Ryan and Beccy Hunter-Reay have three young sons, so home life never lacks for energy and activity.
Ryden (6), Rocsen (4) and Rhodes (3) share their father’s love of racing and water sports. The Hunter-Reays own a 42-foot Yellowfin boat with a Quad Mercury Verado 350s engine, so trips at sea are a fun family tradition.
“They're absolute fish already,” Ryan said. “My 6- and 4-year-olds are already with fins and masks on, diving down to the bottom of the pool and snorkeling in the ocean.”
If there’s anything Hunter-Reay has learned from fatherhood, it’s that children force a balance with a racing life for Andretti Autosport that has included a 2012 NTT IndyCar Series championship and 2014 Indianapolis 500 victory.
“Oh, it’s all about them,” said Hunter-Reay, 38. “They’re the priority. It’s their world, not ours. I constantly get off red-eyes at 5 or 6 in the morning and I get home and I might shut my eyes for a half hour, but then they’re jumping on me the moment they wake up.
“That’s a beautiful thing, though. I feel like it all goes so quick and I’m just trying to hold onto these times because when they’re so young like this, those are the best times I think, that’s the most enjoyable.”
Nobody ever said parenting is easy, especially with a trio so energetic.
“Kids can definitely wear on you, especially with three of them, it’s non-stop chaos, all of them being so young and all of them being boys,” he said. “So it’s just constant, at times all three of them want to do something different and they’re very opinionated about that. It’s tough. But it makes you a better parent. I think it gives you a better perspective on what really matters and how you can make them better people as well.”
Hunter-Reay acknowledges the old adage that parenting is the most important job that a person is the most unprepared for in life.
“Yeah no doubt, there’s no course, there’s no classes in it, at least we didn’t take any,” he said. “You kind of go with your instinct. That’s the beautiful thing about it. A bond with your child is one that lets you grow with them as a person and, like I said, you just go with your instincts and try and lead them the right way.”
He reflects on his parents and what they instilled in him and tries to do the same.
“I think I’m like him in that I’m resilient, I don’t give up, tenacious,” he said of his father. “I can only hope I’m as good to my kids as my dad was to me. He absolutely focused 110 percent on me and my racing, very selfless. That’s the way I want to be with my kids. Obviously my time right now is shared between them and racing, but yeah, when I’m home I’m with them about every moment.”
What specifically does he try to teach his three boys?
“Just the work ethic,” he said. “There really is no such thing as a free lunch. You’ve got to to go out there and earn everything, and instilling the work ethic in them at an early age, or just that lesson that you never give up, I think that’s important.”
But most of the time, for now, is spent on various activities that keep the Hunter-Reays busy. Ryan says his oldest son, Ryden, is into racing about 95 percent of the time and plays football and hockey the other 5 percent of the time. That is, when the boys aren’t in the water.
That passion for racing is shared by all three.
“The other two love racing, too,” Ryan said. “That’s all they do, play with their Hot Wheels and do their RC (radio controlled) cars. They’re non-stop, all three of them on their RC cars, every day at the track in the RC cars.
“I think we have like 15 of ‘em. I should open an RC shop because all I do is repair ’em and constantly tweak ’em and work ’em to make ’em go faster.”
INDYCAR.com will spend the next several Mondays profiling the NTT IndyCar Series drivers who are fathers. Next week: Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.