Tyler VanEps of Cyrus got his start in enduro car racing fresh out of the DMV, at 16 years old. Now 26, this year is his 10th year enduro racing.
“I started racing in 2009 when I was 16. I’ve been around it my whole life though. My dad drove a car a couple of times when I was really young,” VanEps recalled.
This year, he’ll be racing a 1999 Grand Prix at the Stevens County Fair enduro race on Friday, Aug. 9, at the fairgrounds in Morris. Enduro racing is short for endurance racing because it consists of several laps around an oval, and often dirt, track.
“A friend of mine’s cousin had it,” VanEps said of getting the Grand Prix. “I had been using an Oldsmobile Intrigue for the last two years, unfortunately that car was wrecked in Herman this year.”
Modifications for an enduro car are pretty simple, VanEps said.
“Remove the interior, take the windows and airbags out, build a roll cage, and go have fun. We built my last one in three days, and the way the timeline is looking, we may have the same situation on this one.”
Like the demolition derby, safety is an important part of the event.
“All I wear is a helmet. We have two seatbelts in the car and the roll cage, so were pretty safe in there. I’d venture to say safer than a vehicle on the highway,” VanEps said.
VanEps has a strategy for racing. “I’m always trying to improve my driving, so I usually think about how the last lap went and what I can do different,” he said. “I try to just make my way out front (early) and be by myself.”
He doesn’t consider himself an aggressive racer, but he’ll let another driver know if they’re going too slow.
“I’ve been known to bump people. Sometimes they need a reminder that a faster car is behind them. Like I said, I usually try to make it to the front early on,” VanEps said.
The best part of enduro isn’t winning, VanEps admitted, though it’s a good second.
“Winning obviously! No, the best part is how people will come together to help out. That’s never changed and I hope it never does.”
While there is no pre-race ritual for VanEps, “We usually listen to “cheap seats” by Alabama on the way to the track,” he said.
Overall, VanEps is excited for the Stevens County Fair and, “showing off for the hometown crowd!”