Imagine the lifted eyebrows of some of America’s most die-hard sports car fans if they arrived at the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona and found Dave Darland or Donny Schatz listed as a driver of an Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi Prototype.
The reverse of that is sort of already happening, even if not everyone has caught on.
Many people in the USAC Silver Crown series don’t realize it, but an accomplished sports car champion has been in their midst this year.
And he’s there because he’s always wanted to give open-wheel dirt-track racing a go.
Chris Dyson, the son of Dyson Racing team owner Rob Dyson, is a two-time champion of the American Le Mans Series, as he was the LMP 675 champion in 2003 co-driving with Andy Wallace and the LMP1 champion in 2011 driving with Guy Smith.
Dyson Racing has always had great equipment and a professional appearance and has earned 19 sports car championships. But over the team’s four-decade history, there have been some periods when the team has not competed, and this has been the case for the past three seasons.
As vice president and sporting director for Dyson Racing, Chris Dyson insists that Dyson Racing will be back at the top levels of American sports car racing.
Caught in the paddock while he was competing in the Trans-Am Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he said he’s working very hard with prospective manufacturer partners to make that a reality in 2019.
But for the past couple years, the lack of a full-time sports car schedule allowed him to do something he says he’s wanted to do since he was a boy — compete on ovals in Silver Crown cars, sprint cars and midgets.
No one on a USAC Silver Crown team has a title like “vice president and sporting director.” Many of the people he’s competing against this year have taken note with a bit of envy at his excellent equipment, but they have no idea how accomplished he is in sports car racing.
And in typical Dyson fashion, he’s going about it sensibly but whole-heartedly with a separate team called CD (for Chris Dyson) Racing.
He’s still very involved in sports car racing, as his No. 1 priority this year is a full season of Trans-Am with a Ford Mustang under the CD Racing name.
“I created CD Racing to support some new programs outside of the traditional series that Dyson Racing is known for,” he said. “I had the opportunity to race for another team in Trans-Am last year. The competition is fantastic. I loved the cars, there was some excellent equipment available and when the opportunity arose we had enough time to get organized for the full season in 2018.
“CD Racing is my own personal racing entity,” he elaborated. “It’s separate and distinct from Dyson Racing, but it uses some of its assets. I’m still fully engaged in my role as sporting director and a driver for Dyson Racing though, and right now I’m working on some plans for Dyson Racing for next year. But Trans-Am has been really satisfying and the competition here is top-notch, so I’m looking forward to finishing out the season racing here.”
As his schedule allows, CD Racing plans to enter all the remaining USAC Silver Crown dirt events with a Beast-Kistler Chevy. Dyson also owns a Beast midget with a Stanton engine and a Maxim Speedway Chevy sprint car for both winged and non-winged 410 and 360 racing.
“I’ll probably drive a Dyson Racing client’s Lola LMP1 AER car in at least a couple of vintage races this year too,” he added.
Which car does he like the best?
“They’re like children; I love whichever one I’m with at that moment,” he said.
What the sports car folks didn’t know was that he’s wanted to go dirt-track racing for a long time.
“My love for dirt-track racing started at the beginning of my career,” he said. “All of my early karting races were on dirt ovals in New York, and I went to as many sprint car races as I could. I used to love ESPN’s “Thursday Night Thunder,” and I watched Jeff Gordon come up from open-wheel racing to NASCAR. And with the Outlaws, I was a big Steve Kinser fan. I’ve always been enthralled with the cars and I’ve always wanted to do it.
“When the ALMS schedule was starting to wind down and I found I was finally going to have some additional time, I contacted Cory Kruseman to get a taste of sprint car racing. I did his school and it was even better than I imagined,” Dyson continued. “I ended up doing quite a few races with Cory, too. I have four appearances at the Chili Bowl and since 2015 I have tried to run on dirt as much as possible while still keeping my road-racing commitments.”