Racing Junk had a chance to sit down and talk with soon to be NASCAR XFINITY driver Tyler Reddick recently. We’re thankful Tyler was able to take time out of his busy schedule as he gets ready to start a new season with a new team and in a new series. Tyler wrapped up his final season with Brad K Racing in the trucks last year at Homestead and began the transition to the XFINITY Series with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Tyler’s Early Years Before “Organized” Racing
Tyler was born and spent his early years in Corning, Calif., up north near Red Bluff and Redding. As he got more serious about his racing career, the family moved from Corning to Illinois and finally to North Carolina. Reddick says he got interested in racing because his father was a racer and there were many local tracks around Corning.
Tyler’s been racing since he was four and a half years old. He started out in go-karts, when his father and grandfather took him to a go kart track and dad pushed him around in a kart with no engine. Dad and grandpa noticed that he loved it, so much that they bought him his own kart.
Tyler told us that although he was driving race cars from a young age, he wasn’t legally able to drive the family car on regular roads until he was 18 because of how much they were always on the move going to races and such. A funny story in connection with this is that when he was 15, the family listed his address as that of his aunt and uncle in Wyoming so that he could get his learner’s permit and get some practice driving a passenger car on the city streets.
The Evolution of Tyler Reddick, Race Car Driver
Reddick started out in the go karts before he was five. He graduated from karts to Outlaw/Mini Outlaws – the ones with the big wings on the back. The first of these had small five horsepower Briggs and Stratton engines with restrictor plates, but he soon graduated to the Outlaw cars with opened-up B-S motors and then those with 500 cc Yamaha four stroke engines. Another cool story about his younger racing career in California is that he spent quite a bit of time on the track competing against his now Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson.
These early cars were built for him by QRC Karts. Shortly after, they started buying his cars from Ted Baer. Another friend, Kyle Beady, went west from the east coast to help them out and build cars. Baer helped for a bit, but soon Beady was able to supply Reddick’s cars on his own. At the beginning, Reddick was only racing for fun, but his grandfather, who owned Corning Ford, helped them buy and build the cars, so he put his dealership’s name on the cars. His father also had a friend with a NAPA shop, and they put their name on the cars as well.
Reddick Hits the “Big Leagues” in Camping World Trucks
Reddick says he spent a bit of time knocking around in the ARCA and K&N West and East Series after the midgets and Outlaws before he was “discovered” by Brad K Racing. The second car he ever drove in competition was the midget car that Jason Leffler drove in the Chili Bowl.
He ran his first K&N race at Rockingham in 2012 when he was 16. He was driving for Ken Schrader Racing. He qualified fourth and hung out around fifth until everyone’s tires started to wear out, and finally he was going head to head against the leader. The leader tried to block him out and ended up putting himself in the wall. Brett Moffett, who Reddick passed for the win, had Jeremy Thompson as a spotter – the same man who soon became General Manager at Brad K Racing. Reddick’s performance in that race got Thompson’s attention, and he was able to sign with BKR for a partial schedule that morphed into a full schedule, and then he qualified for the XFINITY Chase.
Reddick says he really enjoyed his three years driving for BKR and he felt like a part of the family over there. He says that he hasn’t quite gotten to that point with Ganassi yet, but he attributes that to the fact that the BKR shop has a little over a third of the personnel that the Ganassi shop has. Everyone he’s gotten to know in the couple of months since moving over there has really made him feel welcome.
Notable Achievements in the Career of Tyler Reddick
Reddick has competed on both dirt and asphalt. He holds the record at the Eldora Speedway World 100 as the youngest driver to win the pole. He is also the youngest driver to win the East Bay Winter Nationals as well as the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. He holds the same record for qualifying in a feature race in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
He tells us that he’s mostly looking forward to getting back on the track next year. That’s mostly due to the aero change between trucks and XFINITY cars. He’s excited to have fun and make the most of his time on track.
When asked for advice for younger or more inexperienced drivers, he said the most important thing was to make sure you’re ready before you jump, especially if you have a single shot to make it happen. If, like him with BKR, he had a few races to make an impression on the bosses, you don’t have to worry as much, but you should focus and always make sure you’re ready to make that next jump up to the next level of your racing career.
Tyler, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us, and Ian, thank you for setting our conversation up. Look for Tyler in the XFINITY Series, driving full time in the Ganassi Racing number 42 car.