NASCAR’s Next Generation: Q&A with Tyler Dippel
Have you ever spent a day throwing up what felt like 10 times and then gone to work?
Tyler Dippel has.
That was the case Sept. 17 when Dippel, a rookie in the K&N Pro Series East, found himself in the infield care center at New Jersey Motorsports Park, a road course in Millville, New Jersey. The 16-year-old driver from Walkill, New York, had spent the day emptying his stomach thanks to a bad case of the flu.
“It was rough,” Dippel told NBC Sports. “I just had to fight through it because we were still third in points.”
Dippel was given three bags of IV fluids and nausea medicine before he climbed into his No. 38 Chevrolet for HScott Motorsports for the 55-lap race, which he would finish seventh.
“They had a substitute ready in case I got sick inside the car or something, but I wasn’t going to get out of the car unless I was blacking out or throwing up in my helmet,” Dippel said. “I was just going to muscle through the pain.”
And there’s been a fair amount of physical pain in Dippel’s career. Last year, while preparing to unload a car at a dirt track, a winch failed and the door to his trailer fell on Dippel. His pelvis broke in five places.
“It was not like any pain (I’ve had) before,” Dippel said. “I don’t really remember too much about it because the pain was so great, I really wasn’t with it all.”
Dippel, the son of a former professional Motocross racer, spent three nights in the hospital before being bedridden for three weeks. There was no surgery needed and he was only out of a cockpit for eight weeks.
“I got really lucky,” Dippel said. “The bones were all broken, but they were still all in alignment with each other. So I didn’t have to wear a cast. So my body didn’t really get a stiffness from being in a cast.”
Those weren’t his first broken bones. At 12, Dippel broke a tibia and a fibula after flipping a four-wheeler. And years before that, a dirt bike accident resulted in a collarbone injury that led to his parents encouraging him to take up auto racing.
But to keep from receiving further injuries, maybe Dippel should be in a cockpit at all times.
“Yeah, in a five-point harness,” Dippel says with a laugh.
Dippel, who has scored the most points this season among all Rookie of the Year candidates in the K&N East, won in his second start at Mobile International Speedway. In May, Dippel was made part of the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class.
The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.
NBC SPORTS: As a 16-year-old driver, what do you look for in a team aside from it being successful consistently?
Dippel: Probably a real good crew, just having a good relationship with the crew to mesh together. If everyone’s having fun and working well together, I think that’s partially what makes the team successful, too.
NBC SPORTS: At what point this year did you feel your team was jelling at 100 percent?
Dippel: We started jelling from the first race. I think we had an (eighth) place the first race and we ended up winning the second race of the season. We jelled pretty quick I thought. We had a little bit of bad luck in the middle season, blew a motor, blew a (transmission), had a bunch of flat tires, just a couple of things that didn’t go our way, but we’ve always been engaged.
NBC Sports: What’s your earliest memory of racing?
Dippel: Probably when I got my first race car when I was 8 years old for Christmas. It was a slingshot, a little bit bigger than a go-kart, kind of like a scaled down Northeast Dirt Modified. They have the same motor that a Bandelero has and it’s just a dirt car pretty much.
NBC Sports: What’s the best race you’ve been in or ever watched?
Dippel: Probably a Super Dirt Car Series race at the Dirt Track at Charlotte. That race was just so fun, there’s a big cushion right against the wall and you had to be inches from the wall, just sideways. There were guys on the bottom and there were lead changes, slide jobs going left and right. I was leading for most of the race and unfortunately jumped the cushion on the last lap and gave it up. We still had a really good run there.
NBC Sports: What do you consider your theme song?
Dippel: Empire State of Mind by Jay Z
NBC Sports: What’s the fastest you’ve ever been in a street car?
Dippel: I don’t have my license yet, probably like 100 (mph). I haven’t really gone that fast in a street car.
NBC Sports: When do you get your license?
Dippel: I’m scheduled to take my road test next month. I turned 16 in April and you have to wait six months to get your license in New York. That kind of stinks.
NBC Sports: How did you do on the written test?
Dippel: I got one question wrong. I think there was 20 questions.
NBC Sports: What do you want your first car to be, if you don’t already have it?
Dippel: It will probably be a truck of some sort to pick up and haul trailers and race car parts. That would probably be the most practical.
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