Roahrig Finds Fun Factor In Return To Winged Sprint Car Racing
ANDERSON, Ind. – Even before he laid a tire onto the race track for Friday's Must See Racing Sprint Car Series practice night at Anderson Speedway, Tyler Roahrig was already all smiles.
It had been three years since he had strapped into a winged asphalt sprint car to go racing, but the feel came back right away for the 28-year-old from Mishawaka, Ind.
Tyler Roahrig at speed during practice Friday at Anderson Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)
The joy didn't go away, either, even if Roahrig was admittedly "still in non-winged mode" during his first run of hot laps at the quarter-mile, high-banked paved oval.
"Man, I forgot how much fun to drive these things are," Roahrig said after climbing from the Wayne Stickney-owned No. 99. "It's been three years, and this practice has already reminded me how much I missed these winged cars are, especially at this place. I'm already having a blast with these guys."
Roahrig noted that there was a certain aggression factor in driving the winged car versus the non-winged car that he had to readjust to between the first and second sessions on Friday.
"I've been so used to running without the wing here the last few years that I forgot how hard you could really run these things with the wing on top," Roahrig noted. "The first session, I was still a little bit out to lunch, I guess you'd say, but the second session we picked up three or four tenths ... and that was pretty much all me as the driver running it harder.
"But I really did forget how much enjoyment there is in running these things," he continued. "It's been since 2016 that I've run a winged car in the (United) States, and I'm really enjoying being back."
Roahrig noted that his partnership with the Stickney Racing Team came in large part due to a race in his home state that never ended up happening because of a washout last fall.
Tyler Roahrig smiles in the pit area during Must See Racing Sprint Car Series practice Friday at Anderson Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)
"Wayne got ahold of me last year and wanted me to run a race in Fort Wayne at Baer Field (Motorsports Park), because I was going to be there anyways with my late model," Roahrig recalled. "That race rained out, unfortunately, but we kept in touch over the winter and decided to come here for our first race of the season.
"I think we fit well together as a team, because these guys are serious racers, just like I am. They want to win, they work hard on their car and I know it's a good piece," he added. "A lot of good racers have not only driven this car, but won in it, and I hope I can be the next one to add my name to that list."
Though he likely won't contest the full Must See Racing Sprint Car Series schedule and contend for rookie-of-the-year honors due to a handful of late model conflicts, Roahrig does expect to race a good number of series events this season with Stickney's team, including at least the first two events.
Roahrig also hopes to head east for the doubleheader weekend at Hillside Buffalo Speedway in Holland, N.Y., in late July, as well as hit the Border Wars doubleheader at Michigan's Owosso Speedway and Ohio's Sandusky Speedway in late August.
"I think we'll definitely do a few more," he noted. "It'll kind of be on a week-to-week basis, but I'm really excited to race with these guys. Basically, I'm going to run the (No.) 99 car whenever I can. Whenever my schedule allows and their schedule allows is when you'll see us.
"We could do anywhere around 10 races, I can't really say for sure. We'll see what happens."
One thing was clear on Friday, though. Roahrig's love for being back in a sprint car was virtually unmatched by any other force in the Anderson pit area, and he was quick to explain why, as well.
"Sprint cars are just a raw form of motorsports, in my opinion," Roahrig noted. "They're pretty simple and it's just about whatever it takes to be fast, is how a sprint car is built ... compared to a late model, anyways. My family actually started out in open-wheel cars, running in supermodifieds and sprints, so I've always been drawn to them. It has just taken me a while to be able to do it regularly.
"I love sprint car racing, though, and I have ever since I was a little kid. It's good to be back."
Saturday's racing program will be headlined by the Must See Racing sprint cars, with the Mel Kenyon Midget Series, late models, Legend cars and Midwest Champ Carts also on the racing card.
Pit gates will open at 3:30 p.m. local time, with rotating practice beginning at 5 p.m. Qualifying will start at 6:30 p.m. and racing will begin at 8 p.m., immediately following opening ceremonies.
The full night of racing will be broadcast live via pay-per-view on SpeedShiftTV.com, as well as recorded for tape-delay broadcast on MAVTV through the award-winning SPEED SPORT television series.
USAC infield reporter Georgia Henneberry will be the pit reporter for the SPEED SPORT telecast.
For more information on Must See Racing, visit the series on the web at www.mustseeracing.com.
Series Announcer for Must See Racing