Pelfrey Pilot Profile: Tyler O'Connor
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in racing?
"Pursuing a career in racing is not easy by any means. You have to be relentless in trying to find opportunities and make the most of them. Starting with a positive attitude can go a long way, and you cannot take 'no' for an answer. More specifically, for a career in open wheel racing F1600 is a great place to start. The fundamentals learned in F1600 can be translated to just about any form of racing. I think it is important to take the time needed to focus on driver development before making the jump to a higher series too quickly."
How has Team Pelfrey's structure improved your on track performance?
"I have been really impressed with Team Pelfrey's dedication to driver and car development. After every session we analyze our on-track performance and think about adjustments we can make to get better. At Road Atlanta we weren't setting the pace right off the bat; but we knew what we needed to work on and made sure we put in the time to make things right. As a result, we qualified on pole, won a race and set an SCCA track record.?
What are your hobbies outside of racing?
"The past few years have been largely devoted to working and racing. I used to play a variety of sports including baseball, basketball and soccer. Although for a few years my family has built an outdoor ice rink during the winter, so I have slowly become acclimated to skating and playing hockey."
What is the most memorable moment in your racing career?
"The most memorable moment in my career is the 2018 F1600 series championship opening weekend at Road Atlanta. After leading both practices and winning the pole on Saturday, Sunday's schedule consisted of all three races. The morning race was run in dry, overcast conditions, and was a battle between six cars in the lead draft. Being in the right place at the right time allowed me to make a last lap pass for the win to start the season. Just before race two, it started raining heavily enough to warrant a change to rain tires. I had never raced in the rain before, so I wasn't as confident heading into race two. I made a mistake and fell back to 9th on the opening lap, but stayed focused and charged back to take the lead and the win. Race three was similar, and I ultimately crossed the line in second. Three podiums and two wins all in the same day was an unforgettable way to finish my first F1600 weekend."
How do you balance work and racing?
"I am really lucky to have a good team at work who support my racing, and help me out when I have to miss a few days. The past few years I have had a good balance between work and racing; both of which can be used to put my mind at ease depending on the situation."
Whats going on in your mind when you're racing at speeds of 130+ mph?
"Once I am in the car and on the track, I am 100% focused on the task at hand. Whether that be running a fast lap in qualifying or thinking about race strategy, everything happens subconsciously when I am comfortable with the car. I never really think about how fast the car is going, or the possible dangers involved." What's the most daring thing that you've done outside of racing?
"Good question! I will focus more on the future for this one. Something I have always wanted to do is go skydiving. Hopefully one day I will get the opportunity, and feel what it is like to fly momentarily."
Is there a current or past driver that inspires you?
"The first form of racing I followed was Nascar. Although I never saw him race, looking back at the career of Davey Allison is inspiring. The highs were really high, and the lows were really low, as racing can be a cruel sport. No matter what happened the week prior, he always arrived at the track with a positive attitude, and focused on getting the best result for the team."
When did you first start driving and what made you want to start?
"I have been a fan of motorsports since I was two/three years old. I always wanted to give driving a try, but did not get the opportunity until 2016 when I completed a Skip Barber racing school at Lime Rock Park. It was a lot more difficult than I ever imagined, but I found myself falling back to my knowledge gained from playing racing video games to help myself build confidence."
What sports do you follow outside of racing?
"Other than racing I follow as many sports as I can. I primarily pay attention to baseball and hockey, as I played baseball for years when I was younger, and nothing comes close to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The NHL has, by far, the best playoffs in sports."