Ryan Roulette goes from the Air Force to the racetrack in ARCA Menards Series
Ryan Roulette admits that his idea of relaxation is a little different from that of his colleagues.
The Minot, North Dakota resident, who is a pilot in the US Air Force, enjoys spending his free time racing.
“It really helps my mental toughness, if you will, by giving me something that is for me and has nothing to do with my day job,” said Roulette, who has made three starts on the ARCA Menards Series platform. over the past two seasons. . “Some guys think that’s crazy. They’re like, ‘Let me clear this up. Your balance goes 170 mph or whatever around a racetrack snagged by the seat of your pants. That balances you?
“For someone like me, yes.”
Military service runs in Roulette’s family. He is part of the third generation of the Air Force. Both his father and grandfather served, and when it came time for him to decide what to do after graduating from high school, he made the decision to follow in their footsteps.
“It was always something that was in the background as I went through high school trying to figure out my life,” Roulette offered of the possibility of joining the military. “As the end of high school approached, I had an interest in college, and at the same time I wanted to venture out on my own and do something unique and different.
“Serving my country, especially after 9/11 and everything that happened there, seemed like the right thing for me and what I wanted to do.”
Joining the Air Force allowed Roulette to travel all over the world. It also allowed him to pursue opportunities in racing, which ultimately led to his debut on the ARCA Menards Series platform last season at the West Series Finals at Phoenix Raceway.
The experience was eye-opening for Roulette, which started 30th and finished 22nd in its first ARCA event.
“When you get to get inside (the track) and you’re standing on pit road and you have the car in front of you and your name on it and you look up…it’s a whole another feeling,” Roulette said.
The 36-year-old has been racing since his high school days. He grew up near Knoxville Raceway in Iowa, home of the famous Knoxville Nationals sprint car event which takes place every August.
After watching countless races there, a friend gave him the opportunity to try out a lightning sprint, a smaller version of a sprint car.
It didn’t take long for Roulette to get hooked.
“I had the chance to try out a friend’s car and immediately fell in love with it,” Roulette recalls. “Since that day back in high school, I was always trying to find a way to get into a car.”
Roulette relied on fellow Army member, NASCAR Xfinity Series team owner, driver and U.S. Navy reservist Jesse Iwuji, who helped him learn to sail as an active member of the army while pursuing a career in motorsport.
“I got in touch with him maybe five years ago,” Roulette recalls. “He kind of paved the way for me, if you will, because he lived through active duty, having to reach out and find teams that didn’t know anything about him.
“It’s really difficult for me to navigate and explain that I have a lot of experience. That’s just not what guys who grow up on asphalt have. So how can I convert this experience? He was able to help me navigate this part.
Being both a runner and an active member of the military can sometimes lead to a busy schedule. For example, Roulette entered the Music City 200 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 7, finishing 10th.
After the race, Roulette resumed his role in the Air Force, which took him to Guam, a small US island territory in the Western Pacific.
He plans to return home to the United States this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“Before I even raced in Nashville, I was working in home simulation on iRacing,” Roulette said. “But that week as well, I’m flying planes and doing training missions around CONUS (a military team for the continental United States).
“Then I had the opportunity to do this race (in Nashville). Then after this race I do missions and I serve. It’s definitely unique in that regard. Although I would love to be seated there with the team constantly working on things, a lot of things that I have to do are on the phone.
When he’s not traveling for the Air Force, Roulette can usually be found racing his own weekend sprint car near his home in North Dakota.
He hopes to add a few more ARCA events to his schedule this season in addition to his local race plans in North Dakota, but that will depend on both his schedule and Air Force funding.
He wants teams to know that while he may not be as young as drivers like Daniel Dye, Nick Sanchez or Rajah Caruth, he has plenty of experience in a race car.
Also, you should never neglect a member of the military.
“In some cases, we may not have skills that are directly transferable to the civilian sector, but we have a lot of other skills that make us very motivated, motivated and very hard workers in general,” Roulette said. “We’re the type to say that if you give us a goal line if you want and we have to go from A to B, I assure you that we’re going to get there one way or another, even if it’s is painful for us to go there.