Unbuckled: Getting to Know Tyler Cahoon (Part 2)


Hometown: Danville, VT

Division: Maplewood/Irving Late Models

Car: Berlin Optical Expressions/P&H Transportation #38VT Chevrolet Impala

2017 Season: Finished 8th in Late Model points; 1 feature win; Late Model Car Show winner


(Editor’s note: The following is the second installment of a 2-part interview. For Part 1, click here.)

Do you have anyone that you consider a role model or that you take after?

I don’t want to be cliché about it, but I really have to say my father. He’s always been family-first, not only for racing, but for everything. He’s been really supportive in everything we do – well, other than the first time I brought home a race car. But he was really trying to look out for our best interests, because he knew how addictive racing was, and it was better for us to go to school, get a good job, and then race later on in life. He’s taught me a lot through life, and I feel a lot of my character is because of him and the directions he’s led me in since I was a little boy.

What is your biggest life accomplishment so far?

That’s a tough question. I would have to say just life itself – trying to make the best decisions on a daily basis. Probably the best actual accomplishment is raising my family and having my family at the state it’s in right now, with Travis getting ready to go off to college, Jackson beginning his real schooling years being in first grade currently, my wife of 10 years married and 17 years together…to grow that family and be as close as we are, I take a lot of pride in that, as well as keeping my immediate family – my parents, my brother, my sister, and other close friends – close to us for as long as we have. It’s a big deal to keep good people around you.

What’s your dream vacation?

It’s hard to even think of that – I’m always racing! But it would definitely have to be somewhere where there’s no cell service, no internet, no anything that could be bad around you, so to speak. And I could just have a good time with my family, whether that be a tropical vacation, or someplace up in Alaska just out traveling the countryside. I would even hook a camper onto a truck and just travel the U.S. There’s so many national sites and forests and things that a lot of people just don’t get to see, and they don’t understand or realize that they’re right here in our country. A nationwide tour would be a lot of fun, as would a tropical vacation. Maybe someday I can fit them both in at the same time.

If someone turned on the radio/media player in your car, what would they most likely be listening to?

Classic rock is probably the first thing you’re going to hear that comes on the radio, next to some ‘80s and ‘90s pop as well. It’d likely be one of those two. Any good classic rock song is something that’ll really get your heart pumping when it first comes on, and you’re happy to hear it every time you reach it on the dial. If you keep going down the program channels, you’ll find your country stations as well.

If you were asked to appear on a TV show or in a movie, what would you want it to be?

Gosh, I don’t know. I never really thought about that. Of course, it’s different then talking about what your favorite movies around. But probably an action movie if I was going to be in one. I couldn’t tell specifically what movie – maybe one with some high-speed racing going on, Fast & Furious-style. Something like that would be cool.

What sports do you follow or play?

I watch a lot of college basketball, so I’m really looking forward to March Madness. I don’t really follow any particular team. I like the underdogs – those teams that are seeded anywhere from 5th on back that could potentially come up and be an upset. I really like underdog stories, so I would root for those teams during any particular year.

Who is your biggest supporter at the track?

My number one supporter would be my wife Jill, who’s taking care of the family, getting us all up to go on Thursdays or for the weekend races if we’re camping at the track. She stays up in the stands with my youngest during the races though. Somebody that is really kind of a “pit mom” for our team is Sadie. She and Gene run P&H Transportation, and she’s always around making sure that everything happens, whether it’s food, running to do errands for certain things, or taking care of the PR stuff. They love racing, they love racing at Thunder Road, and they love being a part of everything. So she’s a big help when it comes to just dealing with those little things that a lot of us guys wouldn’t think of. I would put her out there as the biggest crew supporter.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?

It’d have to be my father and my brother. We’ve been so close since the beginning. There’s many nights in the shop where it’s just the three of us, and it’s been that way all through our racing career. We’ve spent a lot of time in the shop together. As successful as my father has been as a driver and a setup person himself, it’s hard not to pick things up from that. And who else could you go to beyond that for a mentor when you have that right in front of you? When you need something, sometimes you just have to look around you. You don’t necessarily have to go outside of your world to find the answer. With my father and my brother there, and the knowledge each them have, they’ve been able to talk to me and myself to them as far as what we need for the car, and how we might do something, or maybe I need to drive it a little bit differently. That conversation doesn’t always go nicely, but we can have constructive criticism among the three of us to really make each other better. And that’s a lot of the reason why we’ve been racing as long as we have been, because we keep it within each other. We might yell and scream at each other at times, and other times we’re patting each other on the back, and it makes those wins that much sweeter because we did it together. We know where we all started, and we’re built up most of this ourselves. We’ve had some outside help here there to get us to where we’re going, of course, but the core is always the same.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“To finish first, first you must finish.” There’s a lot to that saying – and of course I heard it from my father. In my early Street Stock days, if someone was in my lane, I was just going to run into them. The thing is, you may have a faster car, but if you can’t go around them, and you don’t finish the race because of it, you’re not going to win. That’s something that has stayed with me for a long time, as well as being cautiously aggressive in my driving style. It’s good to be aggressive when you can be, but don’t be overly aggressive. If you’re cautious about it, and you can’t get them this lap, you can get them the next lap. You can bull and jam all you want, but 9 times out of 10, it’s going to end with a torn-up race car. And if you’re fixing your torn-up race car the following week, you’re not making it go faster.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

I would like to say that we could be labeled as a Thunder Road championship team. But my racing career is really content, and I’m taking whatever’s thrown at me right now. Do I have a goal for it right now? No. Like I said before, I’ve accomplished everything I had expected to, and even more than I expected to at Thunder Road. Will that take me outside of here? Probably not. And at the same time, if an opportunity did come up, would I be able to take it? Family is first, and with my boys and what they’re doing, and my brother and what his daughters are doing, I don’t know if we’re going to have more time in five years to do more racing then we’re at right now. So basically, we want to enjoy the time that’s been given to us right now. Maybe my dad is still racing competitively in five years and we’re running full-time with him again. There’s not too many people out there who get to race together competitively as long as my dad and I have. When we show up at the race track, we race hard against each other; some days he’s better, and some days I am. He’s somebody you can trust on the race track and really have a lot of fun with. So it’s hard to say overall, other than that long-range goal of having a “King of the Road” title under our belts. Having that label for our team would be awesome.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

If we won the lottery, we would definitely have more race cars. (Laughs) We would probably also move someplace that’s warm 12 months out of the year and maybe vacation to the snow – that would be more fun than living in the snow. But we would definitely pick the family up and move to some place that would be ideal for all of us in one way or another. The dream would be a nice white sandy beach for my wife, a short distance to a race track for myself, and all the sporting events that my boys could handle.