Saturday’s Palmetto Classic features a list of top contenders from both the regional and national dirt Late Model scene converging on the Cherokee Speedway for a chance at $10,000 for winning the 60-lap feature. Last year’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year Tyler Erb will be one of those drivers chasing the top prize, making the long trip from Texas for Saturday’s event.
It will be “Terbo’s” first race since the COMP Cams Super Dirt Series Ronny Adams Memorial at Boothill Speedway (LA) on March 6-7, where he won the Friday night feature with a last-lap pass. The nearly two-month break in between races has Erb itching to get back behind the wheel.
“I’m pumped, I’m sick and tired of watching iRacing. Everybody needs to make some money, we’re all broke and we’re just bored, man,” Erb told Speed51. “People spent a lot of money for us to go racing, when we’re not racing it hurts everybody. We need to get back to the swing of things.”
In three previous starts at the 3/8ths mile, Erb’s best finish was an eighth-place finish in 2017 with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. He considers the track’s nickname well-earned, with the difficulty to get around the track paired with the stiff competition from the local racers.
“It’s ‘The Place Your Momma Warned You About’. There’s a lot of good cars and people that race there. There’s ten cars that I think only race at Cherokee, locals that have been around a long time and have gotten really good there. It’s a hard place to get a hold of.
“I never grew up close to there and I still don’t live close to there. It’s important to go there and get better because they have three to five big races every year and they will for the foreseeable future. If you can get a win at Cherokee, that’s huge.”
Erb has remained busy during the hiatus from racing, having worked while getting race cars prepared for when racing did return. He was honest with what his team went through during the break, regarding the uncertainty that surrounded the state of the sport and having to be ready to go racing at a moment’s notice.
“I’ve tried to do some odd jobs here and there for one of my buddies. I went down to Georgia for two weeks and worked for him. Really just trying to survive and stay as positive as I can and work on race cars.
“There was a lot of uncertainty for a long time and it sucks for us because we can’t just say we’re not going to work on our cars tomorrow and go try to find another job because at any moment like this one right now, they say hey, we’re going to go race again. We just had to bide our time, get in better shape, been doing a lot of working out and things that, and not spend any money, really.”
Last year was a career year for Erb on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, winning six races and finishing fourth in points in his first year with Best Performance Motorsports. So far in 2020, he has four top-fives in eight starts, all coming during the East Bay Winternationals back in February. The break in racing due to the pandemic threw a wrench into everything for the team, but he expects to have a better sophomore year than he did in 2019.
“It just kind of sucks so far this year because we went to Florida and were just getting back into the swing of things and then we had a two month break. We’ve been to a lot of the places, this will be the second time we’ve gone to places now and me and Randall and Clint are all on the same page. I think we all know how to get along and make the best out of every night. I think we should have an even better year.”
A win in the Palmetto Invitational would be big for Erb at this juncture as they begin to resume the 2020 racing season. A win a Cherokee would give he and his team a boost going into the summer months.
“It would be huge, I could care less where it’s at right now. I’d like to win and get everybody pumped up to go racing. We’ve been sleeping for two months, people are all antsy and stuff like that. It would be huge to win at Cherokee because I’d say that’s not necessarily my cup of tea. If we can get out of there with a win we’d all be in good spirits.”
This event will not be open to the public. Tickets will not be sold and pit passes are not available for fans.
Click here to order your pay-per-view ticket for the Palmetto Invitational today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo