Short-Track Top Five: Tyler Reddick
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Short-Track Top Five. Every week NSSN will talk to a different short-track driver and get his or her thoughts and opinions on a series of five questions.
This week National Speed Sport News talks to dirt-late-model competitor Tyler Reddick. Nicknamed the California Kid, 14-year-old Reddick is already a veteran racer. In 2009, he became the youngest driver to make a feature in World of Outlaws Late Model Series history.
The following year Reddick made history again by becoming the youngest driver to win a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series heat race. He also has experience racing midgets, 410 sprint cars, mini sprint cars and outlaw karts. He owns 12 championships and three national titles from various touring divisions and series.
NSSN: What influenced you to become a race car driver?
REDDICK: When I grew up I grew up watching my dad race. My dad has always been a big racer at heart. When I grew up I always watched him race. I watched him race from when I was a little boy when and I was first born up until I was four and I thought, ‘That was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ And you know what? It definitely is. I really enjoyed watching my dad race and my dad noticed that I enjoyed watching him race so much. He eventually asked me, ‘Son, do you want to race?’ And I said, ‘Heck yeah, of course I would.’
It took a little while, but I guess it was fate. We weren’t really good when we started out. It took a couple years, but once we got the hang of the cars. Me and my dad being together and learning this whole deal was awesome. Being able to stay with my family is a good thing. My family is really tight because of the racing and that is really important to me. So I feel that racing has been a big part of our family and I’m glad we did the racing.
NSSN: If you had the chance to race in the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500, which would it be and why?
REDDICK: Well, that’s a tough one. Basically it’s a question between NASCAR or IndyCar. I’ve got more experience with dirt circle-track racing, and Indianapolis is a circle-track race, too, but I’d probably go with the Daytona 500. It’s a really tough one though. I’d really like to do the Indy 500, too. Actually, you know what, it’s a touch choice. But if you wanted an answer it’d probably be the Daytona 500.
NSSN: How healthy is short-track racing in the United States?
REDDICK: The economy is definitely hurting it right now. I can tell racing has been hurt a little bit by the economy. I think a lot of the local racing has been hurt. A lot of the big series, like World of Outlaws, Lucas [Late Models], O’Reilly Southern All-Stars, have been able to overcome it mainly because they have a lot of top drivers following their series. The economy is definitely hurt us, but I think hopefully it’ll make a quick turnaround. I’m sure the sport will survive this. We’ll overcome it and this thing will be over before you know it.
NSSN: What is the wildest race you’ve ever been a part of?
REDDICK: West Plains [Motor Speedway] and Knoxville [Raceway] are probably two of the fastest race tracks I’ve ever been on in my life. If something is going to go wrong, it is going to go wrong really bad, really fast there at West Plains or Knoxville. Really both are really good tracks, I really enjoy them both a lot. I had a lot better luck at West Plains then we did Knoxville. At Knoxville we had motor problems, but at West Plains we didn’t have any problems and we ran really good. We qualified really well but then just had a little bad luck and a little bit of driver error.
NSSN: At the end of your career, what do you hope people will remember about you?
REDDICK: Hopefully they remember the kind and courteous side [of me], the only side I’ve ever known of myself. Hopefully they remember me for being the good kid I was raised up to be and not some little kid that just got the opportunity to run. It all came in time and hopefully they just remember that I’ve worked for everything I’ve ever had.