Congrats ARCA racer Tyler Speer; wins Drag Boat Series World Championship in dramatic fashion

Congrats ARCA racer Tyler Speer; wins Drag Boat Series World Championship in dramatic fashion

TOLEDO, Ohio (Nov. 7, 2016) - Tyler Speer had four rounds to figure out his "tune". After a rough way to go over a weekend that kept his team on edge till the very end, Speer finally figured it out. A day after the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series World Finals in Phoenix, Arizona, the Woodstock, Georgia driver/pilot is singing the happy tune of world champion.

"We had a rough weekend, but we sewed it up," Speer said driving home cross-country Monday morning.

"Up until we actually clinched it, it wasn't looking bright in our direction."

It's looking a lot brighter now, however, as Speer woke up Monday morning as the 2016 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series World Champion in the Pro Modified class, having clinched the title late Sunday at Wild Horse Motorsports Park.

Speer experienced a dramatic four rounds of qualifying Friday and Saturday, made even more tense by the series of events that would haunt him till the very end. Keep in mind, in the professional Drag Boat world, there is no such thing as practice.

"You get two rounds of qualifying Friday, and two rounds Saturday...then you race on Sunday. You've got four laps...four passes to figure out your tune."

That means you had better have your act together when you line up for your qualifying rounds.Tyler Speer in boat cockpit 2016

"When we got there Thursday, we had everything ready to go. When we went to fire it up for the first round Friday morning, the gauge wasn't showing any oil pressure...they were literally calling us to the lane. We quickly pulled the lines off the oil pump...come to find out...we had a sensor malfunction. We were literally wiring it up headed to the ramp."

As it turned out, Speer was way off in the first round.

"Next round, we put more power to it...leaned it out, and we ended up slowing down. Not sure Friday could have gone worse. We went from a two-round lead to a one-round lead."

At any rate, Speer was going the wrong way. But at least the oil pressure situation was behind him; now it was time to turn the wick up for Saturday's final round.

"We threw a harder swing at it for Saturday and leaned it out even more."

Not so fast.

"It was a bunch of fluke stuff. Now the starter wouldn't re-engage...it happened right before we got called to the lane. We made it in time...we picked up but we needed to be better."

Beyond being better, there was still yet another hoop to jump through.

"We came back in after our first morning run...went to go through the maintenance on the top half of the motor and found a broken valve spring on the exhaust side. At this point we were pouring over our notes...you don't know if the spring was going weak and had something to do with not making as much power."

When qualifying was all said and done, Speer was 12th among 14 boats. Not good for his championship hopes and dreams.

"This is only our second year, so we don't have a lot of notes...some of the guys have 12 years of notes to go off of; but we went through every note we had Saturday night I can tell you that."

Tyler Speer Thumbs Up in BoatTo add further to Speer's anxiety, he would be going up against the guy who qualified third in the first race-round Sunday. Then, right when he needed it most, Speer's Hedman Husler Hedders-sponsored boat came to life and powered across the lane six-1000ths away from perfect.

Despite all the ups and downs and all arounds, in the end, the boat Gods ramped up their spirits for Speer.

With a slim one-round lead, it would come down to the final pass, and that's when the guy second in points red-lit. That's all Speer needed to clinch.

"I was jumping up and down in the boat coming up for our second round. It was all we needed."

With the pressure off, Speer went into his last pass unrestrained, and maybe even a little too assertive. As it turned out, Speer, singing the happy song from the cockpit, red-lit on his final round too. It didn't matter...he was already a world champion.

"It was a really rough weekend but in the end it went our way. What a feeling it was...we're still taking it all in. This is only our second year...this is so huge."

As to Speer's 2017 season, it's still way up there in the air somewhere.

"That's the million dollar question. We want to run more Top Fuel (equivalent to NHRA Top Fuel but on the water). We're going to run the two (ARCA) dirt races and see if we can do some more."

To get tuned up for his championship weekend, Speer accepted an invitation, one among approximately 40 Drag Boat drivers and crewmen. to compete at the local go-kart track in Phoenix.

"I thought, why not? I'm not going to turn that down. I had the fourth fastest lap time of the month and lapped everyone except second."

As a result of Speer's new celebrity status, he'll be making an appearance, signing autographs in the Lucas Oil booth at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Indianapolis in December. His Top Fuel boat will also be the featured attraction in the Hedman Husler Hedders booth. Speer also plans on attending the 64th annual ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship awards banquet Saturday night, December 10.

Speer carries ARCA logos on his boat and wears the ARCA patch on his uniform. That's cool, and something he doesn't have to do. On behalf of everyone at ARCA, congratulations to Tyler Speer, the 2016 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series Pro Modified World Champion. Job well done!

Don Radebaugh
dradebaugh@arcaracing.com

Comments
Tommy P.

Congratulations Tyler!