In the Pits with Tyler Dilegge
Hometown: New Castle, Australia
Car Number: 1 and 26
Team: Rackley W.A.R.
Favorite Vacation Spot: Pensacola, FL
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Movie: Days of Thunder
Favorite Food: Pizza
1. What sparked your interest in racing? What made you want to start driving?
My dad has always been around racing and stuff like that. He raced go karts, and a lot of my family were into racing. When I was nine years old I got into go-karts back home, and raced 11-12 years. Sort of always wanted to move to America, and I got the opportunity with Willie Allen and the guys at Rackley. They sort of took me under their wing, let me come over here and learn, and helped me get some opportunities. That's sort of where the Legend thing started. Willie helps me out with my racing and stuff like that. He was the one who introduced me to some people to start making contacts, like Ricky Schlick and Joe Ryan.
2. What forms of racing have you competed in?
Mainly just Asphalt go-karts, it's all road course stuff back home. We don’t have any oval. [Driving on an oval track] was pretty different, I had never even driven a Legend Car before. I went straight to Irwindale [Speedway]. I sat on the pole for my first race after the invert. I ran third in my first circle race. I sort of got an initiation by fire.
3. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the racing world?
Probably being from another country, it has its pros and its cons. You don't know anyone, so you really got to be open to meeting new people and making those contacts. That's the biggest thing I’ve learned. You have to be nice to everyone to make those contacts. Its paid off for me. The contacts are a lot more valuable than the experience sometimes. They help you along. That's the biggest thing about being from another country, I don’t know anyone. I don’t have any family here, or any sort of relations. I’m sort of just doing it on my own. Just making contacts along the way. Sometimes I’d rather go learn off people and meet people than race. It can be more valuable in the long run. It may not look like it, but I'm planning for the long run and making most of the opportunities I do get.
4. What is your favorite racing memory?
Probably Road Course World Finals. I had never driven a Legend Car on a road course before. It was raining in practice, so only got one practice session in. But had a solid weekend, came away with an 8th out of 30 something cars. I feel that was a decent result considering I hadn’t even seen the track or been in one of those cars on a road course before. Got some top five national results back home in karts.
5. What are your 2023 racing goals? What do you hope to achieve?
I am hoping for a top five at the Road Course World Finals this year. And then hopefully pick up a win on an oval or a road course this year in America. That's a bucket list thing I want to tick off. I’m not sure of my schedule at the moment, possibly a 10-15 race schedule in Legends at the moment with some other stuff sprinkled in there. If I could pick up a win, that would be awesome. Possibly dabble in a start or two in a pro late model.
6. What is your ultimate racing dream?
I’d love to make a start in the [NASCAR] Truck series, that's my ultimate goal. Just make the most of the opportunities I get, in any sort of vehicle. And hopefully the rest just comes along with it.
7. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Probably Willie Allen. He's really taken me in like family and gives me a lot of guidance in between his huge schedule. Between running a truck team and a late model team, it's a lot. He makes a lot of time for me, and it's never an issue if I give him a call at a race. He's always texting me back and forth, giving me pointers and advice.
8. If you were pulled into victory lane right now, who would you want to thank?
I’d probably be pretty speechless, but of course I’d love to thank the Rackley W.A.R. team. Everyone on that team, from the truck shop and the late model shop. They all play a part. Ricky Schlick, he's been a huge help. He gave me a shot. We got so close to a couple of wins at Vegas this year, he's been a big help. And mom and dad like normal. Can’t forget mom and dad.
9. Do you have any pre-race “rituals” or things you always have to do on race day?
I have to put my gloves on last. It throws me out, even if I have to zip up my suit or something. No, I’ve got to have my gloves on. That's the last thing, and then the visor goes down to just barely cracked. Once the visor goes down it doesn’t come back up. That's sort of my superstition.
10. Outside of racing, what other hobbies or activities are you involved in?
Racing sort of consumes my life, whether it's watching or just being a part of it. Back home in the winter time, I love skiing. That's something I really enjoy. Being from Australia, we’ve got plenty of beaches, so I don’t mind going to the beach every once in a while. Which is something a bit different here. I live in Nashville, so we don’t have any beaches close. It's super fun. It's one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. So much to see and do.
11. Do you have any advice to someone who is looking into getting started in racing?
To keep the fun element in racing. If you aren’t having fun, why are you doing it? There's only a handful of people who do it for a living. Enjoy what you do and enjoy what you're racing. It's not always about getting to the next level, it's about enjoying the moment. The next level may come or it may not come. But as long as you’re having fun and meeting people along the way.
12. If you could describe your racing style in one word, what would you say?
Aggressive, overly aggressive sometimes. Especially on the road courses, I'm known for being a really late braker. The last race in Vegas, I sort of launched over my boss's son going for the lead. We had a bit of a coming together. It's happened a couple of times. In karts, back home, it can be really beneficial. You’re on the limit so hard you don’t have leeway to get out of it.
13. Who is your favorite NASCAR driver, and why?
Chandler Smith. I met him 4 years ago, he was really, really nice to me. It introduced me to all his family at the ARCA race in Pensacola. We’ve kept in contact. I’ve always liked his driving style and what he can do.
14. If you could have a conversation with anyone, who would it be and why?
Probably Michael Schumacher. As a kid growing up, my dad’s side of the family is Italian. So, him driving for Ferrari, you always went for Schumacher.
15. Do you have any hidden talents?
I can eat a lot of ice cream. I get picked on for drinking too many milkshakes and eating too much ice cream, just chocolate.
16. What is something many people don’t know about you?
Normally the accent, they get thrown off by the accent. They can’t understand some of the words I say or the lingo I say. That throws them for a loop, especially if they don’t know where I’m from.
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