For Shelton sixth grader, racing is in his blood

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Tyler Miske spent hours watching his father race a 1935 Chevy pickup truck at New York’s Lebanon Valley Speedway. It was in those stands, as a little boy, that a dream was born.

Fast forward to today. Tyler, 12, is now a fixture on the racing circuit, driving Legend class cars and continuing a tradition that is truly a family affair in the Miske household.

“I was a little boy and started going to watch my father race his 1935 Chevy pickup truck, which was blown-injected on alcohol,” Tyler said about his introduction in the world of auto racing.

“I remember watching him from the stand at Lebanon Valley Speedway (in West Lebanon, N.Y.) and feeling so proud to be there watching my father,” he said. “As I got older and continued to show an interest in race cars — and anything motorized and loud — my dad started to show me how to work on cars.”

That was the beginning of a father-son bond, Tyler said.

Tyler’s love of the racing world comes from his father, Ron, who said he has been racing whatever he could find for decades.

“I am thrilled that Tyler has followed in my footsteps,” Ron Miske said. “Watching him wrenching in the garage with me, learning from me, and the passion and desire I see in his eyes, makes me feel inspired to continue to race myself.

“The coolest part of the whole thing is we get to do it together, father and son,” he added. “As I watch Tyler get into that Legend car, strap in, and take off to line up, my heart skips a beat. But then to watch that kid pull out onto the racetrack and do what he loves, is the proudest moment for a father.”

The elder Miske said he got into muscle cars at 16 when he bought a 1971 Nova SS.

“From then it has never stopped being a passion of mine,” Ron Miske said. “I have been into muscle cars, motorcycles, and drag racing, and now my newfound passion is stock car racing. It has since become a family passion.”

Now Tyler, a sixth grader at Perry Hill School, is truly following in his father’s footsteps. He competed in his first race on May 14, finishing 12th — five places behind his father — in the 14-car field.

“Tyler handled the car like a champ. It was an amazing day,” Ron said. “Such a proud dad.”

This is his first year racing, so Tyler admits practice is key to his continued growth in the high intensity sport. At present he practices and races his Legend car at Waterford Speed Bowl in Waterford. In all, he has competed in three races, most recently placing ninth in a 12-car field.

“I thought I would be more nervous,” Tyler said about taking to the track, “But since I was a little boy, I have been on battery-operated quads, then gas quads, dirt bikes, tractors, heavy equipment and now at 12 years old racing Legend cars.

He said driving a race car makes him feel confident.

“It’s not easy to race these cars, but I love it,” he said. “It’s a challenge and I am proud of myself every time I go in there and finish a race.”

One of his parents’ fondest memories of Tyler is of him doing donuts in front of the house in the snow at 5 years old, having total control over a gas-powered quad.

“Mentally, I try to relax, get into my zone and off I go doing what I love,” Tyler said of his pre-race routine. “It’s fun and exciting and I love to be out there with my father who has made this dream of racing come true.”

The father-son duo spends long hours in the family garage building their cars together so that they can hit the track together. Tyler also praises his 14-year-old sister, Olivia, who attends every race, checking tire pressures and getting him in the car, buckled in and off.

“Without her love and support, it would be hard to get it all done before I had to go into a race. She is amazing,” Tyler said. “And my mom, even though she worries about my safety, is also there to support me. And she packs the best snacks and water to keep me hydrated throughout the day.”

Ron says Olivia also talks about owning a mini stock car of her own to race at Waterford one day.

“My wife, Jill, also has been by my side since the beginning of our relationship, 18 years ago,” Ron added. “This is what makes for memories to last a lifetime. Anything loud and fast is what we love.”

Tyler said racing was a natural progression since he has grown up around loud and fast cars.

“We would go to the racetrack and have so much fun with all the ‘race families.’ Everybody took care of everybody there,” Tyler said. “Everybody says it’s ‘in the blood to be a race car driver.’ When I am behind the wheel of my Legend car, I feel like nothing can stop me, I am focused and driven. It makes me feel alive.”

Racing is fun, but it is also an expensive hobby. That has prompted Tyler’s parents to make him aware of the cost and how he can help cover those expenses — including keeping up with his chores.

“We also stress the importance of school and without good grades, there will be no racing,” Ron Miske said. “This is so important to him, that we have not had to hold him back from his passion for racing. Tyler has been able since the start of this year to hold his grades up.”

Tyler said his ultimate dream is to become a professional NASCAR driver.

“I have never been to a NASCAR race yet, but we have plans to go see the Daytona 500,” Tyler said. “My father talks about how amazing it is to be there and to feel the wind when the cars fly by you at high speeds. I can’t wait to go.”