Throughout the 2018 season, many youngsters caught the attention of fans watching OSCAAR. One of those drivers who stood out was OSCAAR Pro Sprint competitor Tyler Cullen.
“Personally, it will be a pretty good year for OSCAAR as a whole, especially with the Sprint division with all the drivers coming back and some coming to the series that are new,” he commented. “I feel like it’s going to be like a really good season for OSCAAR and a competitive one.”
Going into his sophomore campaign, the goal is to run up front and contend for victories right alongside fellow youngster Jaden Riddell.
“My goal is to beat Jaden this year,” Cullen commented. “He’s been a stone in my side for a little while, and I kind of want to get revenge on him and try to beat him this year. I also want to do the best that we can this year and just kind of be competitive, podiums if we can, and maybe contend with Daniel and all them. That would be really good for our team this upcoming season.”
Cullen had a solid rookie campaign, picking up three top-fives and eight top-10’s throughout the year despite missing a couple of races. The teenager was forced to sit on the sidelines after cracking his knee-cap in a crash at Grand Bend Speedway.
“That was not a good time, but probably the most memorable because I was on crutches for a few weeks,” he said. “But you always get surprises thrown at you, and unfortunately, some don’t go your way and probably the most memorable moment because my season went from good, to bad, to worse.”
There were some good highlights in the rookie campaign, too, including a heat victory and third-place finish at Flamboro Speedway. So it marks no surprise when the Hamilton, Ontario oval is the one he has circled on the 2019 calendar.
“That’s probably the best track that I’ve performed at,” Cullen said. “I’ve got a heat win there, and third-place last year at the first race. It was a surprise to me; we were just lightning quick there. It’s just so awesome to be competitive, run fast laps, and that circuit has always been a big part of history in the years and OSCAAR always put on a good show there. It could be a really fun race.”
in trying to turn the top-fives into his first career feature victory, he feels his team needs to learn the car and set-ups better to be even faster.
“Especially with the new rules coming out this season,” he added. “We’re just going to have to learn those and just battle through them trying to get better as the season goes on, especially with the clutch rule. We’re going to have an interesting time figuring that one out. We’ll get through it and we’ll be better as a whole.”
Although Cullen is one of the drivers pegged as a front runner for 2019, the competition is going to be stiff with a variety of competitors to watch. It’s no surprise defending series champion Daniel Hawn tops the list for Cullen.
“He’s going to be a rocket ship out there, and probably the other guys battling him will be Norman Newman, Jaden Riddell – there’s going to be a lot of guys fighting for that top spot,” he commented. “Even James Stanley can even battle through them. Probably another one to watch will be that 58 car (Gary Triska). Personally, I think that car has improved a ton over the last two seasons since the series has been going on. I think he’s going to get better and better especially with the rules falling into his hands next season. I think that 58 car will be a good contender middle of the field, and maybe challenge for a podium once he gets there.
“Also another contender I’ll throw in there – the 4 car (Ryan Battilana) is definitely been better and better as he’s gone on. I remember the first race we were all battling together as a bunch of rookies, with me, Jaden and the 4 car. We were battling and even through the year, we were battling for Rookie of the Year. Jaden came out on top of course, but that 4 car will be a definite contender.”
For Cullen, his start in racing came through his father asking him if he wanted to try go-karts one day.
“I went out there and got my karting license there and in my first race, it was kind of chaotic, but came out seventh,” he recalled. “Then I just got better and better as the years went by, and won a championship in my third year. I then moved on to Grand Bend (Speedway) where I placed second in the last year that I was there. Then now I’m here racing this big, monster of a machine.
“It’s amazing how seven years can go by so fast and how it can leave me to such bigger and fast racing.”
Now seven years into his career, that championship from his final year in go-karts at Erbsville still ranks as the most memorable moment to date.
“We were just dominant that whole season,” he commented. “I was racing with a bunch of kids my age – some of them really new, some of them a little experience. I have lots of memories looking back. I even had a go-pro on my head looking back through the races in what I could do better, and it just comes to mind. I even have the trophy sitting up right in front of me right now.
“It brings back memories of that season, and you almost want to look through them again. But after you go on to bigger and better things, you just want to stay where you are.”
By: Ashley McCubbin