WILLIAMS: Why Tyler Erb is great for dirt late model racing

WILLIAMS: Why Tyler Erb is great for dirt late model racing
Heath Lawson Photo

I grew up in a Billy Moyer family. 

Back in the 90’s, my uncle would call around to different tracks seeking out where the iconic No. 21 would be racing in the coming weeks. We would catch up with Moyer as often as we could. 

I’m still a Moyer guy and will be until I die. I even root for Jr., just because of the family (It’s the same reason I’m a Chase Elliott guy when it comes to NASCAR. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, baby.)

But the fact of the matter is, because of the era that they raced in, guys like Moyer and Bloomquist could only take dirt late model racing so far – that’s a niche portion of a niche sport (auto racing).

I see some major opportunity for growth though within our sport and hear me out: A guy like Tyler Erb is the perfect face for dirt late model racing heading into its next era. 

Erb, a boisterous Texas native, is young, brash, charismatic and as fierce of a competitor as you will find in the pits. 

He’s also a guy who the majority of dirt racing fans can relate to. It is borderline Earndhardt-esque. 

Growth … 

I don’t have any data to back this up, but my educated guess is that more eyes are on our sport right now than ever before. 

COVID-19 has changed the world. 

— More of us are sitting at home at night than ever before. There isn’t anything else to do!

— More of us are comfortable streaming than ever before. 

— The growth in technology over the last few years especially has allowed more racing fans to watch what they want – on demand – than at any time in history. Gone are the days where Formula 1 snoozers and NASCAR are the only options. 

The point is that back in the 90’s, had I had the opportunity to watch Billy Moyer multiple times a week in any capacity, I would have done it! And I would have been a bigger fan of dirt racing – specifically late models – because of it. 

We have that now. 

Think of this this like a television show … 

This is where the embattled Tyler Erb comes into the picture. 

With my guy – ole No. 21 – not being as nationally relevant as he was in the past, I am a bit of a free agent when it come to fandom. 

There are a few guys out there who for me, are “must-see TV.” None more than Tyler Erb. 

I fully understand why other drivers in the pits have issues. His well-documented reckless actions over the last year (including a move that got him sent to the pits last week at East Bay) would piss me off too if Erb was ruining my equipment. 

But I’m not a driver. I’m a third-generation super fan of dirt late model racing. 

As maddening as some of Erb’s emotionally-fueled antics are to some drivers, his phenomenal promos that are made for social media are equally valuable to the sport. 

Dirt racing isn’t just a sport anymore, my friends. 

It’s also a TV show (which failing to understand this is one of many reasons why NASCAR got so so boring throughout the years). 

Tyler Erb is a phenomenal television character. 

As much as our sport needs heroes – like the legends Bloomer and Moyer were in the past – we also need wildcards and villains. 

The fact is that if Tyler Erb is racing, I am watching. 

That is good for dirt late model racing.