By Richie Murray – USAC Media
SPEEDWAY, IN-He’s conquered several of the biggest pavement late model races. He’s twice prevailed in the Little 500 in each of the past two years.
Now, Tyler Roahrig aims for success in the USAC Silver Crown series in 2023 as he goes full-time with the champ cars on both dirt and pavement with Legacy Autosport.
The Plymouth, Ind. native has made three career Silver Crown series starts over the past two seasons, finishing on the podium in two out of three, which ain’t bad.
However, growing up in the pavement late model ranks and racing alongside his father, J.R. Roahrig, Tyler won anywhere and everywhere from Toledo to New Paris, Kalamazoo, Angola, Berlin, Midvale, Spartan, Plymouth, South Bend and even in Canada, just to name a few places.
Coming of age in a fendered environment, Roahrig never expected to be in an opportunity to chase a USAC Silver Crown championship and Rookie of the Year honors. In 2023, that’s exactly what will happen.
“It’s nothing I really forecasted,” Roahrig said with chuckle. “Even with the background I come from, I’ve always loved sprint car racing. I did the quarter midget thing when I was a kid, but my dad was a late model racer, so that’s the direction we went. When I got old enough to make my own decisions, I started to stray off into the open wheel route. Even then, it’s nothing I really saw coming even when I built my own sprint car. I thought I’d just run the Anderson (sprint car) races here and there. It’s been a pretty cool journey.”
The 13-race USAC Silver Crown slate in the coming year features a diverse blend of pavement and dirt events. Certainly, the pavement is where Roahrig has excelled throughout his career, but he has attained dirt experience, albeit in brief doses, but one of those starts includes a victory.
Roahrig estimated he possesses about five or six dirt UMP Modified starts, winning at Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway in October of 2021. His lone open wheel experience on dirt came all the way back in 2011 in a USAC D1 Regional Midget event at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, finishing fifth for owner Larry Gardner in a car that had no power steering.
With that said, not only is the dirt aspect a new test that the 31-year-old Roahrig will face in 2023, portions of the pavement side of the equation will also be new to him. He’s never been to World Wide Technology Raceway or Madison International Speedway, and his only previous experiences at Winchester Speedway have come in a late model. Roahrig embraces the challenge and has some good teachers on his side to help guide him along the way.
“The dirt is going to be a huge challenge,” Roahrig acknowledged. “It’s all going to be challenging from a driver standpoint and on the set-up side of things. But I’ve got some really good guys to lean on. I’ve got Brian Gerster who is going to go to most of the races with me and is going to coach me on the dirt and Brian Tyler has also taken me under his wing over the last couple of years, and he’s obviously a really good one to lean on too. They all act like the dirt’s no big deal, but we’ll see!”
While many outside observers may have thought that Roahrig and Legacy’s run in the final race of the 2022 Silver Crown season at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park was a trial run of sorts to get their feet wet and ready to go in 2023, they were soon mistaken. Roahrig and the team were out to win.
As it turned out, their performance turned many heads as Roahrig raced his way from ninth to a third place result, finishing just one spot behind his personal best career series showing, a second at IRP in 2021. Roahrig discovered many lessons throughout the 100-lap distance last fall, both about himself as well as the car. While he admitted that he still has a lot to learn, he also warns us that we haven’t seen anything yet.
“I learned a lot,” Roahrig said about his run during the October 2022 race. “We tested there in early October and the car was really good. I kind of struggled a little bit with the set-up on race day, which was 100 percent on me, but in the race, we moved up quite a bit and we even lost a cylinder toward the end of it. It wasn’t looking so great before the feature, but we just kind of maintained early on, then moved up. It’s different how the car progresses throughout the race, the way the balance trends one way or another and the way it’s different after restarts compared to a longer run. There were a lot of positives, but I don’t think we’ve even come close to our full potential yet.”
As Roahrig looks to score his first career USAC victory in 2023, there’s already been a Roahrig in winner’s circle. In 1973, Tyler’s great uncle, Dave Roahrig, captured a USAC National Sprint Car feature win on the pavement at Tri-County Speedway in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dave nailed down the win in a rear-engined machine, which was soon outlawed, along with all other cars of the sort in the series, shortly thereafter.
Tyler will utilize a Legacy chassis on pavement and a DRC chassis on dirt with Stanton Racing Engines underneath the hood.
The owner of Legacy Autosport, Louis Michael Meyer, is the great grandson of Louis Meyer, the first three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and the first to celebrate a 500 win with milk in victory lane.
2023 USAC SILVER CROWN SCHEDULE
Apr 16: TBA
Apr 23: (P) (A) Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park | Brownsburg, IN | Hoosier Hundred | $25,000-To-Win
May 19-20: (D) Belleville High Banks | Belleville, KS | $8,000-To-Win
May 26: (P) Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park | Brownsburg, IN | Carb Night Classic | $10,000-To-Win
Jun 17: (D) Port Royal Speedway | Port Royal, PA | $8,000-To-Win
Jun 23: (P) Madison International Speedway | Oregon, WI | Dairyland 100 | $8,000-To-Win
Jul 20: (P) Winchester Speedway | Winchester, IN | Rich Vogler Classic | $8,000-To-Win
Aug 5: (P) Toledo Speedway | Toledo, OH | Rollie Beale Classic | $8,000-To-Win
Aug 19: (D) Illinois State Fairgrounds | Springfield, IL | Bettenhausen 100 | $10,000-To-Win
Aug 27: (P) World Wide Technology Raceway | Madison, IL | $10,000-To-Win
Sep 2: (D) Du Quoin State Fairgrounds | Du Quoin, IL | Ted Horn 100 | $10,000-To-Win
Sep 22-23: (D) Eldora Speedway | Rossburg, OH | 4-Crown Nationals | $10,000-To-Win
Oct 14: (P) Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park | Brownsburg, IN | $10,000-To-Win
(A) represents an event paying appearance points only
(P) represents a pavement track event
(D) represents a dirt track event
Race dates & payouts subject to change