Team: Tyler Pfeifer Racing
After spending the majority of his life aboard two wheels, excelling enough in the sport of motocross to become a professional, Reno, Nevada’s Tyler Pfeifer made the decision to go down a different path to continue chasing his racing dreams, ultimately deciding for four wheels piloting a UTV. Pfeifer and his father stumbled upon the discovery of UTV racing, and it led the 27 year old racer into the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, where he embarked on his first season of competition in 2019.
In an effort to benefit his transition from two to four wheels, Pfeifer entered both the Production 1000 and Turbo UTV divisions this past season. In doubling up his time on the track, Pfeifer believed it would allow him to learn the skills behind the wheel quicker, while also benefiting he and his father’s learning curve in understanding how to set up and repair their vehicles. While his Production 1000 season was cut short after his Yamaha UTV broke, Pfeifer carried on in Turbo UTV, where he piloted his Can-Am to a sixth place finish in the championship standings, capturing Rookie of the Year honors. Pfeifer quickly learned how close knit the community of drivers in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is, and the willing assistance he received from fellow competitors Keith Brooks and reigning back-to-back Turbo UTV Champion Corry Weller proved to be the difference maker in what proved to be a successful first season.
In addition to his passion for racing, Pfeifer also balances a full-time effort in helping run his father’s construction business, in addition to serving as the lead singer of his band, Convulsions. Despite his full plate, Pfeifer has managed to find success in every endeavor he’s pursued, and his Rookie of the Year honors are poised to be the beginning of a promising off road racing career.
This season marked your first full year of short course racing in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. How would you say the experience was?
It was a fun experience. It was a little rough getting to learn everything, because there’s a lot of different rules and stuff you’ve got to learn when you’re doing something for the first time, but it was a lot of fun.
Your racing career started on two wheels in motocross. What ultimately drove you to make the switch to four wheels?
Well, I raced motocross for pretty much my entire life. I stopped racing to kind of focus on work for a few years, and then I missed racing. I really wasn’t in the shape to race motocross again, so my dad got a side-by-side and I started taking it out onto the motocross track we have out here in the front yard and I really enjoyed driving it around. I asked him if they race these things and he said they probably race everything, so we looked it up and that’s kind of how we started racing them.
How difficult was the transition from motocross to off road, and were there any skills or knowledge that you were able to carry over from motocross to help in making that jump?
It wasn’t super difficult to make the transition over. Mainly just because of all the safety rules and stuff. There’s a lot more you have to do to your vehicle, but with a dirt bike you don’t have to do all too much to it to make it. You can pretty much buy it off the showroom floor and it’s good to go. For a UTV, you need to modify the cage, you need to modify a bunch of stuff, add a five-point harness, etcetera. Skill wise, I think racing motocross definitely helped. I’ve always had a competitive background, so I know how tires will react on certain types of dirt and things like that. [I know] how things will react if you hit a jump in a certain way, so it definitely helped. It’s a lot different, but the skills do carry over.
What were your expectations coming into the season, and how would you say you performed in relation to those goals?
My goal was to pretty much get a top five [in the championship]. I was right there [and] I did what I wanted. I got Turbo UTV Rookie of the Year, so that’s pretty much all I wanted to do. Get a feel for how everything works. My Yamaha actually broke, so I wasn’t able to finish the Production  class.
Talk about that a little bit. You doubled up and competed in both UTV classes this season. How did that benefit your overall efforts this season?
It helped a lot because I got more track time. Me and my dad own a construction company, we don’t actually race [UTVs] full time, so we don’t have a lot of time to go out and test. So, as much track time as I can get on that weekend, the better. Better for me, and better for the car with the suspension and everything. I truly enjoyed racing the production class, I just broke my car in Reno so I wasn’t able to finish the last few races.
What does it feel like to ultimately be named Rookie of the Year in Turbo UTV?
It feels awesome. It’s a really big accomplishment for me in my career, and it was an awesome experience. It was everything I could have asked for.
You were able to mix it up with the most talented drivers in the class all season long. Did that competition help make you a better racer? What was it like to go wheel-to-wheel against them?
It definitely made me a better racer. It was an all around learning experience every time I got on the track and was around everyone. I got to see their lines and how they did everything, going into corners and out of corners. I got help from the Wellers [Corry and Jason]. They were helping me with my suspension, and Corry was giving me tips for how to go in corners. The same with Keith Brooks. He’s been helping me with my cars lately.
With a year of experience under your belt, what are you plans for the 2020 season? What kind of goals are you setting for yourself in your second year?
So right now we’re not 100-percent sure if we’re going to be racing next year, just because of the amount of time it takes out of work. We’re definitely going to be doing at least Reno [at Wild West Motorsports Park], and we’re still working on the cars, acting as if we’re going to be racing next year. We just haven’t made the final decision yet.
What would you say was the most valuable lesson you learned, or piece of advice you were given during your rookie season?
Pretty much just don’t give up. If your car breaks, just try to fix it. Ask everyone in the pits [for help], because everyone is really nice. If they have the part they’ll sell it to you, they’ll loan it to you, or whatever you need. Definitely just don’t get down on yourself. I doubted myself almost every race after my car broke, but by the end of the season I got Rookie of the Year and it really looked up for me.
In addition to your racing, you also have made a name for yourself as lead singer for your band, Convulsions. That must make you quite busy. How do you find the balance between racing and performing?
It’s just time management. A lot of times I’ll work from about seven [in the morning] until three thirty [in the afternoon] and then I get off. Pretty much half the week I’ll be working on the car, and half the week I’ll be practicing music and just trying to better myself in all aspects of my life. It is tough, though, because sometimes things don’t really line up for you in terms of schedules, but if you have enough determination you can make it work.
Who would you like to thank for all the support you received this season?
I would like to thank Keith Brooks for helping me with my car. I’d like to thank Weller Racing. Without them I probably wouldn’t have gotten Rookie of the Year. They helped a lot. The biggest thing was my dad. Without him I wouldn’t be doing any of this. I wouldn’t have raced motocross, or pretty much done anything that I’ve accomplished. He’s been everything.
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