After more than 25 years of chasing checkered flags, Kyle Strickler has hit the reset button and one of America’s premier modified racers is transitioning to his new role as a touring late model driver.
“To run a national tour in a super late model was my dream and my goal when I moved to North Carolina in 2006. It’s taken a long time to get here, but we finally made it,” the 37-year-old Strickler told SPEED SPORT. “I don’t know if anyone has ever won a national tour title in their rookie season, but that’s my goal regardless of which series we end up running.”
A native of Sinking Spring, Pa., Strickler was born into a racing family.
“My dad raced and he owned cars, so I grew up with it,” Strickler said. “Kenny Brightbill drove for my parents in northeast modifieds, so every weekend I was going to Grandview, Big Diamond, Penn National and Susquehanna, race tracks like that around the Pennsylvania area.
“I started racing go-karts when I was 10 and did that until I was old enough to get into the big cars. You had to be 16 to race sportsman modifieds in our area, but we talked to the track owner and they let me start at the beginning of the season when I was 15. I ran a sportsman modified at Susquehanna Speedway in 1999,” Strickler continued. “We won a couple of races and had some success doing that, and then I progressed through the modified ranks, went to the small blocks and then on to the big-block modifieds. I raced at tracks up and down the East Coast from New York to Pennsylvania and Delaware. We had a couple different rides and had some success; won some big-block races.”
Strickler’s racing career, both on and off the track, became stagnate, so he decided to shake things up by moving his family to Mooresville, N.C., in January 2006.
“I figured it would be easy to move down south, get a race car ride and work in racing; do the whole deal,” Strickler recalled. “But little did I know it would be like moving to Hollywood and trying to be an actor. Everyone down here drives race cars and is involved in racing.
“I worked for a bunch of different NASCAR teams. I worked for Hype Racing with David Gilliland when he won that one Busch Series race. Then, I worked at Robby Gordon’s and Rusty Wallace’s. It took me forever to get back behind the wheel. I was running some winged outlaw karts at Millbridge Speedway, just trying to stay fresh. I was also going back home and running a northeast modified race when I could.”
Eventually, Strickler turned his first laps in an IMCA/UMP-style modified.
“I ended up getting a ride and we raced locally at Carolina Speedway and East Lincoln Speedway in 2009 and we won 10 races that year,” Strickler said. “We got lucky and I got hooked up with the guys at Harris (Auto Racing) in 2010 and that was the first new car I had down here. That year, we won something like 34 races in the Carolinas and then we started to branch out regionally and nationally.”
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