Down But Not Out: A Post-DAYTONA Follow-Up with JD Beach
An AMA amatuer national dirt track champion from before he was even a teenager, JD Beach was plucked out of the dirt at age 14 and thrown across the ocean to race on pavement in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators on a near-weekly basis.
One year later, Beach was crowned the 2008 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champion in only his second season as a fledgling roadracer. That remarkable accomplishment appeared destined to alter his trajectory forever, shifting his career track from future Grand National Champion to future MotoAmerica Superbike -- or even MotoGP -- king.
However, Beach refused to completely loosen his grip on that original dream, keeping his dirt roots strong while developing into a roadracing star.
Now 27, the Kentucky resident has assembled an impressive assortment of accolades in both disciplines over the years. He currently stands as a multi-time MotoAmerica Supersport champion with 32 class wins to his credit. He also happens to be tied for fourth all-time on the Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys wins list, equal with reigning class champion Dan Bromley at seven.
Still, for all his success, Beach has yet to truly fulfill his immense potential in the premier class in either sport.
In 2019, Beach has an opportunity to conquer both in one fell swoop in an ambitious assault on the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship aboard the all-new Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT, as well as the MotoAmerica Superbike championship on the results-proven Attack Performance/Estenson Racing Yamaha YZF-R1.
Of course, first things first. The initial goal is to register a career-first premier class race win in each arena.
Series observers had the DAYTONA TT circled with an inkling that Beach might just tick off that AFT Twins win in the season opener. And in fact, everything went exactly to plan… until it didn’t.
After running near the front in qualifying and winning his heat, Beach crashed out of contention for yet another victory in his semi -- a tumble that ultimately left him watching the Main Event from the fences.
“Disappointed would be an understatement,” Beach admitted to the world via social media in the immediate aftermath. A couple of days later, he was more philosophical.
“It was just kinda a racing deal,” he said. “We got caught up with how the track was changing over the course of the night. When the crash happened, I just wanted to get back going and keep racing. You never know what could happen, but by the end of the race, I knew I wasn't going to make the Main. The hope was to use a provisional start, but there were some names that didn't make the Main that finished well in the points last year. I kinda knew that I wasn't going to be able to use it.
“That said, I think we worked really well together throughout the day. It definitely sucks the way that it turned out, but I think if we look at all that happened throughout the day, it was still a good event for us. A big goal of mine is to get my first American Flat Track Twins win, and I think we took a good step towards that at Daytona. It gave us all belief and hope that it can happen.”
The upside to running a full AFT schedule as opposed to select wild card appearances is that Beach doesn’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption.
And before anyone discounts his chances at this weekend’s Yamaha Atlanta Short Track presented by Cycle Gear, recall that in his last major ST appearance, he dominated a field that included DAYTONA TT winner Briar Bauman, 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike champion Toni Elías, and numerous other international flat track and GP luminaries, to reign supreme at the 2017 Superprestigio Dirt Track.
Beach said, “I'm looking forward to Atlanta. We've done a lot of testing on smaller tracks. I think as long as the track has some grip, it should be really good for us. It's a type of track that I enjoy racing.
“I'm feeling good about it. It's a new weekend. I'm not going to worry about what happened at Daytona. There's still some stuff we still need to figure out with the bike -- it’s brand new -- but every time we get on it, it keeps getting better. I'm really excited about spending more time on it, and getting it to a point that it's a bike we can win on every weekend no matter what kind of track it is.”
Meanwhile, a potential downside in running such a heavy schedule across sports is the danger of spreading himself too thin and not being able to focus properly on either (monumental) task. A handful of years back -- and in the midst of a mini-career slump while running a relatively packed cross-series schedule -- certain circles of roadracing observers felt that in fact was the case with Beach.
“I didn't agree with that,” Beach said. “I think I was getting the best results I could at the time. No, I don't agree with that. And the difference is now, I'm a little older and I understand it all a lot better. And I am kinda riding for the same team at both, and we're a lot more well established. We're all working together to make the travel easier and allowing me to really concentrate on riding.”
Regardless of anyone’s opinion, the fanatically committed and naturally gifted Beach is more than happy to prove them wrong. And any doubters should keep in mind that he has a long history of steamrolling everyone in his path once things click.
He said, “I definitely love both sports. I don't feel like I've done everything I want to do in roadracing yet, so I'm not ready to step away from it. And I feel like the career window in that is a little bit smaller. But it’s also great how much the sport of flat track has grown. It's cool that now American Flat Track and MotoAmerica are both on the same level.”