, Shepard's Racing Engines, CD Tires, IRP Race Cars, who helps us out a lot with chassis setups on the Sport Mod, All In Designs, of San Antonio, ACE Transmissions and Empire Race Cars. I couldn't do all of this without their support.”
As this 2019 season starts to wind down, Doyon has a few special events circled on the calendar and a clear goal in mind.
“I blew my motor here a month or so ago, and we're just getting the new one tuned to where it needs to be,” Doyon said. “We're headed up to the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the big Dirt Track Championships. I really want to get into the A Main, but I know the competition will be off the charts.
“Our goal beyond that is to run some big fall races in my Sport Mod and do well in those, plus we want to run the three remaining TDTS races in the truck and support that series. We just want to be fast and run competitively in the classes we run, while having a little fun. It's what this family loves to do.”