Let Me Tell You About This Race: JD Beach
Every rider who has advanced to the Progressive American Flat Track ranks has competed in so many races throughout their life, it’s virtually impossible for them to recall every last one. However, some races are simply unforgettable, whether due to triumph, disaster, excitement, chaos, or hilarity.
In this series, we’ve asked a number of the world’s greatest dirt trackers to tell us about one particular race that stands out in their memory be it a Progressive AFT Main Event, a regional amateur race a decade ago, or simply an epic backyard barnburner.
You’d be hard pressed to find a racer with more race stories to tell than Mission SuperTwins ace JD Beach, who’s won on dirt and pavement on multiple continents. Choosing just one proved impossible and for good reason:
I have a few races that I considered before I narrowed it down to two. But since those two came in one week, I figured that was close enough.
The races that really stick out for me are the 2019 Arizona Super TT and the Virginia MotoAmerica round when I won my first Mission SuperTwins race and my first MotoAmerica Superbike race in the span of a week.
The way it all kinda worked out was cool because I was riding for Tim (Estenson) in both series that year because Tim was helping out with the Attack deal. And Arizona was Tim's home race, so there were tons of people there for both him and me.
I remember I was good all day. I was fast, but still, I was so nervous. I had been getting good starts, but in the Main I screwed the start. I was like fifth or sixth going into the first turn. We had a red flag, so I got another chance at it, and I screwed it again!
I was fifth or sixth again, so I just made my way through the pack, one guy at a time. For how big that track was, it was kind of hard to pass. One spot that I felt I was really fast on was Turn 1, but if you got a little wide there, there was a hole. And if you hit that hole you'd slide up the track.
I just stayed patient and worked my way through. By the time I finally got up to second, Briar (Bauman) was way out there, and I thought, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this.' But I had a mark on where he was and I was at and kept pushing and pushing.
I think it was probably about six laps to go and I could see I was gaining on him, just a little bit. That provided some extra wind for me. So I kept pushing, and I could see each lap the mark was getting closer and closer. With two laps to go I was almost there. 'I did not just put in all this work to get second.' I was either going to win or go down.
I closed up on him and almost messed it up going to 1. I hit that hole, but I managed to get it turned. I closed back in going into Turn 2, and right when I went to either make the pass or crash trying, he went wide just a little bit.
Once I got by him, I hammered down that last lap.
To get the first win on the Yamaha there for Tim was awesome. It was something he had worked so hard for.
Afterward, I flew back home and was there for two days before I got in my van and drove to Virginia.
That race was an interesting one. I had started out the year pretty good on the Superbike. I had belief in myself that I could win a race, but I didn't know when or if it would happen. We had a lot of fast guys in the class that year.
I felt good all weekend. It's a track I had done well at in the past. I remember sitting on the grid for the Sunday race and thinking about it being May 5th. May 5th is a day I'm always aware of because that's the date Ethan Gillim passed years earlier. It's always a harder day for me.
Hayden (Gillim) was racing the Supersport class, and his race was right before mine. He crashed out of the race the day before, but he came back and won his race. I was pumped for him, and it inspired me. We've both won on May 5th before, but we've never both won on the same May 5th.
Then while we were out on the grid, this storm just came blowing in. It poured down rain. I had flashbacks to a race a couple years earlier at Virginia. It had poured just like that. I was on the 600 then and we decided to use rain tires. I didn't think it would dry up as fast as it did. Long story short, I ended up getting last.
So on the Superbike, (Attack Performance Team Owner) Rich (Stanboli) was like, 'We're staying on slicks. You've got to go for it.'
When the race started, I was sitting fourth or fifth. Kyle Wyman was on rain tires and he just left us. I was like, 'Bud, you'd better go because we're gonna be coming soon.'
He took off, and I don't know what it was, but I could dry lines a little bit better than everyone else. My line going into 4 was way up the inside of the track, and I could brake real hard. I just felt like I was on a different track than everybody else. I made my way through the pack pretty dang quick. I came around one lap and I was second. The gap to Kyle was coming down and the gap to third was going up.
I finally passed Kyle and a couple laps later my pitboard said +5. I thought it must be +0.5. 'There ain't no way I'm five seconds ahead.' But I was, and when I realized it, I was thinking, 'Holy cow, I'm going to do this!'
Getting that win just capped off a crazy week. It was a great week for sure.
I was reminded of those two races lately, because those wins were the first two in my goal of getting an old-school Grand Slam. But that year, even after I got those, our dirt track bike was still quite a ways off on the ovals so it didn't really seem like something that was real.
But after last year... Now I have the Short Track win too, and there's a good chance I could have got the others if our bike didn't break twice. I’m really motivated to get that done this year.
Racers Are People Too, JD Beach Edition
Favorite Food: Short answer is anything free! But really I don’t have one favorite, it changes but I love food and trying things. I’m lucky to get to travel as much as I do. I try to avoid chain restaurants when I’m on the road.
Favorite Restaurant/Stop on the Road: I always look to find cool coffee shops with coffee and food. My go to drink is a mocha with oat milk so I like seeing how differently it can be made.
Favorite Band: That’s hard to say. I love to listen to music but it always changes who my favorite is, and I can pretty much listen to any type.
Favorite Song: That’s kind of like with bands, it always changes. But it’s no secret that I stutter, and the thing about music is when I sing I don’t stutter so when I’m driving alone I love to sing. I looked it up and in 2022 on my phone the top two most played songs were “Vacation” by Dirty Heads and “Fancy Like” by Walker Hayes.
Favorite TV Series: I don’t like being inside or sitting down, but when I do I usually fall asleep fast. I do like trying to watch Survivor or Shark Tank though until I’m asleep.
Favorite Movie: My all-time favorite is On Any Sunday since I was a little kid but non racing would be Top Gun or Draft Day. Most of my movie watching is on planes so if there isn’t a new one out I want to see, those are my go to.
Favorite Hobby that Doesn't Involve Wheels, Engines, or Racing: Being outside. My family and I have five golden retrievers so when everyone is at work I’m the babysitter. I love being at my land and playing with them and swimming in my pond. Also Frankie Lee and Hayden (Gillim) both have sons now so I like to spend time with them and play with them.