Brian Deegan packed up his belongings along with a dirt bike and an old truck at the age of 17, moving from Omaha to southern California with the intention of becoming the next great motocross racer. After working his way onto a supercross team, Deegan did a ghost ride across the finish line at the LA Coliseum in 1997 and the sport of Freestyle Motocross was born.
Thirteen years later, the innovator, entrepreneur and X-Games champion is set to embark on a new career – behind the wheel of a 3,400-pound stock car. Last weekend, he announced a transition into NASCAR that’ll begin with late models and perhaps some K&N East and West starts later this year.
Deegan formed a group he calls the Metal Mulisha, which epitomizes the wide-open, free-wheeling lifestyle that is freestyle motocross. While competing under their banner, Deegan has amassed 10 X-Games medals, the most decorated racer in the history of the modern extreme sports competition. While pushing the envelope in various stunts for the Metal Mulisha, Deegan has sustained a myriad of broken bones and has nearly died on three different occasions.
In his most recent near-death experience, while filming a stunt for MTV’s Viva La Bam, Deegan lost a kidney and severely injured his spleen.
But that hasn’t stopped him from taking on another challenge on wheels. In anticipation of going stock car racing, Deegan formed the Rockstar Energy/Metal Mulisha/Lucas Oil short course off-road truck racing team. They won the 2009 championship and have already notched two victories in 2010, showcasing how far-reaching his motorsports talent can be.
So what made him turn NASCAR’s way? Deegan was excited when Brian France announced his sport was going to take the gloves off and let the boys race in 2010.
“I took it as a personal invitation for guys like me,” he said Saturday. “I love racing, I love going fast, I love pushing the limit and that’s what I’m going to bring to NASCAR. I have been designated as the General of the Metal Mulisha and so the Metal Mulisha army is going to march on NASCAR.”
Deegan is going to be driving for NTS Motorsports, a Bakersfield, Calif.-based racing team that intends to move Deegan through the developmental ranks of racing with the ultimate goal of reaching the Cup level of NASCAR.
NTS team owner Bob Newberry noted, “Brian is a winner, and is going to bring the same commitment and passion that took him to the top of Motocross and the X-Games world to our racing program. We are similarly committed to putting Brian in world-class equipment, getting him the seat time to ensure his success and moving him through our development process to Sprint Cup, period.”
In reference to what Deegan and the NTS group bring to the table, “NASCAR will be energized by both new fans and new sponsors that Deegan and the Metal Mulisha will attract. In fact, we have already brought in two exciting new sponsors, MySmokinRide.com, the Facebook of motorsports and race fans, and Fountain Powerboats, the premier powerboat manufacturer in the world. Both sponsors immediately recognized the opportunity that this team will bring to the world of racing.”
The Metal Mulisha is going to bring millions of fans to the table, many of which are going to be totally new to stock car racing. The Metal Mulisha website receives over a million hits per month and the annual sales of Mulisha merchandise total over $30 million. The Mulisha is going to rival Junior Nation in terms of dedicated, loyal fans who eat, breathe and sleep whatever it is Deegan preaches. In a time of lagging attendance and television numbers, this is an influx that will most certainly please the people who head up NASCAR.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.