Great Lakes Edition: Rankin and Wheeler to Tackle the Interstate Racing Association in 2024

Tylar Rankin. (T.J. Buffenbarger photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(December 17, 2023) — The next step in Tylar Rankin’s career became evident on Monday with the announcement of Greg Wheeler Motorsports taking Rankin on the road to compete with the Interstate Racing Association next season.

The 28-year-old driver from Coldwater, Michigan will end up taking on the same tour Wheeler did behind with his race team as the driver in the late 90’s.

For Rankin and Wheeler the foundation for such an announcement was built when the team decided to sell their 360 cubic inch engines and focus on 410 sprint car competition. In turn that led to some trips to compete with IRA halfway through the 2023 season.

“We ran like six times in a row with the IRA deal at places like Plymouth, Wilmot, and Angel Park. Some of the IRA core tracks we tried to hit to give us a good opportunity to have at least some idea of the racetracks that we’re going to be racing on. It lent a helping hand for us to make the decision everywhere we have gone that’s been new for me it’s been an easy transition. We seem to show up at new places and be able to hit the ground running where I felt like maybe in years past, I hadn’t been able to do that.”

By the time Rankin’s six starts with IRA were complete, the direction the team wanted to head in became clear.

“We kind of knew at the end of the season last year that this was a route we really wanted to go. We needed to see what the schedules looked like and if it made sense to go do it. We pretty much knew by PRI that was what we were going to do.”

Competing with IRA next season is just part of an ambitious plan for the team to travel more with the goal of competing in some of the premier events in sprint car racing, acquiring some additional equipment to be competitive on larger racetracks.

“We are going to start dabbling into the half mile stuff. We added some power plants to the to the stable so that stuff like that can start to transpire. Hopefully we get to play on some bigger stages and get to dabble with a half mile stuff.”

“Our previous seasons we’ve ran about 45 shows with intent to run 50, so we will have some opportunities to go play elsewhere. I think that’s kind of where the half mile stuff will kind of come into place. Where exactly will be at, I don’t know. We will be coming back to Butler maybe two or three times, especially with the High Limit deal coming there. Outside of that I think it just depends on what’s going on, where races are, and what makes the most sense. I think that one of the bigger tracks that it seems like people need a lot of time to acclimate and get good at is probably Knoxville. We’ve had conversations around it, and I think there’s a pretty good chance we may be able to get out there this year.”

For Rankin, being able to land an opportunity like this after coming up through the ranks in a family effort with a shoestring budget, is a dream come true.

“As a young kid if you said that I was going to get the opportunity to semi travel race, I would have probably laughed because you don’t normally get opportunities to do stuff like this being in Michigan. I’m looking forward to it.”


• Now that the national sprint car series schedules are set several regional and local schedules are starting to come out.

The pavement side of the schedule is set with Must See Racing and the 500 Sprint Car tour making schedule announcements.

Must See is making stops at Berlin Raceway, Birch Run Raceway, and Owosso Speedway. The Must See Racing Lites also have a stand alone date at Corrigan Oil Speedway on June 21st.

The 500 Sprint Car Tour has a two night run on Friday August 23rd at Kalamazoo before moving an hour north to Berlin Raceway on August 24th, making for a great weekend for pavement sprint car racing in the Mitten. The 500 Sprint Car Tour also has the first event for the series after the Little 500 on June 8th.

All these dates and more are listed on the Allstar Performance Open Wheel Calendar.

• One exciting change in Michigan is having the Berlin ISMA Supermodified weekend taking place the week before the Kings Royal thanks to a scheduling shift by Eldora Speedway. Now fans that want to see both events should be able to do so, making for a tremendous 10 day run of motorsports.

• The 350 Outlaw Supermodified/Sprint Car Series released their 2024 schedule with pair surprise dates in the Mitten. June 1st the series will go to Flat Rock Speedway, a rarity for open wheel cars the past 20 years or so at the level pebble. The series will also appear at M-40 Speedway on August 10th.

• On the dirt side of the schedule nothing has been officially released yet other than the High Limit Sprint Car Series date at Butler Motor Speedway June 1st. Great Lakes Super Sprints officials indicate their schedule is close to being complete and are waiting for a couple of tracks situations to be clarified so it can be made public.