Tyler Dippel has been racing Slingshot race cars since the age of 8.
Someday driving a race car is a dream shared by many boys. Watching NASCAR races on television or in person can’t help but make a young man imagine the thrill of racing.
Other than driving small gasoline-powered cars on tracks at amusement parks or small raceways, competitive racing is something most youngsters never experience.
Tyler Dippel is an exception.
A sixth grader at Leptondale Elementary School in Wallkill, N.Y., Tyler already has four years experience competing in motor sports.
Tyler began racing Slingshot race cars when he was eight years old. Slingshot cars are scaled down versions of dirt modified race cars and are powered by 50-hp motors that run on alcohol/methanol based fuel. They can attain speeds to 70 mph and race on both dirt and paved tracks up to a quarter mile in length.
Tyler took to the sport right from the start.
“He’s a natural,” experienced drivers have told Tyler’s parents.
At the age of 10, Tyler won the 2010 Junior National Slingshot Championship, winning five of eight races on a tour of tracks he had never previously driven located from upstate New York to southern Pennsylvania.
At the end of the 2010 championship season, Tyler decided to move up to the Senior Slingshot Class, competing with experienced adult drivers, winning two of three events in the remaining senior season in races with car counts from 20 to 25 cars per event.
The 2011 racing season began with Tyler racing in both the Senior Slingshot Class and the Sportsman Class, competing with veterans, many of whom have been racing for 15 years and longer. Sportsman motors generate approximately 500 hp and can attain speeds of 120 mph when racing on longer tracks. These cars weigh 2,400 lbs. and are similar in size to NASCAR racers.
Tyler finished second in points in the Senior Class Empire Region Tour with events from New Hampshire to southern Pennsylvania. His first win in the Sportsman class came after only five races, and he finished in the top 10 of 15 races for the year and was second in points at his home track, Accord Speedway, in New York. Wallkill is located in the heart of the Hudson Valley near the Catskill Mountains approximately 70 mi. north of New York City.
Tyler was named Rookie of the Year in the Sportsman class, along with several awards in the Slingshot Class.
The 2012 season began with Tyler in the Sportsman Class. In March, he tried out the asphalt at the 2012 Florida Winter Nationals in a Legends Car. Other drivers observed that Tyler adapted quickly to the change and appears headed toward a promising racing career.
Tyler gains experience by visiting as many tracks as possible and has proved himself to be extraordinarily adaptable. He has been at tracks in New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida and Indiana. He has 49 career wins and has placed in the top five at most of the tracks he visits. He races as much as two to three times per week, when possible.
Reviewing Tyler’s accomplishments, it is difficult to believe he still is in the sixth grade.
“I keep ahead of my school work and always do extra when I have time,” Tyler said. “Sometimes I take the work to the track and do it between races and practices.”
Impressive as Tyler’s racing career is, he recognizes it is not just about him.
“Tyler is a very generous and caring soul,” said his mother. “On behalf of his sponsors, he has donated 50 percent of the thousands of dollars of his annual earnings to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an institution recognized for its treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. When he is old enough he wants to visit the children at the hospital, bring his cars, sign autographs and have pictures taken with the children.”
Tyler’s racing activities are sponsored by his father’s utility construction contracting firm, TyCar Trenchless Technologies.
Based in Wallkill, N.Y., TyCar Trenchless Technologies uses Ditch Witch products, including horizontal directional drilling (HDD) equipment, drilling fluid mixing equipment, and vacuum excavator equipment. The company installs underground utilities, including natural gas distribution lines and other underground utilities. TyCar employs horizontal directional drilling to install pipe and cable under streets and highways, streams and other water crossings, landscaped areas, and other surface obstructions where excavation is impractical or impossible.
“Tyler’s skill and positive energy propel him above the rest,” many in the racing circuit tell his parents. “His recognition stands out among others as he attracts crowds due to his talent, age and kindness to those less fortunate.”
What does Tyler think of his racing career so far, and what does he see in the future?
“I love this sport,” he said. “It has been a great experience to be able to race cars and travel to different tracks. I’ve been to more than 25 different tracks, but it’s not always a good finish. Sometimes your car gets wrecked or is not running right and you can’t get it to go faster and sometimes you don’t even finish the race at all. That’s the worst feeling but you have to take it. That’s racing.
“In 2012, I will compete in the ROC Tour and will be traveling to the border of Canada all throughout New York State and to southern Pennsylvania. In between ROC Tour breaks, I’m hoping to go to North Carolina to race in Legend Cars again. I want to be able to race both dirt and asphalt. I have two new cars with new motors ready to race. I can’t wait.
“Further ahead, I want to be a NASCAR driver and to be the youngest to ever win a race.”