Sixteen-year-old Tyler Hughes began racing quarter-midgets at the ripe old age of five. For the following seven years, the young driver continued competing in that particular class.
Now at age sixteen, Hughes is still obsessed with the sport, but is now testing his driving skills against other racing enthusiasts from the seat of a Legend car. In fact, the driver and his team recently rolled into Florida, eager to race at the Auburndale Speedway.
Tyler Hughes plans to spend a portion of the 2013 season racing Late-Models.
Tyler Hughes recently experienced mechanical issues at the Auburndale Speedway in Florida.
"My confidence level going into Auburndale was very high," recalled Hughes. "The previous year, we had finished second and first on the last two days of the event. I felt like we had a strong chance at winning the whole event (this year) if everything went well."
Lining up for the opening race, Hughes‘ aspirations were high, but as the heat continued, a mechanical issue eventually reared it's ugly head - the engine had a faulty valve. Lacking the proper shim to get the valve back to standard specs the crew adjusted it as near to perfection as possible. However, the compression still wasn't up to par, and Hughes was forced to limp along throughout the remainder of the race.
In spite of his mechanical misfortune, the driver still managed to end the first day of the event in fourth place. "I felt good about the finish," explained Hughes. "I was concerned about what to do with the the motors. The 1250cc motor from INEX is the best motor you can have, and that was the one that had failed. Our back-up was a 1200cc motor that needed a rebuild. But that was the only other motor we had."
Obviously the crew had very little choice of what to do. That in mind, they pulled the INEX engine late that evening and dropped the other between the fender wells.
Late-Model racer Tyler Hughes at Southern National Motorsports Park
Lining up the next day, Hughes' confidence level was somewhat suspect, as he was faced with uncertainties. Although satisfied the back-up motor would perform, it was suspect of lacking that needed punch at a venue considered by many drivers as a "horsepower Track."
Although aware he would likely get beat down the straightaways, Tyler Hughes refused to embark upon the race with any hesitancy. In fact, the young driver had a plan. "Drive the car into the corner deeper, roll the center better, and get out of the corner harder than everyone else," he explained.
Starting in the tenth spot, the driver executed his game plan. At the run's end, Hughes managed to hold his position in the field. Unfortunately though, hold his position was all he did, as the driver finished tenth. "I was very frustrated with everything that went on that day," recalled Hughes. "I knew I had the car to win the races, but I didn't have the motor to compete. It was so frustrating being able to catch people a car length in the corner, but watching them pull that right back in the straightaway, making it impossible to pass."
Referring to the next race of the event, Hughes said, "I wasn't going to have fun starting and finishing in the same spot like I had the previous day. So I decided to start last in every race for the rest of the week, and pass cars to have fun. My goal was to make it farther every day."
Evidently, the young drivers new approach was a success, as he started 20th and managed to work his way into 11th place by the race's end."I was actually happy with the finish that day," he shared.
Initiating the same game plan on the following day, the driver experienced an even better run. Starting 20th, Hughes began working his way to the front of the field, And at the waving of the checkered flag, found himself in the seventh position.
Tyler Hughes finished 11th in the Late-Models race at the Southern National Motorsports Park
Going into the final race, Tyler Hughes had managed to overcome circumstances that to some, would have proven devastating. The driver had also gained some confidence. In turn,he crossed the finish line in fourth place. But the days to follow would actually deem him the third place finisher, as the winner was eventually disqualified by U.S. Legends officials, due to not meeting their requirements.
"Knowing all of the problems I had during the whole week, finishing third could not have made me any happier," ensured the driver. "I looked back at it and thought it could have been a lot worse. I'm glad I walked out of that event with the finishes I earned.
"I was happy that I proved I could come from the back and pass cars," he continued. I would have been happier with winning the event, and winning races down there, but there is always next year."
Even when faced with difficult circumstances, Tyler Hughes managed to experience a reputable outing, at Auburndale Speedway. In turn the driver is looking forward to what will transpire in the weeks to come.
Although aware that good driving skills will prove an essential element of success, Hughes is also aware that his team has always been and will continue to play a very important role.
"My team is very important to me," Hughes explained. "If I didn't have my faithful and loyal team behind me, I wouldn't be racing and where am right now. They do an awesome job helping out, working on the car and making sure it's right every week."
The young driver is also obviously acquainted with the importance of keeping one's rig in optimal running condition. "Maintenance is very important," he confirmed. "Although a lot of the time you can't prevent a mechanical failure, you can make sure every nut and bolt on the car is tight. But it may be bound to fail at some point."
The driver is also acutely aware that keeping one's engine debris-free lends to longer life and better performance. that in mind, he is a strong advocate of using K&N products. "Our team uses K&N oil and air filters," he said. "We have been using them for the past three years. K&N products, in my opinion, are the best on the market right now. They are dependable and performance enhancing."
2013 is full of hopes and aspirations for Tyler Hughes and his team. Referring to future plans, he concluded, "Fans can expect NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Late Model races at Southern National Motorsports Park, and maybe some Legend Car races. Budgets are tight, and we are trying to find marketing partners to jump onboard with us for the rest of the 2013 season. We support and promote; and what better opportunity to have company's names in front of thousands of fans each week on a car driven by a young and upcoming driver!"
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