ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. — Tanner Thorson will embark on the next chapter of his career when he heads to the Keystone State for a full slate of winged sprint car racing this week.
Thorson will strap into the Chris Dyson-owned, Sean Michael-prepared No. 20 sprinter starting Wednesday night at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Speedway, after having spent most of the year driving for Hayward Motorsports on the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series trail.
The two sides parted ways on Monday after four wins, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in USAC competition, as well as a Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary-night victory in January.
Thorson told Sprint Car & Midget by phone that he was simply ready for a change.
“I was just ready to move on again, you know? It wasn’t a bad deal,” Thorson noted. “I just felt like it was time for me to get going and start something new.
“Ever since I got out of the winged (sprint) car after my accident (on a California highway last March), I’ve always wanted to get back in one … and that’s kind of my ultimate goal — if I couldn’t go higher in NASCAR — to race sprint cars and head toward the World of Outlaws. But there were just a lot of little things that all added up to my leaving that deal with Brodie (Hayward),” Thorson continued. “You really can’t make a living like I want to racing midgets, and especially working on the race cars and doing absolutely everything for no money throughout the week too.
“That was kind of the ultimate thing, was the money side of it; I just wasn’t happy.”
Thorson’s relationship with Dyson and Michael began last fall at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds, when he wheeled Dyson’s USAC Silver Crown Series entry and was quickest in practice before a parts failure sent Thorson flipping during qualifying.
“I ran their Silver Crown car at DuQuoin in 2019, and man … we were a half second quicker than anybody in hot laps and then something broke on the race car and destroyed it,” Thorson recalled. “But after that, Chris Dyson told me, ‘Hey, I want you to run for me again. I want to give you another shot.’ And Sean Michael and I became pretty close over the last year and a half or so, ever since I ran the Crown car, so this was just kind of the right timing.
“Sean was building his new shop at the time and he said once he got all his little housekeeping things done — as far as building his new shop and house — that he wanted to go race, and now the shop stuff’s done and it’s time to go racing.”
Following Wednesday’s Weldon Sterner Memorial at Lincoln, tentative plans call for Thorson and the No. 20 team to head to BAPS Motor Speedway on Thursday before a two-day swing with the All Star Circuit of Champions Friday and Saturday at Williams Grove Speedway and Lincoln, respectively.
That road map is, of course, “if everything goes well from one night to the next,” Thorson noted.
While Thorson wouldn’t divulge specifics, he added that his ride with Dyson and Michael “isn’t the only offer I’ve got on the table,” and that he could bounce around to various teams before the year is out.
However, Thorson’s hope is that he can build this weekend’s races with Dyson and Michael into something more for the autumn months.
“It just depends, man. I’ve got a lot of offers on my plate right now and a lot of people that have gotten ahold since I posted that I was leaving the (No.) 19,” Thorson explained. “I want to be with a good team and a good car owner, as far as the people surrounding whatever I do next. And that’s not a knock on Brodie; that’s just me explaining what I’m looking for as my main thing in a team, mainly because I just haven’t been happy here lately. That’s kind of the ultimate goal.
“I know Sean Michael really well and he’s got awesome equipment with Chris Dyson. They’re both awesome individuals,” he added. “Hopefully, everything works out where we can put some more races together, and possibly have me finish out the season running winged cars.”
The ultimate goal, Thorson said, is to rekindle his joy for racing and find the “fun factor” once again.
“There’s no sense in doing it if you’re not having fun, right? So that’s kind of my ultimate thing that I look at, as far as being able to race,” Thorson said. “I can go get a job and make way more than I’m ever going to make racing, but that’s not fun either.
“I’ve just got to find the right deal. I’m ready to get back to having fun again.”