Tyler Speer spent all day Wednesday going over the car he'll be driving in the Herr's Potato Chips 100 Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairground mile dirt in Springfield. The Woodstock, Georgia champion boat racer hasn’t driven an ARCA car in nearly a year. Good thing it's just "like riding a bicycle."
"It'd be better if we ran more but once we get into practice, it's just like riding a bicycle," said Speer. "It's been almost a year…I'm looking forward to it."
Speer spent all day Wednesday at Andy Hillenburg's Fast Track racing shop in North Carolina investigating the composite car he'll be wheeling at both Springfield and DuQuoin.
"We just went over the set-up…did our normal nut and bolt check...making sure everything's ready."
Living up to their class moniker, Pro Outlaw came down to a duel between Speer's aptly-named "Georgia Outlaw" and Rick Blethroade's "Wild Thing," with Speer screaming away, unopposed, to a 6.404 at 123.66 mph to win the race.
"It was an awesome day," Speer said. "I couldn’t be happier with everybody who helped out: Lucas Oil Racing TV, Hedman Husler Hedders and Georgia Outlaw. You know, we bumped up a class so we have no notes to go off of. I know we got a little bit of luck this weekend.
"We need to do a little bit better on the tune up. Dad did an awesome job tuning this weekend though, getting us right, so I can’t thank him enough. Mom, Dad everybody. This is what we need to be doing, making it to the finals and winning races. We'll just take one at a time."
Speer, the top qualifier, beat Phoenix winner Cole Allen, sport kingpin Tommy Thompson, and got a bye run to the final against Blethroade. His quickest run came against Thompson when he blistered the course with a 5.527 at 160.93 mph.
By: Rob Geiger
PARKER, Arizona (Apr. 15, 2017)
In the auto-racing universe, there’s a stock car series known as ARCA, formally known as the Automobile Racing Club of America. Naturally, this professional league has its own website, its own speed heroes and, inevitably, its own articles about the sport and its racers. A few years ago, ARCA published a feature story about its rising star, Tyler Speer. After rattling off some of his accomplishments, the story asked: “Did you know that when Speer isn’t in pursuit of his stock-car career, he’s often at the helm of a wicked-fast hydro racing boat in the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series?”
Speedboat magazine might well ask the reverse question: Did you know that when Speer isn’t targeting the Lucas Oil World Championship trophy, he’s also racing on dirt and asphalt—sometimes during the same season?
It’s true. Speer has been pulling double-duty on the track and on the water, and his hard work has paid off in spades—especially on the liquid quarter mile.
The son of dragboat racer Tim Speer (founder of the Woodstock, GA-based service center ProBoat), Tyler began racing go-karts at the age of 12. He moved into the Allison Legacy Series when he turned 15, where he won one event and finished fourth in the championship points during the 2009 season. He launched his ARCA career in 2010 and has competed all over the country, including events like the Super Chevy Store 100 in Springfield, IL, the Talladega Aarons Dream Weekend in Lincoln, AL, and the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
Embarking on his amphibious racing career, Speer rapidly adapted to the change of scenery, qualifying first in his debut race and winning races shortly thereafter. By season’s end, Speer and his Amphibious Motorsports team had earned a seventh-place finish in their first full Lucas Oil Drag Boats season. Speer spent 2015 honing and perfecting his boat-racing skills, then returned last year with eagerness and enthusiasm, juggling both auto and boat races—sometimes having to really hustle to make it to back-to-back events. His 2016 Lucas Oil season astonished many when he entered the World Finals in Phoenix with a narrow points lead—and then went on to finish the event as World Champion. Pro Modified class is arguably the toughest class in drag boat racing, and the 2016 finals participants included three racers with a World Championship on the line. Speer and his #410 Climax boat maintained a tight lead over Kevin Helm in Tommy Thompson’s Fist Full of Dollars and Jimmy Booher’s Hillbilly Express . Despite encountering several mechanical gremlins and speed bumps during the qualifying runs, Speer tackled every problem head on to capture the title when both Booher and Helm went out in earlier rounds.
Following his win, Speedboat caught up with Speer in the Lucas Oil booth as he signed autographs during the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Indianapolis last December. (His Top Fuel boat Shockwave was the main attraction in the Hedman Husler Hedders booth.) We asked him about his multifaceted racing career and his plans for the future.
“What a feeling…we’re still taking it all in. This is only our second year…this is so huge,” Speer said. “It was a tough weekend dealing with everything but one thing we didn’t have to worry about was fuel. We can always count on VP’s M1 Methanol to be pure, free of contaminants and consistent, which is critical to racing in the Pro Mod class. I’ve used VP fuels since my youngest days in karting and our experience is that octane for octane, VP fuels make more power and are the most consistent. They’re an essential part of our program.”
Tyler Speer had four rounds to figure out his "tune". After a rough way to go over a weekend that kept his team on edge till the very end, Speer finally figured it out. A day after the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series World Finals in Phoenix, Arizona, the Woodstock, Georgia driver/pilot is singing the happy tune of world champion.
"We had a rough weekend, but we sewed it up," Speer said driving home cross-country Monday morning.
"Up until we actually clinched it, it wasn't looking bright in our direction."
It's looking a lot brighter now, however, as Speer woke up Monday morning as the 2016 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series World Champion in the Pro Modified class, having clinched the title late Sunday at Wild Horse Motorsports Park.
Speer experienced a dramatic four rounds of qualifying Friday and Saturday, made even more tense by the series of events that would haunt him till the very end. Keep in mind, in the professional Drag Boat world, there is no such thing as practice.
"You get two rounds of qualifying Friday, and two rounds Saturday...then you race on Sunday. You've got four laps...four passes to figure out your tune."
That means you had better have your act together when you line up for your qualifying rounds.
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards racer Tyler Speer is prepared to put it all on the line this weekend. Or, better put, put it all on the water...the warm water at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona in the Lucas Oil Drag Boat World Finals.
Speer, who has a commanding lead in the Pro Mod class, can secure the 2016 championship this Sunday, November 6. Speer first took over the championship points lead on the same day of the ARCA race on the DuQuoin Mile Dirt where he finished seventh on the lead lap.
"We had to race that exact same day in the boat races in Wheatland, Missouri," said Speer. "We ended up renting a little puddle-jumper plane to get to DuQuoin."
Speer's tardiness at DuQuoin did not affect his performance, as the Woodstock, Georgia driver steered the No. 10 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series-Lucas Oil TV Chevrolet to seventh in the final running order. Speer had also finished, two weeks prior, seventh on the Springfield Mile Dirt. Both finishes tied his ARCA career-best.
"We qualified No. 1 in the Pro Mod deal (at Wheatland) and won the first round. We had motor issues in the second round which was better for the ARCA races. Even not going in the second round, we just made it to DuQuoin. Our first lap at DuQuoin was in qualifying.