In the Driver's Seat

Ryan Schartau

Age: 16 (2 October 2002)
Lives in: Chino, California
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Student; sophomore at Ontario Christian High School
Car number: 7r
Type of chassis: RBK-STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Dean Kuhn
Sponsors: Scott Brothers Dairy; SpillVak; Team RBK Years in racing: 11 years Divisions raced: Go-karts, Trophy Karts, Legends Cars, Late Models, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Series point standings: First year

Ryan Schartau no7

When Ryan Schartau knew he would do his racing this year in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV, he set a seemingly modest goal for himself.

“I wanted to be rookie of the year,” he said, and in most seasons the 16-year-old from Chino, California, might have reached that goal. His performance has been good enough, with a third at Madera, California, in June, five top 10 finishes and seventh place in the Hoosier Tire West point standings.

Unfortunately for the Ontario Christian High School sophomore, this year’s field of contenders for the Downforce Racing Products Rookie of the Year Award is the strongest and deepest in the four-year history of the competition, led by multi-time short track champion Justin Johnson.

Johnson has been the top finishing rookie in seven of the nine points races and got his first win in the most recent event, at Madera October 6. Johnson has clinched the rookie award and Cody Kay is a firm second going into the Hoosier Tire Championship 100 presented by Downforce Saturday, October 27, at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where Schartau and Jeremy Kay will battle for third in the rookie standings.

Schartau also will be trying to move up a spot or two in the standings and stay ahead of the three drivers closest to him, veterans Aaron McMorran and Eddie Secord and fellow rookie Jeremy Kay.

Johnson, meanwhile, represents the final obstacle between Taylor Miinch and a second straight series title. Miinch, who won the season opener at Havasu in March, will begin this weekend with a 37-point lead. There are 77 points available to the race winner (75 for the victory and 2 bonus points for either setting fast time in qualifying or advancing the most positions during the race) and if Johnson should earn all 77 Miinch would need to finish 17th to claim the title.

Schartau can use the race at Havasu 95 Speedway to assess his progress this season. He said when he made his series debut there in March “we were like last (because of a broken radiator), and now we’re the seventh-place car, so I’ve improved a lot, I think,” and the challenging 1/4-mile oval will be a good place to confirm that.

Ron Schartau used to race Late Model stock cars at Irwindale (California) Speedway and Ryan developed an interest in driving during trips to the track with his dad. They did go-karts, winning seven national titles and the national sportsmanship award, and Trophy Karts for a couple of years, moved on to Legends Cars and then into Late Models. Ryan was rookie of the year in that class at Irwindale in 2017 and this year led the point standings until late in the season before finishing second.

Ryan said his success in Late Models had made him feel that he was ready to move up, and after his dad talked with car owner and crew chief Dean Kuhn at Madera late in 2017, they decided on the Lucas Oil Modified Series with Team RBK because, he felt, “there were a lot of drivers that were really good and they would teach me a lot” about racing in the series and driving the various short tracks.

A couple of things he quickly learned were that “there’s a lot more horsepower (in a Modified) than the Late Models” and that the 8-inch Hoosier 700 tires used in the Modified series aren’t like any others. “The late model has less speed and more grip. This has more speed and less grip, so it’s really hard (to find the balance),” Schartau said.

He said he wasn’t nervous about or intimidated by being the youngest driver in the series since “I like to race people older than me because I like a challenge.” He said those older people also have been great about welcoming him to the series, and his plan is to return in 2019.

Maybe by then his high school classmates will have a greater appreciation for what he does.

“Some people go to the races and say ‘that’s cool,’ and some people say ‘oh, all you do is push a pedal,’ he said.

Tracks

Havasu 95 SpeedwayHavasu 95 Speedway
Irwindale Event CenterIrwindale Event Center
Kern County RacewayKern County Raceway
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas Motor Speedway
Madera SpeedwayMadera Speedway
Orange Show SpeedwayOrange Show Speedway
Rocky Mountain RacewayRocky Mountain Raceway
mod-tucson-rp-tsrtucson speedway logo tsr

 

In the Driver's Seat

Ryan Schartau

Ryan Schartau

Age: 16 (2 October 2002)
Lives in: Chino, California
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Student; sophomore at Ontario Christian High School
Car number: 7r
Type of chassis: RBK-STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Dean Kuhn
Sponsors: Scott Brothers Dairy; SpillVak; Team RBK Years in racing: 11 years Divisions raced: Go-karts, Trophy Karts, Legends Cars, Late Models, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Series point standings: First year

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