Article By Tyler Porter, Photos by Savannah Rose Originally published July 2019
When you look at him, you might not expect much. He stands just over five feet tall and barely cracks 120 pounds on the scale. If you saw him on the street, you might think he’s a pint-size Slash impersonator. But, beyond his size and friendly personality lies a fierce competitor; one who recently checked off a long-standing accomplishment to his blossoming career.
JD Beach is no stranger to flat track competition. You could almost say he was born into it. His father, Gary Beach was a long time Northwest racer and he still throws a leg over a vintage triumph from time to time. The 27-year-old began his career at the ripe age of 3, on dirt tracks across Washington and Oregon. JD caught the attention of Danny Walker of American Supercamp fame, and soon JD was taking the famous flat track schools any chance he could. Before he was a teenager, he was teaching some of the camps. Things really started to take off for him around 2007. It was then that he joined the Red Bull Rookies Cup, a worldwide series that pits the best young talent in the world against each other on identically prepared 125cc road racing machines. Traveling the world as a teenager isn’t for the faint of heart, but the heart is one thing JD has never been short on. JD ended up winning the series in 2008, and, I believe, many people saw massive things happening for him quickly.
In 2009, AMA Pro Flat Track (Now AFT) created the Pro Singles class and made it a true national series. It runs alongside what was then called the Expert class; now called AFT Premier Twins. This gave JD the platform he needed to show the world that they missed out on an amazing talent across the pond. By this time JD had left his home state of Washington to move to Kentucky with the Gillim family, so he would be closer to the Midwest-based dirt track series. Before moving to the Expert class, he tallied 8 Pro Singles race wins, at some of the toughest tracks like the Peoria TT and the Indy Mile while riding a Honda CRF450R tuned by his father. As JD puts it, “Even though Pro Singles isn’t the top class, of course, it felt good. At that time, it was the class I was pouring my heart and soul into, so it felt good to get those wins.”
All the while, the work never stopped. He’s never been shy to participate in both Road Racing and Dirt Track in the same season. After bringing home the 2008 Red Bull Rookies Cup World Title, he turned that into a Yamaha road racing ride for 2009 in the now defunct Young Guns Supersport class. In 2010, he managed to win the championship in that class also. Even with all of the shuffling through the road racing system, JD continued to get sideways on his off weekends. JD moved up to the Expert class in 2010 and stood on the podium in his first ever Grand National event on the Springfield Short Track. For 2011 he made a huge leap to the Superbike class with Team Kawasaki. Keep in mind; this was just four seasons after beginning his road racing career! “The opportunity with Kawasaki was a big jump for me. My road racing experience was still pretty fresh, plus, I was getting on a bike that was brand new, so we had to develop it. That Kawasaki team was used to working with more experienced riders and winning races.”
Still, the high profile road racing teams in Europe weren’t blowing up his phone. That was ok, JD could get his business done domestically on the road racing circuits. He took both the 2015 and 2018 AMA/MotoAmerica supersport titles. He also put it to the European road racers when the Superprestigio Flat Track took place in France. JD’s smooth but aggressive style shocked the world when he came to their turf and showed them all why America is still the king of the sport we invented. Despite all of the wins, the fame, and making a living stateside on factory equipment, JD’s humility never wavered. You can still find him at local race tracks in the offseason playing with the kids in the pits, helping aspiring racers correct some flaws in their race craft and maybe even flagging a corner. Just give JD a motorcycle, a golden retriever or five, a van set up for racing and enough fuel to make it all happen, and he’s grateful for what has been given to him.
For 2019 he’s pulling true double duty, riding for the Monster Energy Attack Performance Estenson Logistics Yamaha in the MotoAmerica Superbike series and then hopping on a Monster Energy Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ07 based flattracker when the pavement runs out. While a Superbike win still eludes him, he’s on solid footing with his new team to battle for podiums and wins and the season grinds on. On a warm, arid night in April, JD did something he’d dreamed of since he first threw a leg over a dirt track bike; he won a Premier Twins AFT Grand National Main event.
The season hasn’t gotten off to a good start; he looked set to win the Daytona TT when a crash in his Semi kept him out of the main event. What happened? “I was just a little too excited,” JD comments. “It was just a little too much front brake and not being on the track for almost two hours. The sun had gone down, and the moisture in the dirt was coming up.” At round two, JD missed out on the main event by one spot, a true heart breaker for him. JD Explains, “We knew it was going to be our hardest track of the year. We struggled with grip there. We actually tested there the next day and improved a bit, but it tooksome time.” He made his first main event of the year at the Texas Half Mile, but a 9th place isn’t where JD wants to be. In JD’s own words, “Texas was a race that we were just happy to make the main. We were the top Japanese brand and improved throughout the night. We also learned a lot about the bike. That’s our goal for this season; always try and take small steps forward.”
Going from a 9th place finish one week to winning the next is more than a small step forward though. The breakthrough win marks the first time that a Yamaha twin has won a Grand National Main Event since Scott Pearson did it at the Peoria TT in 1981, who coincidentally was also wearing the number 95. So what are JD’s plans from here? “I’m not sure what the next career step is for me. There are so many unknowns right now. Racing is changing daily. I just take it day by day and try to win every time that I’m on the bike. I always want to have my hand in dirt track. I don’t want to stop road racing either. I just want to always be a part of this.” No matter the goals, no matter the future championships, no matter where his career takes him, no one forgets their first.