MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Chris Dyson’s road to becoming a regular on the USAC Silver Crown circuit has been quite unique.
Born into road racing heritage as the son of sports car racer and owner Rob Dyson, Chris Dyson eventually found his way to the top, capturing a pair of American Le Mans Series titles – the LMP675 driver’s title in 2003 and the LMP1 championship in 2011.
All these years later, the versatile Pleasant Valley, N.Y., racer finds himself behind the wheel of a USAC Silver Crown car, something that may seem light years away from competing at Sebring Int’l Raceway.
He actually did race at Sebring two weeks ago, finishing second in the Trans-Am Series season opener on the 3.74-mile road course.
The jump between the two different racing disciplines may not seem as daunting when one considers that all of Dyson’s early kart racing during his teenage years came on dirt oval tracks in his native northeast.
It’s where he formed his personal connection with oval racing, the direction his racing compass has taken him in recent years as he prepares to make his Silver Crown pavement debut this weekend at Memphis Int’l Raceway during the Memphis 100.
Jumping back and forth between a Trans Am car and a Silver Crown car can be a challenge, but Dyson is quick to point out the similarities in each series are present, especially considering that Silver Crown racing – for all intents and purposes – is the endurance series among USAC’s open wheel divisions, commonly running 100 laps.
“(Silver Crown) cars have always intrigued me,” Dyson pointed out. “I love oval racing and one of the central appeals of Silver Crown racing is the races are long. You have to look after the car and the track changing. I think that all of those things line up with the disciplines that I’ve done in road racing. Although it’s certainly is a different circuit configuration, you’re using the same skill set.
“For me to see a lot of the great heroes coming up when I was a kid – some of those guys are still racing – I think it’s fantastic just to be out there on the track with them.”
Although a Trans-Am Series car has relatively no outwardly similarities to a Crown car, Dyson has found common ground between the two.
“The biggest commonality between both cars is that they have more power than grip,” Dyson acknowledged. “The throttle control that you need in one absolutely correlates to the other. The need to look after your tires is another shared trait. In the case of both series, you’re starting a race and there’s not going to be a pit stop, and you start the race with a full load of fuel.
“The way that the cars change over the course of a race is similarly dramatic.”