Meet Tyler Patik. He’s about a year away from having his car complete and entering his first stage rally. We’re going to start checking in with Tyler on a semi-regular basis to share his journey to that first time control. Get to know Tyler.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Tyler Patik. I am from Casper, Wyoming, and have lived here all of my 26 years. I manage a local bicycle and ski shop 6 days a week, but I also do car repair, house sitting, or nearly any other side work to help pay for this rally addiction.
What got you interested in rally?
I never really planned on racing cars. From the time I was 10, all I wanted to do was to race BMX. When I was 16 I bought my first car, a 1983 Subaru Wagon. It was a great car and it got my bike and snowboard gear to where ever I needed to be, albeit at a snails pace. That little wagon gave me my first taste in sliding a car around a turn more or less in control. I was hooked! This was around the same time the WRX came stateside.
Buy or build: Tell us about your rally car.
Shortly after my 17th birthday, I found a more affordable alternative: a red 1995 Subaru Impreza Coupe. The Impreza would have all the benefits of the old wagon with Subaru’s reliability and all-wheel drive traction I had grown to love. Though it had more power than the carbureted wagon, ultimately it was a gutless wonder with the 1.8L engine and it was far less practical than the wagon. But I HAD to have it, and I would spend my nights on backroads learning to drive it. Four days after I bought it I smashed it into a pole, and it took a month for the shop to repair. After it was fixed, I started racing autocross. On my first race out I set the fastest time of the day on street tires. From then on I was in motorsports far too deep and it was a natural progression to rallycross and finally stage rally.
I would be lying if I said I never thought about racing that little Impreza. From day one, that car was to be a race car. A few years down the line I started replacing wheels and tires and suspension pieces. I got involved with forums like Nasioc.com, legacycentral.org, awdpirates.net and ultimately, specialstage.com.
How far along are you today? What are your biggest concerns?
I started prepping this car roughly two years ago. As it sits right now, the car is a solid and responsive competitive car for rallycross. The engine and drive train are built. I am working on new gearset from Guard Transmission with closer ratios. My largest concern is sorting out the cage. That has been the most difficult aspect since none of the fabrication shops in Wyoming are familiar with rally cages or are willing to put the time in to build one. I have been speaking with a few shops around the country and hope to have one finished by the end of October.
How are you involved in rally these days?
Right now I am concentrating on the SCCA Rallycross National Championships mostly for getting seat time in this car. Its not quite the same after driving hill climbs or a stage rally but they are good practice and a good time with friends. The race is in Fountain, Colorado this year and the Colorado Rallycross organization put on well organized events, not to mention the group has been a great starting point for some of the best drivers in Colorado and the nation. At this time I think there are around 70 drivers registered so the level of competition should be high, which I am excited about.
Of course none of this would be possible without good people behind me. Most importantly, my Fiance Kelli has been extremely supportive. She helps where she can with eveything including work on the car. She even sold her new Honda CRV to drive my old Forester so we could save money for a truck and trailer. Without her I would definitely be floundering about some. Roger Matthews has been a good friend and source of knowledge and inspiration. Even though he has had a tough year, his excitement for the sport never seems to waver.
(We followed up with Tyler after the Nationals…)
How did it go at Nationals?
It was an interesting weekend at that race. While the organizers were having trouble with dust and timing, I was coming to grips with this new car. I finished fifth out of nearly 20 cars in the Mod 4 class. It wasn’t my best performance, but I learned alot about the car and what I still need to do to get it setup. Had it not been for a timing issue on their part and 3 cones on mine, second would have been mine. I don’t know if you saw any pictures from the event, but I kinda became the poster child for the dust at the event.
How did the car do?
The car itself ran great, especially for changing out the heads and doing a few other fairly drastic bits of engine work just four days before! I need to mess with the suspension a bit more to improve the turn in and front-to-rear balance a bit, but I need to wait for the completion of the cage.
After the event I got a few other items worked out. Barrett at AllWheelsDriven gave me a call and is helping me out with my cage predicament. I am excited to work with him. Barrett has never let me down and been there when I have had questions for him. He came up with the idea for the cage since he is doing 2 of the same body car in his shop soon. Basically Barrett is going to buid me a cage and ship it to me to finish welding. This works out great becasue the design and bending were the parts I wasn’t confident in, I have welding skills and have a stack of friends that are certified welders. That’s what happens when you live in a state whose sole purpose is oil production.
Any thoughts on the future?
Though I haven’t nailed down a complete schedule for next year, I am working with Roger Matthews. We are going to trade out and do double duty in each others’ cars. On select events, I plan to co-drive for him in either his Group 5 Jetta or his group 2 Super Bunny, and he will co-drive for me on other events. Roger and I get along very well and we both have the same mentality when it comes to driving and the sport. We might make LSPR this year, in Roger’s car of course, but that depends on if he finishes replacing the engine that gave out in Idaho. Or maybe more importantly, if he has any money left after installing the new engine.
We’ll be back with an update on Tyler’s progress.
Thanks for stopping by. As always, press on regardless.