by TJ Slideways
Brian Tyler made his first big splash on the USAC sprint car tour with his strange haircut and getting into a fight with then USAC champion Steve Butler. Tyler made a bigger splash in 1995 by winning a USAC TV race in the Contos racing backup car. This lead to a full time sprint car ride and two USAC sprint car titles and a test for Tredway racing’s IRL car. After this whirlwind ride to the top, many people just have one question:
“Where in the world did this guy come from?”
Brian has been racing since he was 13 years old. That is when Tyler strapped into a full-blown Open Wheel Modified at the Butler Motor Speedway. Older brother Bill Tyler had raced USAC and with the then new Sprints on Dirt series. Many in the Michigan racing circles know it would not take long for Bill’s little brother to follow in his footsteps.
Brian Tyler’s early cars would not win any best appearing car contests. During mid 80’s, Bill had one of the sharpest cars in the area. The yellow Pinball Wizard sponsored car was seen all over the state. There was also a yellow, white, and sliver colored car at the same races. Other early rides included the Hummel sprint car, and a second car to Bill on the Drakes Batter Mix car. Brian definitely paid his dues in these cars. One time at I-96 Speedway a plug came out of the motor and burned Tyler’s feet with hot water. Another time Brian was leading a race a Michigan Ideal Speedway with push so bad he might as well have plowing snow. After driving the wheels off to stay out front his brother Bill got by with three laps to go for the win.
Brian’s luck started to turn better when he hooked up with the Stone racing team. The Stones had one of the top pavement sprint cars in the Midwest, and within a year began with their new driver. When the team purchased a dirt car from the Fox racing team, Tyler had equipment to compete with any group in the country. Strong runs included winning countless SOD races on pavement and dirt, leading more than half of an All Star show at the I-96 Speedway before a tire equalized and had to settle for a top five finish. Tyler also had a pair of top ten finishes at the Eldora Speedway’s All Star finale after trashing a car two weeks before at the Four Crown Nationals.
Bad luck seemed follow Tyler again in 1995 when Stones parked their car and was left looking for a ride. Bouncing through many rides Contos called and wanted Brian to drive their backup car. A win on TV secured a ride for next season. Tyler won the USAC sprint car title two years in a row, and in 1996 won races at Lawerenceburg, Winchester, and Eldora.
One thing many people didn’t know about the Contos deal was Brian didn’t have the best equipment. The motors were quite often were very worn, and fielded his dirt car painted in Contos colors. Even with all of these things going against Brian, he had seen worse and battle through to win races and championships. After leaving Contos Tyler won the Orlando Sliver Crown race, the IRL called with a ride on a race to race basis, but still had no solid sprint car ride.
Just before the season was to begin at the Eldora Speedway this weekend, famed car owner Bob Hampshire hooked up Tyler with a sprint car ride. Hamp’s famous #63 sprinter has a Ford engine, which is also the powerplant of choice for Tyler’s sliver crown car. Brian also has a new shop in Anderson, Indiana to house his pavement car.
Things are now very solid for Brian Tyler. Like many situations in this crazy racing deal, things work out themselves out. One thing I know for sure is I’ve been on the Brian Tyler bandwagon since the days of running his brother’s cast off equipment and everyone back here in Michigan is proud of him. Brian has brought something to the season opener at Eldora Open Wheel Fans haven’t heard in years, “See the future stars and current stars of the Indy 500”. Good luck Brian, everyone on your bandwagon is behind out. Even if it’s starting to get a little more crowded.