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20 Year Old from Williamsville, Illinois Sets Sight on Racing Career
Tiffany Wyzard wants to make her living by racing. She’s got her eye on NASCAR. “That’s my ultimate goal,” she said, “but even if it’s just sprint cars, I’ll do that the rest of my life.” This 20-year-old from Williamsville, Illinois, has already spent much of her life racing — since she was 8. Her father Jim Wyzard recalled her win at the Herb Barlow Memorial Race in Pittsfield, Illinois, shortly after she began racing mini-sprint cars. “She won that night with blocks under her seat to lift her, so she could see over the steering wheel,” said Jim.
Tiffany Wyzard in her sprint car. Photo courtesy of muggshotsbytammy.com.
Wyzard said her father grew up wanting to race, but he did not have the opportunity. One day, he took young Tiffany to a hobby shop for parts for the family’s go-cart. “They had a quarter midget, and he asked if I wanted to drive it,” Wyzard recalled. “I said, ‘Of course, I do.’” “She started rubbing on it,” Jim remembered, “and I knew we were buying that.”
Wyzard raced midgets for four years, and mini-sprints for six, getting behind the wheel of a sprint car at age 17. Wyzard earned a roomful of trophies, Jim said — including 2005 rookie of the year honors at the St. Francois County Raceway in Farmington, Missouri, and an Illinois state championship in quarter-midgets. “It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” Wyzard said of racing. “Sprint cars are very fast, and they don’t weigh very much.” “She’s a good racer,” said Cory Franklin, owner and promoter of the St. Francois County Raceway. “She’s learning, and she’s doing a good job. She has a lot of fans at the Farmington racetrack.”
For the uninitiated, sprint cars sport “wings” on top of the frame. This helps hold down the light-weight vehicles (1,250 pounds) by putting more force on the back tires, Wyzard explained. Wings also provide a cushion when the car flips, Franklin said. Wyzard races in the outlaw class, “so anything you want to do with your car is legal,” Franklin explained. Today, Wyzard races her 800-horsepower Chevy in the MidWest All Star Series, competing in 1/4- and 3/8-mile distances on oval dirt tracks. Average times around the Farmington track range between 10.8 and 11.5 seconds, Franklin reported.
Wyzard is in her third year racing sprints and won her first race last year at Lincoln, Illinois. She won several heats recently, Jim said, and ran in the top 10 or top five in most of her races this year. “But those days are few and far between,” Jim said. “The further you go, the harder it gets. There’s more competition.” “We’re trying to do the best we can do,” Wyzard said. “Everything that could go wrong has,” Jim said of this season. Wyzard and crew struggled with her car’s motor; then she crashed, requiring a rebuild of the back end.
Wyzard is one of only five female sprint car drivers competing in her series, she said, with most drivers being older males. “They don’t help me very much,” Wyzard said. “It’s pretty much everybody for themselves. “They don’t like it when I beat them. It gets rough.” “She’ll race with boys as hard as they want to race,” Franklin said. “And you wouldn’t think it to look at her. She’s a little girl with long blonde hair. She shocks me when she gets in there with the best of them.” “Tiffany is a very competitive driver,” Jim said. “She wants to be at the racetrack every week.” Wyzard gets a certain look in her eyes when she dons her helmet, her father said. “Even as a kid she did. That’s why I continue doing what I do. It’s expensive.” To fill the sprint car’s tank and keep it running, Jim operates a cleaning service, and Wyzard works for him. “That’s the only way I could get the days off,” she said with a laugh.
Things were hectic on a recent Friday as the crew headed out to race, and Jim’s company serviced three new clients. Jim also serves as her crew chief. “It’s a family thing they’re doing,” Franklin said. “Dad’s taught me everything I know about racing, ” Wyzard said, “what certain things to do with my car, what’s wrong, what it needs and what will happen when we change something.”
Tiffany Wyzard Motorsports relies on K&N air filters. “They’re awesome,” Wyzard said. “That’s all we've ever run. A lot of people run on them.” “That injection box you guys built for the sprint cars is perfection,” Jim said. “It improves your finishing ability. It washes up good. It cleans up good. It puts back in place good. It’s such a nice piece.” Jim also offered appreciation for K&N’s sponsorship. “It’s a rough road,” he said of racing. “She’s got what it takes; she just doesn’t have the cash.”
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