Long Island's North Fork is sprinkled with old potato barns, once used by farmers to house equipment and crops. Today, many have been converted into personal storage buildings, garages, and even race shops. It is in one such converted potato barn that the members of the TCS Racing team meet at to work on and prepare the #8 Sypher Construction Modified that Glenn Tyler races on the Whelen Modified Tour (WMT).
“All of the guys who work on the car live within about 15 minutes' driving distance from the shop,” Tyler said, “except for me, because I live on the South Fork.”
The TCS Racing team is owned by Mark Sypher, and Mike Corwin is the team's vice president. Greg Tyler and Wally Voegel serve as co-crew chiefs for the car. The rest of the team includes Kevin Dickerson, Wayne Lindsay, John Christofferson, Bob Gallagher, Jesse VanDuzer, and Billy Wysocki.
For Tyler, the 2009 season marks his third full season on the WMT. He scored his first three top ten finishes on the WMT last season, and he ended the year with a 13th place standing in the points.
“In the last two and a half seasons, we've come a long way,” Tyler said. “We went from competing when there were 45 cars showing up every week and we were a 35th place car to consistently being capable of finishing in the top ten or top 15.”
Tyler's 2009 season has not started out quite the way he had hoped. He was 28th in the season opener at Thompson (CT) International Speedway, and he finished 17th and 18th in the WMT's two appearances so far at Stafford (CT) Motor Speedway. Tyler, however, remains optimistic.
“We've had good race cars,” he stated, “But we've just had some problems.” Those problems included a blown motor at Stafford. “That's the first time I've had a problem with the motor, so I really can't complain.”
The next event on the WMT schedule is the June 27th race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track that Tyler enjoys competing at.
“We usually run well up at Loudon,” he said, “but we've had some misfortunes and mechanical failures that have kept us from being where we want to be at the finish. This year, we're hoping for better luck and a strong finish.”
Tyler is looking forward to many of the races on the schedule, including the WMT's stop at Bristol in August, and the race at Martinsville in September.
Overall, his goals for the season are simple.
“This year, I think we are capable of finishing in the top ten in series points,” he continued. “I'd like to be able to get two or three top five finishes, and I'm looking for a win.”
He currently sits 21st in the standings, but, as Tyler pointed out, “The points are tight right now. One week can make a difference of ten spots where the points are concerned.”
One of the highlights of Tyler's season could be the August race at Riverhead (NY) Raceway, a track that is virtually in Tyler's backyard and where Tyler cut his teeth racing. The Riverhead race allows Tyler to showcase his talents in front of a hometown crowd, and it is located in close proximity to his sponsor base. Each and every one of Tyler's sponsors is based on Long Island.
Tyler's 2009 sponsors include Sypher Construction, an East End site and development company; P & G Auto Parts, located in Southampton; Financial Federal Credit, based out of Oakdale; Twin Forks Overhead Doors, located in Riverhead; and B & B Furniture. Tyler's powerplant comes from Big Sal's Race Engines, with motors that the team runs at several tracks being provided by Bill Weller, who owned Tyler's Late Model motors also.
“With backing from Financial Federal Credit and the rest of our sponsors, we as a team are in a good position financially,” Tyler said. “There are plenty of races to go, and we expect to be in a position to be competitive at all of them.”
Tyler acknowledges the fact that the economy is impacting motorsports, and how teams - including his own - allocate their spending.
“I think everyone will have to tighten up a bit,” he said. “Teams will have to spend the resources that they have wisely, and make sure that they are spending money in areas where it is going to make a difference, and make what they are spending worthwhile.”
He continued, “For some teams, I think it's good that the first eight races or so of the season are fairly well spread out. That way, everyone has some time to get things together, and they aren't all burning everything up right away.”
Tyler's insights about racing and maintaining a race team come from virtually a lifetime of involvement in the sport that stretches back to his grandfather, who drove briefly in the 1950s.
Tyler is the son of the Cliff Tyler, the 1965 champion at the now-defunct Islip (NY) Speedway. Tyler's father was the fastest qualifying rookie in 1966 at Daytona (FL) International Speedway in what is now the Nationwide Series. Even Tyler's mother, Betsy, has been involved in racing, as she has served as the head scorer for both the WMT and the Camping World Truck Series (CWTS). Today, she is still involved with NASCAR, handling travel arrangements for several series.
Tyler's resume is quite impressive in itself. While his first experience came behind the wheel of a Blunderbust car at Riverhead, he moved up the ranks to the Charger division before spending several years competing in the Street Stock class at Flemington (NJ) Speedway. Among his accomplishments there, Tyler was named a “Star of the Future”.
Tyler recorded a number of successful seasons in the Late Model division, driving for John and Sheryl Heather, when he returned to Long Island. He scored a win in a 100-lap Late Model event at Flemington in 1997, and he went on to collect the Late Model championship at Riverhead in both 2003 and 2004. Tyler moved into the Modified class full-time following the untimely passing of John Heather.
Now, Tyler is focused on his prospects for success on the WMT. Aside from working on his individual program, in 2008, Tyler's team did some work with the spec motor that is now available to WMT competitors, bringing two cars to certain events.
“We may do some more work with the spec motor,” Tyler stated. “We are planning to bring two cars to some selected events again this year.”
A true grassroots racer, Tyler acknowledges that his success is dependent on many things. “My team does a great job of trying to put together the best car they can for me,” he said. “We have support from some great sponsors. And then there's my family, my wife Cathy and my daughters Marley and Mackenzie, who are supportive of my racing. Without all of those pieces working together, none of this would be possible.”