At his peak, as he rose into national prominence as a Super Late Model racer, Ty Majeski figures he averaged 40 races a year around Wisconsin, the Upper Midwest and beyond.
This year he’ll do 10 if he’s lucky.
Some of that was by design. A full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series would demand more time in North Carolina and on the road with Niece Motorsports. Then came coronavirus pandemic, which put the short-track world on tilt and made the NASCAR schedules look as if they’d been printed in disappearing ink.
But the number of races isn’t the most important statistic.
“Win No. 100, that was in New Smyrna, and then we won the Rattler and then the Slinger Nationals,” Majeski said, ticking off major victories in Florida in February, Alabama in May and Wisconsin in July.
“Let’s see. … We’re 3 for 5, I think.”
Nice winning percentage.
Throw in a near miss Saturday at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells – where Majeski was leading handily with four laps to go before a caution bunched the field – and it’s fair to say his black-and-white No. 91 will roll into Wisconsin International Raceway with considerable momentum Tuesday.
Majeski is the defending winner of the ARCA Midwest Tour’s Gandrud Auto Group 250 (formerly Dixieland 250). His win last year at the oddly shaped half-mile in Kaukauna, a half hour’s drive from his hometown of Seymour, was his 94th in Super Late models, filled a void in his trophy case and was worth $10,000.
“We’re as ready as we can be,” Majeski said. “Our race cars are really good right now.
“We’ll obviously unload with similar setup to last year, and that was probably one of the best race cars I’ve ever had relative to the rest of the field in my entire career in any circuit. If we can get close to that, I think we’ll be a real strong contender.”
While distance has kept the prevented Majeski from behind as hands-on in the shop in western Wisconsin as he might be and the pandemic has wreaked havoc with the schedule, there’s no real difference in the level of preparedness or the feeling within the team when it pulls into the pit area anywhere.
“First of all, I’m blessed to have a great group of guys – Toby (Nuttleman, crew chief) is full time, and then we have a lot of volunteer help at the shop as well – so those guys, whenever I want to come back and go late model racing, they have my back,” Majeski said. “Between my car owners, Brad and Nancy (Mannstedt), and all my supporters, we can pretty much make anything happen. I’m just incredibly thankful to have that situation.
“It’s not just a driver-race team realtionship. We’ve been doing this now … it started in ’13, so this is year No. 8 with all of us together. We’re family, and until I quit racing I’ll have this opportunity to run late models.”
With fewer trips to the racetrack as Majeski’s crew chief, Nuttleman has spent more time working with a number of other drivers and teams who race cars he has built. Nuttleman was on hand for wins by Justin Mondeik in Norway, Mich., and in the Midwest Tour opener in Wausau, Wis., as well as one by Brock Heinrich at Wausau.
“That keeps him moving our program forward,” Majeski said. “That way when I come back and run these races we know we can be competitive.
“When you’re not at the racetrack, everybody else is getting better and you’re not. So just being at the racetrack, he gets to try different things with different people. They like diferent things than me and I like different things than them, but there are times where things cross and we learn from each other. Anytime you’re at the racetrack you’re going to learn something, whether it’s what to do or what not to do. And that’s incredibly beneficial for any race team.”
Majeski will have his work cut out to repeat at WIR.
Bubba Pollard, who has crushed it all around the country in big-money races this summer, is entered for the first time, as is Redbud 300 winner Carson Hocevar. Reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Busch, who won the event in 2007 and lost it in tech in 2017, will be back.
Wisconsin driver Casey Johnson has been a threat everywhere, and many who keep a close eye on the track are high on Bobby Kendall, who leads the standings in WIR’s weekly competion. And Johnny Sauter and Derek Kraus, the two full-time NASCAR truck racers from Wisconsin besides Majeski, are entered. Sauter was the most recent driver to win consecutive editions of the race (2010, 2014).
“A lot of good cars, a lot of great race-car drivers, and that’s what you like to see,” Majeski said. “I love competition. That’s what it’s all about.”