Tyler Roahrig’s racing career took a break on April 25, 2014 when he was involved in a vicious wreck while practicing his Super Late Model at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Indiana.
His injuries included a compound fracture in his lower leg that was repaired with a titanium rod and three pins. Another rod and screw held his broken hip in place. A broken arm that also need a plate and screws and a broken sternum, tailbone and left shoulder blade were all suffered in that accident last April.
He spent the rest of the 2014 racing season rehabilitating with the hope of getting back in a racecar someday.
Exactly one year and one day after that accident, Roahrig made his first start in a Speed Chasers Inc. sprint car owned by Tom Brewer at Anderson Speedway (IN).
He finished sixth in his first race since the accident.
Returning to Anderson Speedway didn’t faze the 24-year-old from Plymouth, Indiana.
“I don’t really remember it being on my mind, I wasn’t scared at all,” Roahrig told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I was more worried about whether I was capable of driving again, if it would come back and how long it would take to come back. Honestly, what happened a year ago wasn’t on my mind, I was more worried about doing well than anything else.”
This past weekend, he made his first start in an Outlaw Late Model in the Denny Nyari Classic at New Paris Speedway in New Paris, Indiana.
It was a race that was memorable for more than just returning behind the wheel.
“I started 16th and took the lead with 11 to go from my dad (J.R. Roahrig). We got together and both spun, but he tapped out so I got my spot back,” recalled Roahrig. “He got loose and got me in the left rear.
“When we got together, I felt pretty bad because I thought it may have been my fault. It was hard to block that out the rest of the race, and I had some critical restarts with Brian Ross on the outside. So I was worried about the contact with dad and me until I got back to the pits, and he said it was his entire fault. It was a huge relief. I felt pretty rusty in practice just from not racing so long I guess, so I wasn’t sure if I was capable of doing it anymore.”
When asked if he felt like he shook that rust off after the win, Roahrig said he was getting pretty close.
“I felt fine after about 15 laps in the feature,” explained Roahrig. “But I would say I’m maybe 90% to how I was before I got hurt. I don’t think I forgot anything, just had to knock some rust off.”
Knowing that he mentally was at 90% with his driving, we asked how he felt physically after the race.
“Physically I’m fine. I have some pain kind of often, but it’s nothing I can’t handle,” Roahrig said. “It is better than laying in a rehabilitation institute like a year ago at this time.”
After his win, a common thing he heard after his victory on Saturday night was that his comeback was complete.
“One of my best friends said something like that as soon as I got out of the car,” recalled Roahrig. “A lot of other people I don’t even know said similar words as well.
“I guess it’s nice to know that I proved to everyone else that I can still do it. But, I think more importantly, I showed myself that I can still do it.”
So now that he’s feeling good health wise and scored his first victory since the crash, is everything back to normal for Tyler Roahrig?
“I would say so,” Roahrig said. “The biggest change since April 25, 2014 is just having a different perspective on racing, and life in general. I don’t know how to explain that perspective, I just know it’s different.”
Roahrig isn’t ready to slow down either. He will be back in his Outlaw Late Model this Saturday, May 9 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan. He will then hop back in his sprint car for the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway on Saturday, May 23. That race will be live on 51 TV.
-By Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @KevinRamsell
-Photo credit: Speed51.com Photo