Central Alberta’s Tyler Staruiala has crossed the finish line in his first year of dirt racing in the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA).
The 20-year-old from Ponoka County won the IMCA Canada Rookie of the Year and finished second in total points in the IMCA Modified Canadian Championship.
He placed second after competing in 15 races throughout the summer. In the IMCA they took the competitor’s 12 best races and Staruiala finished with 460 points which is just nine points back from John Beaumont who was crowned champion.
“This is our first year in this class and first year running these cars. We definitely didn’t expect this to happen in our first year,” he said.
The year prior Staruiala competed in the Northern Alberta Mini Stocks which helped him get his feet wet in competing. In that league, they race in communities in northern Alberta and race four-cylinder front-wheel drive cars.
This helped him take a step up to the IMCA Canada where they race modified cars that run on methanol fuel and can have up to 470 horsepower. The season typically runs from May until the end of September.
He spent the summer racing in Alberta and B.C. including the biggest oval race in western Canada in Rimbey, the Duel in the Dirt. He ended up winning the race that’s not far from his hometown.
“I was feeling confident with the car and I had trust in the other drivers around me … Everyone who races there are stand-up people and are really good drivers. They helped us out immensely and the car was set up really well,” he said.
“I don’t think we had the best start in the race but there were some spots on the track I could utilize to get an edge on everyone else. We definitely used that when we could.”
In the offseason to stay sharp he practices on a racing simulator, which is not quite the real thing but it helps him stay on top of his game.
Staruiala has been passionate about racing since he was a kid and when he’s not working in the oilfield you’ll usually find him on the track during race season.
“I always told my mom and dad I wanted to do it… There were a couple of times throughout the years when I’d have an idea but it just didn’t work out where we lived prior up in Fort McMurray,” he said.
“We found dirt racing a couple of years ago tried that out and we’ve loved it. We’re doing not bad in it so far.”
He first came across the idea after visiting a car show and since then racing has been a family affair for Staruiala who is joined by his loved ones at every race who serve as his pit crew.
“I want to make it to the big leagues one day whether that be NASCAR or whatever path it leads me down. I always said I’d race a bathtub if it had a motor strapped to it,” he said.
“I want to make it big enough so that I can repay my parents and give them a life that they sacrificed to help me chase my dream.”