Rising star Tim Boychuk returns home for Rocky Mountain Nationals It was the summer of 2003 when a circle track driver by the name of Tim Boychuk first remembers putting four wheels on a drag strip. As part owner of Castrol Raceway in...
Rising star Tim Boychuk returns home for Rocky Mountain Nationals
It was the summer of 2003 when a circle track driver by the name of Tim Boychuk first remembers putting four wheels on a drag strip.
As part owner of Castrol Raceway in Edmonton a few years back, Boychuk vividly recalls the thrill of driving his first vehicle -- a slow, bulky track grinder -- down the Canadian quarter mile in preparation for the IHRA's first trip to Edmonton for the Rocky Mountain Nationals nearly seven years ago.
"I remember for the first Rocky Mountain Nationals weekend on Wednesday and Thursday I was out there with a grinder making the track smooth and wondering what the heck I am doing out here. I am an oval racer so what am I doing at a drag strip at midnight in the pouring rain grinding the track," Boychuk recalled.
While Boychuk's first trip down a drag strip wasn't the most exhilarating experience, as it turns out, it wouldn't be the last time he would make a pass on the two-lane asphalt strip.
A few years later on a routine trip to Phoenix to watch a NASCAR race with a friend, Boychuk was presented with an opportunity he simply could not refuse. Traveling with his longtime friend and neighbor -- an avid drag racing junkie -- Boychuk decided that night to give up his days of making left turns and try something a little more exciting -- and a lot faster -- when he purchased a car from his friend.
"He had a funny car and we helped sponsor him. We ended up in Phoenix to watch a NASCAR race and that night we started chatting and by the end of the night I ended up owning his drag car," Boychuk said. "I never dreamt this, it is not something I grew up with an aspiration to do, it just more or less happened by accident."
Boychuk spent the next few years having all kinds of success in the funny car ranks before finally deciding to step it up a notch early last season and jump into one of the world's fastest racing machines, a Top Fuel dragster.
In February of 2008 another chance meeting between himself and Barry Paton at a racetrack in Arizona led to Boychuk getting his first Top Fuel ride in Paton's Tim Horton's backed dragster at select IHRA and NHRA events.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Boychuk finished out the 2008 season winning the final two races of the year in IHRA competition while also qualifying for a handful of NHRA races. This season Boychuk has already claimed a win in Tulsa and was the No. 1 qualifier two weeks prior in Dallas.
With the Tulsa victory Boychuk has now won nearly a third of the races he has entered including winning a remarkable three of the last six IHRA events.
Not bad for a driver who grew up wheeling Late Models and Sprint Cars around dirt tracks across North America.
"Our drag racing career has started out really well and has continued to grow," Boychuk said. "It is so surreal because I never expected the success we have had, but it has been wonderful and we are really enjoying it."
From a track grinder to a Top Fuel dragster, Boychuk's rise through the drag racing ranks has been an unexpected yet highly successful venture for the Edmonton native.
Now, exactly one year after making his IHRA debut, Boychuk will return to his hometown with a ton of momentum and plenty of support for the fifth race on the IHRA Nitro Jam schedule, the Rocky Mountain Nationals located in the heart of Alberta, Canada.
"It is like a dream come true. I can't believe we are where we are," Boychuk said. "We are very happy about coming into Edmonton with a win behind us. It will give us the momentum that I am pretty sure we will be able to carry throughout the weekend and maybe get another one."
And what a moment it would be for the Edmonton native if he could get a victory in front of his hometown crowd.
"That would be the highlight of my career. If I never raced again after that it would be enough," Boychuk said. "There would simply be nothing better."
Boychuk almost got his wish at last year's Rocky Mountain Nationals when he qualified third and took down Terry McMillen en route to a semifinal appearance in his very first IHRA start. Despite a great run -- Boychuk's first trip into the four-second zone -- he couldn't overcome Kevin Jones' low E.T. of the event at 4.797 seconds in the semis.
Jones went on to defeat Bobby Lagana Jr. in the final.
Boychuk followed up his first semifinal run with two first round losses before finally breaking through with his first ever Top Fuel win in only his third start at New England Dragway in September of last year. He followed that up with his second straight win a few weeks later in Rockingham.
This year Boychuk had a bit of a slow start, qualifying in the bottom half of the field at the first two national events while never making it out of the first round.
He began to get things turned around in Dallas, taking his first No. 1 qualifying spot and claiming his first round win of the year, but his big breakthrough came a few weeks ago at Tulsa with a win over veteran Bruce Litton at the Sooner Nationals.
With the victory Boychuk leaped from sixth to fourth in the Top Fuel standings and is now just 111 points back of leader Litton. Boychuk also has a remarkable 11-6 round win-loss record in his first nine starts.
"The guys are doing an excellent job on the car. The first couple of races we had some gremlins, but we looked after it and got if fixed," Boychuk said. "The car is working about as good as it can be."
Now it is off to Edmonton, Boychuk's home track and the same facility that is home to almost every first in Boychuk's drag racing career.
"Edmonton is a great track. Going from part owner to now being able to come back here and race is a great deal," Boychuk said. "To be able to come back here with all our friends and family and with all of the support we have will be awesome. And to win in Edmonton would just be the ultimate."
From a regional oval racer to now a three-time IHRA national event champion, Boychuk has come a long way from his days making left turns. And none of it, as he will quickly point out, would be possible without the support of many who have helped him over the years.
"We have a pretty good group of people out here supporting us. And we will have even more support for the Rocky Mountain Nationals with media tours, displays and all sorts of neat deals in the days leading up to the race," Boychuk said. "I look forward to the next couple weeks as we get ready for the biggest race of the year.
"And none of this would be possible without the support of great companies like Tim Horton's, Crosby Industrial, Red Line Oil, Gates Canada, Chatterson Machine and Tool, Fast Eddie Racewear, Rosenau Transport, Ashton Transport, The Iron Garage, MHK Insurance, Igloo Building Supplies, Nelson Brothers, Blue Steel Chemicals, Redneck Promotions, AFD Racing, Makloc Buildings and Construction, Ron Hodgson Pontiac, Buick, GMC, Paradise RV, Racepak, Ranger Distributors and the many others who support us all over North America."
The River Cree Resort and Casino Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Paradise RV will take place July 3-5 at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta.
And you can be sure that of the thousands of fans that annually flock to Castrol Raceway for the IHRA's biggest race, more than half will be rooting on Edmonton's own rising star -- Top Fuel driver Tim Boychuk.