By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For this week’s edition of Climbing the Ladder, Seth Eggert sat down at Kentucky Speedway with Roush Fenway Racing’s Ty Majeski. Majeski is a 23-year-old part-time driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He drives the No. 60 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series and the No. 91 iRacing.com Super Late Model.
Seth Eggert: How did you become interested in Motorsports?
Ty Majeski: “Just growing up, my family and I always watched racing. I always enjoyed playing racing games on PlayStation, video games. We’re sitting at the dinner table one night, I’m 5’4”, 150 (lbs), so you can imagine how big I was when I was nine, all of my buddies were playing tackle football, I wanted to do the same of course. We were always race fans and Dad said, ‘what if I went and bought you a go-kart instead?’
“They didn’t want me getting hurt in football, so that’s what got me started in racing.”
SE: How did you convince your parents to let you race professionally? Was it difficult?
TM: “No, but at that time, it was not professional at all. It was just local go-kart tracks. That’s how we got started. They put the offer on the table, so I didn’t even have to ask.”
SE: Where and when was your first race? What was the result?
TM: “My first race was in 2005 at Hi Go Raceway in Cecil, Wisconsin. I was up to fourth and all of a sudden, I look over and the clutch is laying on the ground under caution. That day I forgot to tighten the clutch bolt, but that has never happened again.”
SE: Who would you consider your mentor?
TM: “I think I’ve had a lot of them through the years, but I think the one that has remained constant throughout my whole career is definitely my Dad. We grew up racing together, go-karts all over the country. It really was a family thing, especially between him and I. It was a good bonding experience throughout my whole childhood.”
SE: What inspires you to compete?
TM: “I just love racing. I am a racer. If I could race every day of the week, I would. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Last week I ran three races, four days up in Wisconsin. Then I took one day off and drove all the way down here this morning to run the Xfinity race in Kentucky. I just the competition of it. It’s literally my life.”
SE: How did you feel after finally breaking through to win the Slinger Nationals?
TM: “It felt good. Obviously anytime you can go to your hometown, hometrack, and defend your turf, so to speak, it feels good. We had a lot of friends, family, loyal sponsors that have supported me from day one. It was cool to perform like that in front of all of them.”
SE: Is there a specific track, other than your own local tracks, that you want to win at?
TM: “I think the one that sticks out that’s not local is the Snowball Derby down at Five Flags Speedway. That’s the crown jewel Super Late Model race throughout the entire country each and every year. That’s a tough race to win. That would definitely top-off my resume if we could win that.”
SE: You earned four straight Championships in the ARCA Midwest Tour. Can you describe your thoughts on that kind of accomplishment?
TM: “That was really cool. We went on a great run. When we put the team together in 2014, we never thought it would turn into what it did. I’m just very thankful to have the opportunity to be with that whole team up in Wisconsin. I still race for them to this day. They’re behind me 100 percent. I know they’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last five years.”
SE: When some fans hear your name, they immediately think iRacing. How do you feel about that?
TM: “Obviously I didn’t start racing on iRacing. A lot of people for some reason got that perception that I started racing on the computer and all of a sudden was in the Xfinity Series. That is definitely not the case at all. iRacing is a great tool, and I use it as a tool to help me. It’s definitely not where I started racing, that’s for sure. I use it (as a tool) all the time, and it’s very beneficial to me. I did not start there.”
SE: You won the first-ever Kulwicki Cup, which is now a part of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program. How did that impact your career?
TM: “That was in 2015. That was a year where I won five races in 2014 and then 2015 was the turning point of my career. I won 20 races, won my second Midwest Tour Championship, won all over the country, down South. That’s when people really started to take a look and know who I was. That (the Kulwicki Cup) was part of it.”
“The Kulwicki program is basically a competition between other racers. There’s a big incentive to go out and win races. There’s a $54,000 check at the end of it. That was a big incentive, and that pushed me harder each and every week to go out and win.”
SE: Speaking of driver development, you are a part of the Ford Performance driver development program, driving the legendary No. 60 Xfinity car. Is it intimidating to drive a car with such a storied history?
TM: “It’s not intimidating at all. I just look at is as just another race, racecar, and racetrack. It’s humbling to know the history of this car and what it’s done in the past. Ford Performance has given me and a few other drivers the opportunity to go out and show our talents. I’m just very thankful for it.”
SE: This year, you’re competing part-time in the Xfinity Series, IMSA competition, and Late Models. Is it difficult to transition from one racing discipline to another?
TM: “Not really. The cars are so different that you don’t really get caught doing things that should be done in one or the other. The IMSA car has paddle shifters and ABS brakes. They’re all just different disciplines of racing and I don’t have too many issues going from one or the other.”
SE: How well have you gelled with the Xfinity team, considering it’s been a round-robin of drivers, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, and yourself, sometimes changing week to week?
TM: “I don’t think it’s difficult to gel. It is difficult to get in a rhythm. Racing each and every week is so beneficial. We finally had some good momentum going after Iowa. Then I had to sit out for two weeks and now I’m back here in Kentucky.”
“In a perfect world, we would all want to be full-time, but that’s not the case. We have to make the best of the opportunity that was given to us. So far this year, we have sowed good speed at all of the races but haven’t gotten some of the finishes that we wanted.”
SE: Is there a discipline of racing outside of NASCAR, late models, and sports cars that you would like to try?
TM: “Not really. This is where I want to be. I’ve always dreamed of being a NASCAR driver. Just very thankful I’ve gotten the opportunity to make it to this point. Hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity and keep moving forward.”
SE: What does the future hold for you, where will you be one year from now?
TM: “Only time will tell. Obviously in racing things change by the day. I would want to be full-time in the Xfinity Series, that’s in a perfect world. No word on any of that. Just going to make the most of the seven races I have left this year and doing what I can on and off the track.”