If it has four wheels and goes fast, this kid is into it.
Witness professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler deftly defying gravity — and serious injury — rocketing around the grounds of his parents’ otherwise normal suburban Southern California home and it would be easy to stereotype him as a highflying young daredevil.
How many teenagers have a full-on skateboard park in their backyard or their very own tricked-out Range Rover HSE sport utility vehicle? None as far as Celebrity Car Magazine is concerned.
But it only takes a few minutes conversation to discover that Sheckler lives his life with both feet firmly planted — figuratively speaking, of course — on the ground.
“I feel like my parents have taught me to be properly grounded,” says the curlyheaded kid who spends most of his time with his family and neighborhood friends doing “normal teenage stuff.”
Sheckler was a mere 18 months old when his father’s old skateboard, hanging in the garage, caught his eye and he hopped aboard for a ride that would eventually lead to a gold medal at the 2003 X Games, a yearly competitive event dedicated to action sports such as skateboarding. Sheckler was 13 that year, which was also the year he turned pro. The following two years he was the World Cup of Skateboarding National Street Champion as well as the 2005 Dew Action Sports Tour Athlete of the Year.
Sheckler also credits his father for getting him hooked on performance vehicles.
“My dad’s always been into cars. He’s always had fast BMWs, but when I was 10 or 11, he was into bigger trucks . . . so now I’m fortunate to have the Range Rover and my new toy, the 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 6.7-liter diesel truck.”
The black Range Rover is a 2003 model that Ryan bought from his uncle. He has owned it about 18 months, about as long as he has had his license.
“I talked about it (Range Rovers) forever. I always liked my uncle’s Range Rover and he told me I could buy it once I had enough cash saved to pay for it. The range Rover had 20s and the dual-exhaust system when I got it. I had my (learner’s) permit, so I couldn’t drive it alone. So I sent it off to Wired for Sound in Temecula, California. They and one of my sponsors, Kicker, put in one of the gnarliest systems I’ve ever heard. We had to put in an extra battery to power all the electronics.”
The 7,000-watt audio system features four monster amplifiers and an equal number of 12-inch speakers, along with a Sony gaming console and seven TV monitors spread throughout the interior, done up in custom black leather and suede with Sheckler’s logo on the door panels.
Sheckler is well versed on the Range Rover’s off-road capabilities, but says that his vehicle will never leave the pavement so as to protect its 24-inch wheels.
“But the (Dodge) truck, we romp it pretty hard.”
Sheckler initially had his eyes on a Dodge 1500 Ram pickup, but his dad suggested he “step up” and get the heftier 2500 with the 6.7-liter diesel engine.
“I was on an eight-week waiting list and when I finally got the truck I drove it about 400 miles in four days before it went to Orange County Diesel in Huntington Beach, (Calif.).”
Sheckler got it back about six weeks later after it underwent a serious trophytruck transformation with the installation of the 6.5-inch lift kit, new gearing, performance intake and exhaust, off-road shocks and suspension and 22-inch wheels with 37-inch-tall tires. Also contributing to the off-road look are flared fiberglass fenders.
Interior changes include upgraded speakers and amps for a sound system that is a bit more subdued than that of the Range Rover, but Sheckler says it “hits really hard for the smaller space the truck does have.”
In case you need additional clues that Sheckler’s interest is to do some serious off-road racing, be advised that fellow X Games competitor Travis Pastrana is a close buddy. Pastrana has demonstrated that his daring two-wheel skills transfer easily to four wheels with impressive drives in professional rally events.
“I want to race Travis,” Sheckler says. “Anything that you can go fast and jump, I’m in. My goal is to get in a rally car and beat him, so I have a lot of work to do because he’s really fast.”
As for his other future plans, the 18-year-old says that he “feels blessed to have everything I have” and that when he gets to be a ripe, old 23 or 24 he will “take it down a notch to enjoy what I’ve worked so hard for, not so much retire but live it up for a year before I come back into it strong.”
When quizzed about vehicles he has his eye on down the road, Sheckler jumps to answer, “The Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari F430 are the only cars I have my eyes on, but I have a lot of work to do to get those.”
Not bragging, but exuding the quiet confidence and commitment he has toward doing what he loves to do, he adds, “I’ll be 21 before I can probably get them.”