Life has always centered around racing for Tyler Haydt.
That comes further into focus in 2022 as Haydt joins the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as a car owner with his new team, Haydt Yannone Racing, which will field an entry with 2011 tour champion Ron Silk behind the wheel and crew chief Phil Moran atop the pit box.
Haydt, 36, grew up around modifieds in Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, near Mahoning Speedway and raced weekly for years. Now a commercial land developer, Haydt saw the timing was right for him and co-owner Joe Yannone to get into the tour with a team of their own.
“I had built him a house, and we got to be buddies,” Haydt said of Yannone. “And he knew that I was into racing, so I think he came along a couple times to some of the stuff and then one day he said, ‘You know, we should get a race car.’ I was like, ‘Alright,’ so I think the next week we bought one and we started racing it at Mahoning and Evergreen (Raceway) and Wall (Stadium).”
Haydt has been a racer since hopping into his first quarter midget when he was 6. That passion carried him into 15 starts on the tour in 2005 before continuing his weekly racing around Pennsylvania.
Haydt fielded cars for other modified drivers on weekly circuits in recent years and often received help from Ryan Stone. Through Stone, Haydt was connected with Silk — not long before Haydt parted ways with a former driver. Haydt knew right away that Silk’s input would be invaluable if the former tour titleist was willing to get behind the wheel.
“He was the first guy I asked because I knew he was good,” Haydt recalled. “We agreed the first year we were just gonna run stuff. He had a tour ride and he had a tri-track ride, so we just ran open stuff the first year to see how it would go. So we ran Evergreen and we ran Stafford and stuff like that.
“And then, the next year, he knew that we were gearing up with better equipment and stuff. So the next year, we decided to run the tri-track and we ran New Smyrna and we ran Thompson. We just kind of kept chipping away at it, and now this year we’re gonna go and try and run the tour.”
Along with Silk’s experience behind the wheel comes Moran, who spent the last two seasons working with six-time tour champion Doug Coby as his crew chief. Haydt and Moran connected while Haydt was a driver himself, but conversations for 2022 swirled as Moran’s 2021 campaign was coming to a close.
One phone call and plenty of discussion later, the duo reached an agreement for Moran to lead the 2022 program.
“We certainly hope to run well; there’s no doubt about that,” Haydt said. “We needed a strong personality that could be a team leader for us. We had the guys; we just didn’t have all the chassis knowledge and the time to put in to run the tour. So (Moran) is the perfect fit for that. I think he’s gonna command respect among our team.”
With that experience comes high expectations from Haydt, even if specific goals have not been set. Silk was a two-time winner on the tour in 2021, as was Moran with Coby, and Haydt is confident his equipment will be of winning caliber starting Feb. 12 at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.
“We’re expecting to run good,” Haydt said. “We didn’t really sit down, per se, and talk about what our expectations are yet, but, I mean we all know that we have the right components and the right people to run well.”