Tyler Roahrig has established himself as one of the top Outlaw Late Model racers in North America. From four Summer Sizzler wins, to back-to-back Kalamazoo Klash wins, to even winning north of the border at Jukasa Motor Speedway, he is the perennial favorite anywhere he unloads his black No. 24. Over the past couple weeks, the Mishawaka, Indiana driver was presented with a unique opportunity to compete in South Africa in a Sprint Car.
While Roahrig may be known for his prowess behind the wheel of a Super Late Model, he is no slouch behind the wheel of a Sprint Car. He has three career Sprint Car wins to his credit. Two of his three victories came in the Auto Value Bumper to Bumper Super Sprint series at New Paris Speedway in 2015 and Baer Field Motorsports Park in 2016, while the last one came just this past October at Anderson Speedway in the Tony Elliott Classic. He was running in the top five during the 2018 Little 500 before a mechanical issue ended his night with less than 70 laps to go.
Roahrig was joined by big company during his trip to South Africa. Two-time USAC National Sprint Champion and two-time Little 500 winner Brian Tyler, former Bristol Motor Speedway track record holder and 2017 Auto Value Super Sprint champion Jason Blonde, and long-time Sprint Car veteran Mike Stutsman all made the trip overseas. After multi-time Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series champion Jimmy McCune could not make the trip, the opportunity went to Roahrig.
“Well, I pretty much just got a call from Mike Stutsman inviting me to come over,” Roahrig told Speed51.com. “He’s been here a few times and there was an opening for another American.”
Roahrig quickly showed his prowess in the first round of the USA vs South Africa Ultimate Outlaws Series at Ultimate Raceway, finishing third in a strong field. The second round for him ended prematurely after a broken driveline during the heat race ended his night at The Rock Raceway. He concluded his time in South Africa with a second-place finish at Ultimate Raceway in a three-car photo finish.
While the Sprint Car may be similar to the one he regularly competes in, everything else is anything but. From race formats to track layouts, racing in South Africa presents a unique challenge to he and the other Americans behind the wheel.
“The cars are the same as far as that goes. The main difference is the tracks are all small and very flat, The Rock even has reverse banking in one corner. The race format is a bit different, too.”
The fun has not been just at the race track for Roahrig. They have been on guided safaris and have seen some of Africa’s most exotic animals, including lions, leopards, and elephants. They have also paid a visit to Jessica the Hippo, a famous animal known throughout South Africa, as well as played with lion cubs.
The once in a lifetime experience has Roahrig thankful for the opportunity to go to South Africa.
“This whole trip and what we’ve done away from the track are things I never imagined doing in my lifetime. I’m very thankful for the opportunity from Izak Spies and Ultimate Raceway.”
Beyond the racing and the trips through the South African backcountry, there is plenty to remember for Roahrig. From the memories to new friends, this is a trip he will never forget.
“Well, it’s always a plus to get to race, but the friends I’ve made on this trip is definitely what I will remember most.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com