Ryan Shehan Comes Full Circle with First F4 U.S. Win
Ryan Shehan Comes Full Circle with First F4 U.S. Win
Driver Fought Back from Devastating Karting Incident to Win First F4 U.S. Race
INDIANAPOLIS (September 23, 2022) – Ryan Shehan has been a fixture in the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) paddock since 2021. Most know him as the driver of the No. 66 Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport Ligier JS F4, but what many don’t know is that Shehan’s racing career nearly came to an abrupt end on the go-kart track at Homestead-Miami Speedway just two short years ago.
Shehan was preparing for a national race at Homestead-Miami Speedway when a major incident in testing left him severely injured. He was transported via helicopter to a local hospital with injuries to his head, jaw, back, arm and legs including major burns. The fact the he survived is a testament to the first responders on scene and his fast-thinking medical team.
“It was a pretty bad deal,” said Shehan regarding the incident. “I don’t remember it, so most of my information is secondhand. I woke up three days later in the hospital not really knowing what was going on.”
Doctors initially gave a grim outlook suggesting the 14-year-old would never race again and might have permanent brain damage. Shehan, however, had other plans. He first focused on recovery and then on returning to the driver’s seat.
“The recovery was about nine weeks,” said Shehan. “I was in the hospital for six days, which was really short given the severity of the injuries. I was able to get up and start walking on day five and walked out the hospital the next day. I was still pretty beat up.
“The first month was just a lot of rest,” Shehan continued. “I couldn’t look at any screens because of the brain injury. School was out of the question. It took about five weeks before I was finally able to get back to school and back to physical training. I attended some kart races with the team, and went through a psych evaluation to make sure that I wouldn’t have any PTSD or trauma whenever I got back in the seat.”
Just nine weeks after the incident, Shehan got back in his go-kart at Speedsportz Racing Park in his native Texas to continue chasing his motorsports dream. He spent the remainder of the 2020 season racing karts before completing his first test in an F4 U.S. car in November 2020.
In 2021, Shehan completed his rookie F4 U.S. season, finishing 23rd in the point standings after earning points in three events.
The 2022 season has been an entirely different story. Earning his first F4 U.S. win at New Jersey Motorsports Park in July, the 17-year-old has recorded six podiums in 12 races, ranking fourth in the championship point standings.
“We did a lot of work over the winter,” Shehan said. “Not just testing in the car, but I did a lot of work with my trainers and sports psychologist to try to move up in the order. It feels great to have that jump from last year, and to have that effort pay off. Now, I’m hoping that we can keep this performance going into next year in Formula Regional Americas.”
Any struggle can offer a silver lining. For Shehan and his family, that silver lining has been the Shehan Strong nonprofit. Formed initially as a GoFundMe by family and friends in the days following Shehan’s incident, the funding provided much needed resources throughout his recovery. In 2021, the Shehan family registered Shehan Strong as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and have been working to inspire youth audiences to chase big dreams.
“Shehan Strong has gone through a few iterations,” said Shehan. “But everything clicked this past January when I got the opportunity to talk at Deerpark Middle School in Round Rock Independent School District, which is located just outside of Austin [Texas]. I talked to the kids there about the different ways that you can make a career out of something that you’re passionate about. Using racing as my example, I explained that you don’t need to be the driver; you can become an engineer, a designer or even work in marketing. Through that experience, I realized that Shehan Strong should be used as a resource to make an impact and inspire youth. I hope to carry Shehan Strong and its mission with me as I climb the racing ladder.”
To learn more about Ryan Shehan and Shehan Strong, visit ryanshehan.com.
F4 U.S. will join Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda, International GT, the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli and the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association at VIRginia International Raceway for the Andy Scriven Memorial at the Mission Foods VIR SpeedTour, October 6-9. Tickets for the event are available at VIRnow.com. Fans can also live stream Rounds 13-15 of the 2022 championship season from home on the new SpeedTour TV YouTube channel.
About Formula Regional Americas Championship & Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda: The FIA-certified Formula 4 United States Championship & Formula Regional Americas Championship are designed as entry-level open-wheel racing series offering young talent the opportunity to demonstrate their skills on an international platform while keeping affordability and safety as key elements. The Championships align with the global FIA development ladder philosophy of using common components to provide a cost-efficient, reliable and powerful racing structure as drivers ascend through the levels on their way to U.S. or global racing success.