SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Veteran racer Brian Tyler is returning to the USAC Silver Crown scene as a full-time competitor for the first time since 2013 this season, as the 54-year-old is set to run all 11 races for BCR Group.
Tyler made his Silver Crown debut in 1990 and has since totaled 201 career starts, which is tied for most all-time. The Michigan native remembers where he came from, especially in his role becoming a mentor for younger racers of late.
“I was the kid one day who ran wide open and then was beaten on experience by the old guy. Now, it’s my turn to do that,” Tyler said. “I enjoy talking to these kids and giving them advice. If they ask me a question, I straight up give them the best answer I can because I had an older guy do that for me when I was coming up. People ask me why I do that when I’ve got to race against them.
“I’m at the end of my career and they’re beginning theirs. If I pass this information on to them, hopefully it’ll save them a little bit on the learning curve. All I expect of them when they get to be my age is that they’ll pass it on to the next kid.”
Tyler still has plenty left in the tank. His first start for the Ohio-based BCR team last September resulted in a victory at the Magic Mile of the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds dirt-track. Two starts later, he finished third for the team in the season finale on the pavement at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway.
“When I walk through the gates of a racetrack, look around and think ‘I’ve got as good of a chance winning as anybody here,’” Tyler said. “I said I’m going to keep doing it. When I walk through the gates, look around and think, ‘I hope I can run 10th today,’ it’s probably going to be the last run.”
BCR Group’s majority owner, crew chief, builder and designer, Malcolm Lovelace, relishes the opportunity to work with Tyler, whose 18 career Silver Crown wins ranks third all-time.
Lovelace, a veteran of 36 career USAC National Sprint Car starts as a driver in the 1970s and 80s, was out of the sport for a while, but over the last seven years has built the team into one of the top contenders.
But without any Silver Crown experience behind the wheel as a driver, Lovelace admitted he’s had to learn the cars from scratch.
Enter Tyler, who’s freely swapped ideas with Lovelace during their three-race stint and throughout the winter as they prepare for the full season ahead.
“Brian has taught me so much about these cars and everything; he and I think along the same lines, and I can understand what he’s telling me,” Lovelace said. “He’s probably one of the best teachers there’s ever been. He helped Kody Swanson when he came up, Tyler Roahrig, and a lot of other guys. Just by having him around for a few races, it’s been tremendous.”
Tyler enjoys solving the puzzle together, as a team, and searching to do things the right way.
“I think some of my knowledge is going to help them on the pavement and some of what they know is going to help me on the dirt,” Tyler said. “I’m used to running a coil car on the dirt, but they run a bar car, so I’ll have to relearn that a little bit. What we did at Du Quoin seemed to work pretty well. It’s going to be a give and take, and I think it’s a team that can contend for a championship.
“Malcolm’s easy to get along with and when we sit down to talk about setups and what our game plan is, I can go to him and tell him, ‘I’ve done this and it’s worked really well for me,’ and he can come to me and say, ‘I’ve done this and it’s worked really well for us. We hash things over and can get together and come up with the best solution and go for it. He’s not afraid to try something new and neither am I.”
Tyler holds the record for the most consecutive Silver Crown starts (97 starts between 2005-13) and will take over the number one spot in all-time starts this year, but one thing that has eluded him is a Silver Crown championship. Tyler would like to change that and add a title next to his 1996 and ’97 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championships.
“A (Silver Crown) championship would be fun because it has gotten away from me so many times,” Tyler said. “But our main goal is to go and be competitive every race. If we do that, and win some races, the points will come. I’m not saying I’m going to come out of the box and be a points chaser. I’m going to run every race like it’s my only race and we’ll take what we get at the end of the end of the year.”
The USAC Silver Crown season begins on the dirt at Terre Haute on May 1. The pavement portion of the schedule kicks off on May 27 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Ind.