Over the last decade, especially in recent years, the names Owen and Tayler Riddle have become more prominent in the Northwest region of Super Late Model racing since they came on the scene in their late teens. Major race wins to back up their fast prepared cars have turned heads from those within the Short Track Racing industry, but their Washington-based operation is modest in size compared to others across the country.
“Really our shop is one bay and we get both cars end to end in there,” Owen Riddle told Speed51.com powered by JEGS about their 18 feet wide by 40 feet long facility. “It’s usually (Tayler) and I most of the time that do everything, but without the help of these crew guys that are all volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to have any of this. Everything else we try to do ourselves and we just try to take a little pride in it and make it look nice every time we show up to the track.”
From that small cramped shop, the Riddle brothers have accomplished some very notable feats. Tayler most recently won the Summer Showdown at Evergreen Speedway, awarding a $25,000 payout. Owen won the Montana 200 in 2015, and in 2016 was fast qualifier for the fourth time in the prestigious annual race’s history.
Those only scratch the surface in listing their achievements in a short period of time, but much of it would not be possible without the consultation and advice from some pretty successful names in the region.
“Like Owen said, it’s not a very big operation, but from the start of our racing career we’ve had a lot of good mentors like the Jeffersons and Chuck Carruthers that have kind of led us down the right path,” Tayler Riddle added.
Naches, a small town of less than 1,000 people, has been quite the breeding ground for racers. Brothers Jeff and Jason Jefferson are sons and nephews of top racers in their time, George and Harry Jefferson, respectively. Jeff was a three-time NASCAR Northwest Tour champion and currently serves as crew chief and part owner of Jefferson Pitts Racing at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series level. Jason continues to race regularly with impressive results currently and in the past.
As both siblings alluded to, their support comes from others in the Northwest racing community in addition to the help from the Jefferson brothers. Noted car builder Chuck Carruthers has been a longtime crew chief in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West for drivers such as Austin Cameron, Kevin Richards, and the legendary Hershel McGriff, and was right by Jeff Jefferson’s side as crew chief during his titles.
“To teach you the do’s and don’ts when you’re at the racetrack and to be able to go to somebody like Chuck Carruthers and get setup advice, and he builds all the shocks for us, all that stuff together just really helped us be where we’re at right now,” Owen Riddle explained. “Without those guys we probably wouldn’t be here and we probably wouldn’t have the advantage to know the little things that we’ve learned over the couple years.”
In order to make what they do happen, surrounding themselves with good financial support is important as well. With local sponsors that have been involved in the sport such as Better All Auto Sales, Jim’s Hay, and of course their father Don’s excavating business, the opportunities can continue for them to be a factor in their Super Late Model endeavors.
“There are a lot of good people in the town of Naches and Yakima that just love racing and to see local people do well, like Doug Betterall,” Tayler Riddle mentioned. “People like that, it’s really cool to just run well for them.”
Their success, which includes their home track (Yakima Speedway) with victories in the annual Apple Cup and Fall Classic, can be somewhat surreal at times for Tayler, now 25, and Owen, now 30.
“We grew up going down to Yakima Speedway and watching Jason and Jeff on Saturday nights and rooting for them,” Owen Riddle said. “It’s just kind of crazy now to think that we’re able to race door to door with those guys. It’s pretty neat.”
Tayler Riddle even outraced Jason Jefferson to the checkered flag by the narrowest of margins in a nearly dead heat photo finish a year ago at Tucson Speedway’s (AZ) annual Chilly Willy event.
“Growing up, their logging shop was 500 feet from our excavating shop, and now it’s race shops instead of workshops,” Tayler Riddle continued. “It’s pretty cool to have those guys as friends and competitors now.”
With so many positive results, the question that would naturally follow next would be what is in the future for the duo of racers?
“We’ve talked about it,” Owen Riddle indicated. “It would be nice to be able to run a K&N race or something like that. We just don’t really have the funding right now, and we’re going to focus on this program. We’ve had success with this and we enjoy it. It’s what we know how to do so right now we’re just going to try and focus on this and run as well as we can.”
“We just want to keep trying to get better doing this and get as good as we can while we can do it,” Tayler Riddle said.
For the time being, Super Late Model fans as well as competitors from outside of the region will have to make plans to take a trip to the scenic northwest corner of the country in order to see the talented brothers known as the Riddles.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com