PSM RIDER OEHLER STARTING NEW BUSINESS – TAMPA BAY RACE RENTALS
Ryan Oehler has been competing full-time in NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class since 2018.
Now, he’s in the drag racing business. He and partner Jim Gottmann are opening Tampa Bay Race Rentals at Showtime Dragstrip in Clearwater, Fla. Gottmann is part of Oehler’s PSM team.
“It’s a drag racing experience that’s going to be open to the general public,” Oehler said. “We will be using brand-new Mustangs and it is a drag racing experience/school. It’s intended for the non-professionals who are vacationing in the Tampa Bay area who want the experience of going down the eighth-mile drag strip in one of today’s modern muscle cars.
“The initial part of it will be getting familiar with the car. You will do a ridealong with one of the instructors and the participants will get to enroll into a challenge to race each other for bragging rights which will allow them to really get that feel for what it really means to drag race.”
The launch party for Tampa Bay Rentals is taking place from 7-10 p.m. (ET) at the Hooters in Gainesville, Fla., March 11. It is being run in conjunction with an NHRA meet-and-greet.
“We are going to have bikes and both cars on display,” Oehler said. “The cars are brand-new Mustang GTs with a drag race package. This all started a couple of years ago because when we would get done with the race season and go on vacation, I was renting cars from Hertz and Enterprise. They have their muscle packages with Camaros, Mustangs and Corvettes. We would go to the racetrack and race them. We had so much fun doing it.
“We left with the idea that we should do this as a business. Instead of discouraging people from racing the cars, we should encourage them to race the cars. It’s how NHRA was formed - getting people off the streets and on to the track. The best part I can see about this is when someone has never drag raced and you put them in the performance car and let them go down the dragstrip, the overall excitement and enjoyment is obvious, and you can see the addiction start almost immediately. We went ahead, sunk our teeth in and we have put together this business.”
The Tampa Bay area made sense for the business for multiple reasons.
“I have a home down there and we vacation down there and more than anything it is warm weather all the time, it is a tourist destination, and the track is directly in the center of town,” Oehler said. “When you have a racetrack in the middle of a town it gives people the option to go drag racing if they don’t want to golf or go to the beach. There’s no business model for drag racing in that area. I feel like it is an untapped source, and the Tampa Bay area is overflowing with people moving there, going there and people who are looking for fun things to do.
“Also, when you have your own business that’s directly involved in bringing the experience of drag racing to your fans, that just seems like a home run to me. I will be running the business initially and we are going to be training other instructors to work with us. But it will be my baby until we get all the kinks worked out.”
The 2020 season was Ryan Oehler’s best-to-date in his NHRA career. Oehler, campaigning an Erik Buell Racing motorcycle, finished seventh in the point standings, highlighted by winning Indy 1 and a runner-up performance at Houston.
The 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series begins at the 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway March 12-14.
“We have still been in the dyno cell and we finally started to have some good luck,” Oehler said. “We clocked out at 1 a.m. (March 4) and it is the first time in several weeks that we left with our heads held high. We will make some runs Tuesday and Wednesday (prior to the Gatornationals) and be ready to go.”