By Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Rachel Plant
MARION, Texas — Most racers go through a few phases or chapters as they put in a decade or two in the sport of short track auto racing. They try their hand in a few different divisions, or race at a few different tracks until they find the one that's right for them.
For 30-year-old Treyler Caulfield, finding the right environment and atmosphere is no longer a major challenge. He's found a home in the Texas Dirt Truck Series (TDTS), and is starting to get it figured out. He's finding good speed and consistency, with seven top-10 finishes in eight starts this year.
“If I had to sum up our season so far in the trucks in one word, I would have to say solid,” Caulfield said. “We're getting close to a win, and I feel like we have the consistency we were after this year. I'm making progress as a driver; we're gaining in setup knowledge and things are starting to gel for us.
“We gained a ton in handling once we got our shock package from Gary Swenson. These trucks take a lot of finesse and the right setup to be fast. I've had a lot of good people offer guidance that is really helping us out. It's a combination of hard work, experience and people that have us close to winning.”
Caulfield's background in our sport mimics that of so many; turned on to it by their racing fathers.
“I actually got my start on asphalt the last year they ran Central Texas Speedway in Kyle, Texas,” he explained. “My Dad used to race there. We even got to race against each other in my rookie season when he had a '56 Chevrolet and I had my Nova. I think he finished fourth in points, and I was seventh.
“When CTS closed down, we made the decision to go to I-37 Speedway, despite the fact neither of us had any experience on dirt. I bought a Sport Compact from Robert Kelm who had won a title at Cotton Bowl with it the previous season. I got off to a good start, and was hooked on dirt racing from there.”
There have been several drivers who've attempted the transition from asphalt to dirt and failed. Some never get it figured out, but Caulfield picked it up right away.
“The Compacts were fun, but I got hungry to run my Stock car again,” Caulfield said. “I ran the old Pure Stock class for a few years. I didn't have much success in the Pure Stock or what's now Factory Stock program, but I firmly believe this Truck series is where I'll make my mark. I've found a home.
“I love the way these trucks drive. They react well to adjustments, and fans seem to love them, as well. It's something different for them; a different look than usual and we all love our trucks anyway. So the concept is great, and the people who race here are nice. I'm having a blast and learning as we go.”
Compared to the inaugural season of 2019, the level of competition within the TDTS is much higher.
“This year there are a lot of strong guys running a truck,” Caulfield said. “You have guys like Tommy Grimes, Aaron Leddy, 2020 champion Tony Bernal, Russ Parker, they all have it together. Heck, my Dad can remember racing against Tommy back in the old asphalt days. It's tough to run up front now.
“You have rookie Colton Borlace making big gains, he's getting better every race. There is a great mix of talent in this series, and there's something to be learned from most of them.”
When Caulfield suits up, grabs his helmet and gets ready to compete, he climbs into a truck with a very interesting story of its own.
“I got this chassis from my good friend Russ Parker in Seguin,” Caulfield said. “He had it as a spare for his truck when this series was first created. He gave it to me, and we've named her Molly. I figure you should call them by name and take good care of them if you expect them to be good to you.
“It's a good piece, and we've tweaked on it a ton this year to improve the overall handling. It was Russ who kind of steered me in this direction to the TDTS, and I'm extremely happy here. We have that special camaraderie within our pit area. It's like one big traveling, happy extended family. I love it.”
Caulfield's travels with the series have already produced great memories, and one stands out.
“My father has an old U-Haul truck that's built like a garage with our pit box in it,” he explained. “So earlier this year on our way to Texana, the engine blew in that truck and we were stranded. Fellow racer Adolph Tracy hooked onto our trailer and got us to the races. We appreciated it.”
Along with that nice truck he and his Dad have developed into a solid, potentially winning ride, Caulfield also has several valued partners on board that keep him on-track and more competitive.
“I want to thank TecHLP Computer Services, Russ Parker Construction, Randolph Family Dental, TLC Graphics, Pistole's Transmissions, Harmon's BBQ, Bradzoil 10 Minute Oil Change and Willie's Homework. I couldn't do this without their support.”
This Saturday night (Oct. 9), the TDTS teams will travel to 105 Spedway in Cleveland, Texas, to put on a show and go after a trophy. Caulfield says he's ready to go and feels good about his chances there.
“I really like competing at 105,” Caulfield said. “There is all kinds of room to race and it really suits my driving style. We're pretty confident going back this weekend, we'll take what we've learned this year along with ym love for the place and see if we can hit the podium. I'm anxious to get there.
“I just want to thank Russ again for steering me in this direction, along with Bo and Mike Tracy for letting me drive their truck late last year to see if I liked these things. Our plan is to run every race again next year and make a run at the points championship. We've found a home and are having fun.”