Tyler Benson in Seattle
Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites driver Tyler Benson was addicted to speed at an early age. Having a 600-acre backyard in New Jersey gave him plenty of space to run wild on many of the motorized vehicles the family owned. Anything with an engine, that’s what Tyler wanted to play on.
“I always loved speed and racing. When I’m pushing it to that edge, that teetering point where you have control but you’re just walking that fine line, that’s when I feel most alive,” said Benson.
Photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross
Benson didn’t take the normal route into racing. Most drivers start out at a young age competing in either local karting clubs or dirt bike clubs and work their way up the ranks. Fast forward to Tyler’s adulthood where he is part owner of the family business, a successful car dealership in South Brunswick, New Jersey, called Brad Benson Automotive Group.
“Several years ago when Hyundai was fully supporting both rallycross and drifting, Rhys Millen entered the picture. He would call me up when there was an East Coast event and I would let him use one of the bays in my shop to work on his car. He and I developed a friendship. Since then, we worked on getting me into a Lites car.”
Last season Tyler finally got his chance to prove his skills out on a professional track, driving his first GRC Lites race for Olsbergs MSE in the Atlanta round. He did so well they invited him to the next round in Charlotte and again in the final round in Vegas.
Tyler has raced the full 2014 season with Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing (RMR) and has continued to improve his skills out on the track. RMR had a great weekend at the Daytona round with Tyler earning a third place podium finish and Millen winning the Supercar final.
Rallycross360 caught up with Tyler at round nine in Seattle.
What did you think about the track in Seattle?
Photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross
“I love it because it’s basically opposite of every circuit
we’ve run so far. We’ve been mostly in parking lots with dirt jumps and this is what I believe to be a proper rallycross track with lots of dirt and gravel and passing opportunities. It’s more conducive to my style of driving. I’m really happy to be at a circuit
where the Joker Lap
isn’t your only opportunity to make a clean pass.”
How has it been working with Rhys?
“It’s been great. Plus I have Timmy (the crew chief) and Niko working on my car. Everything that I seem to break or whatever happens, I can always count on them to have it ready by the final. It’s always good to not have to worry about the car so I can focus on what I need to do as a driver. I couldn’t ask for a better crew of guys to work with.”
Previously you’d talked about getting more aggressive this season. How is that coming along?
“Just confidence, building my confidence. I feel that I’ve earned respect from the other drivers, that I’m a legitimate contender and I’m not just out there to be out there. By the looks of the car, you can see that we have been quite a bit more aggressive. Not dirty, but we take our chances, pick our spots, and go for it.”
Tell us a little bit about your background.
“Basically, I grew up a farm boy. Running ATVs, snowmobiles, power boats, tractors, etc. I think I got my first quad when I was two, a little Honda 70, and pretty much since then anything with a motor, me and my brother find a way to go fast and battle each other. We’ve always been competitive and he’s always been a good sparring partner for me growing up. That brother rivalry, we just punched each other to the max and it’s always good fun and it makes us both better.”
What’s been your favorite track this season?
Photo by Rallycross360
“Honestly for my style of driving and for what I like to do, so far the DirtFish track has been my favorite venue. It’s not so one-line where it’s like a locomotive going through and everyone is following each other stacked up. You have opportunities to make moves besides the joker. In most spots it’s pretty wide and if you’re smart you can pick a spot and make a pass.”
Do you have a strategy when you go out onto the track?
“Between my crew chief Timmy and Stephan Verdier spotting for me, we always have some kind of a game plan before going out there. Sometimes we have to call an audible but we always go out there with a game plan in mind and then we take it as it comes.”
What other sport would you like to try?
“I’ve always been into stage rally. Pretty much all extreme sports and everything that would be considered my hobbies, like racing our boat. We go to Colorado a few times every winter and we keep all of our snowmobiles out there and do high country powder rides, so pretty much anything with an engine. It’s just in our blood and it’s what we do.”
Anything you’d like to say to fans?
“With the Red Bull voting polls open, they have been wonderful. They’ve showed me a lot of love and I appreciate it. Hopefully we can continue it and pull it out in November as the fan favorite. Without the fans I wouldn’t be able to do what I love to do.”