Tyler Shaw drives for the fun of it, and he wins

Tyler Shaw drives for the fun  of it, and he wins
Mexico's Tyler Shaw with his winning ride outside of Ken's Fast Lube. Shaw works with his father at the garage all week and drives on Friday nights. [Dave Faries]
By: 
Dave Faries
Editor

A thought flashes through Tyler Shaw’s mind every time he turns the steering wheel. Will the tires stick through the corner or will the car break loose and skid into the driver racing alongside him.

“You’re hoping you’re not tearing much up,” he said with a grin. “None of us like to do sheet metal work.”

So Shaw’s concerns are practical and meant for after the race. Banging up the car just adds to the week’s chores.

Yet while he’s tearing through the corners of the dirt track at Moberly’s Randolph County Raceway on Friday nights, the Mexico-based driver doesn’t hold back. He’s been known to dive into narrow gaps between two cars or between another car and the menacing outer wall in order to gain a position.

Last year he won four races and took home the track championship. With the racing season just underway, he is looking to continue his successful run.

Shaw drives an A Mod — a race car stripped to its bare essentials to take full advantage of grip and power. It’s the top class for modifieds featured at the track.

But he also works full time at his father’s shop, Ken’s Fast Lube in Mexico. Racing is a hobby, and one that takes a toll in time and effort.

“Once the season starts it’s go, go, go,” Shaw explained. “You work until 5 and then until 9 or 10. It’s a second job.”

It can be both an expensive and consuming second job. The race car has special needs, from rugged suspension parts to a purpose built engine, safety equipment and 118 octane fuel.

“It’s a nose burner,” Shaw said with a chuckle.

There is also a pick up truck and long trailer to maintain. And there are the long nights mending banged up sheet metal or replacing worn parts.

They purchased the engine from Hagedorn Racing Engines. But Shaw and his father have had their hands in everything else related to the car, from chassis to hitting the phone seeking sponsors.

Some of the logos adorning the bodywork are from companies one might expect to see on a local A Mod — A-1 Towing, for example, or Graf & Sons. But there is also Puppy Cuts, Tacos & Tequila, Star Farms Fertilizer and others.

For Shaw, the payoff is in the Friday night adrenaline rush as the green flag waves, but also in what he calls the “big chess game.”

Race tracks — particularly dirt tracks — can be fickle. And race cars can be equally temperamental when conditions are not to their liking. Much of what a driver and mechanics do involve what they call “dialing in” a car.

Shaw’s racing strategy can change from night to night, even between heat races and the feature race, as more and more rubber packs down the dirt.

“It depends on what the car’s going to do that night,” he said. “It may want to run high or low.”

Chasing the car and the track — the race within the race — is compelling. It’s part of what drives Shaw and his father.

And it can pay off in big ways.

“Last year we changed a few little things on the car,” Shaw explained. “It made a drastic difference.”

Shaw expects to race every Friday that United States Racing Association A-Mods are on the Randolph County Raceway schedule.

And while his second job — his consuming hobby — started on four wheelers in motocross and then to Hornets and B Mods, Shaw says he’s settled on A Mods.

Except …

“It would be fun to get in a sprint car,” he said, laughing. “As long as I’m the only one on the track.”

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