NEWARK VALLEY, N.Y. – Article By RaceChaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker – Photo Courtesy Tyler Rypkema –
There probably weren’t too many Oswego Speedway race fans who knew very much about Tyler Rypkema when he showed up at the fast 5/8-mile to race at the Richie Evans Memorial a couple of weeks ago.
The easygoing 17-year-old from Newark Valley, New York introduced himself in true racer’s style. He won his heat race and finished a competitive fifth place in the 75-lap feature. All this while battling a stomach bug that kept him under the weather all week. Some in his camp didn’t even want him to race due to his illness.
He turned on his selective hearing, got in his sharp looking No. 32 and showed the fans he has the ability to race and succeed in the RoC (Race of Champions) Modified Tour alongside his father (Dean) and some of the best in the business.
Tyler grew up in a racing family and began his career racing in a New York State exclusive division called “Microds” (similar to a Quarter-Midget) at tracks of about 1/8-mile or shorter. He and his sister Mikayla were both winners and champions across the state in the Microds, a division that also lays claim to being the launching pad for the career of NASCAR Nationwide Series racer and past Sprint Cup Series winner Regan Smith.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Tyler jumped into a “B-Mod”, a limited version of a full-blood NASCAR-style Modified that is similar to what those in New England know as an “SK Modified”. It didn’t take too long for him to establish himself in the big-boy cars.
Tyler ended his time in that class last year as a multi-time race winner and track champion at the Shangri-La II Speedway. He then prepared for his next step up the racing ladder for this season – a move to the RoC Modified division and the right to compete against his father and other well-seasoned chauffeurs including “Money” Matt Hirschman, Chuck Hossfeld and Tommy Cloce.
In just his third start in the higher horsepower car, Tyler showed up at Oswego, emerged from the shadows of the “Steel Palace” and stole the show by pulling off a top five finish that had the divisions insiders as much abuzz about him afterward as they did about winner Hirschman.
Humble and thankful, Tyler is quick to put the brakes on the notion that the run was much more than one good day. But those in attendance who have watched racing awhile know they saw a glimpse of the potential this young man has and the competitive fire inside his belly that erased any consideration of letting his illness get the checkered flag.
I caught up with Tyler after the Oswego race and the audio which follows is from our Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show on May 28th. If you missed that show, you can hear the interview just by clicking the play button on the player below!