Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Tyler Hines

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Tyler Hines Inherited His Grandfather’s Love of Racing 

Tyler Hines of North Haven was exposed to racing at an early age. His grandfather George “Butch” Hines, Sr. raced. And a close family friend, Frank Ruocco, raced at Stafford Speedway. After seeing his grandfather, Ruocco and Ruocco’s son Jesse race, Hine’s begged to get behind the driver’s seat. He started in the Wild Thing Karts at age 11 competing at Stafford for five years. He graduated to the SK Light Modified division in 2012 and moved to the SK Modified ranks in 2015. This year Hines started his seventh year with the Stafford SK Modifieds by winning the NAPA Spring Sizzler. The Sizzler victory was Hines first SK Modified career victory. With a new team and backing in 2021, Hines finally has a car that he believes will bring him a tick above others.  Hines is driving for a team launched for the 2021 season by the Meyhoefer family, owners of the company Tick Mike’s Organic Tick and Mosquito Spray. 

What made you get interested in racing?

“My grandfather, George ”Butch” Hines, Sr. raced back in the day at West Haven Speedbowl in West Haven, CT.  And then a close family friend, Frank Ruocco used to race at Stafford Speedway and we would come up and watch him. I have always been interested in working on cars and been around cars.

“Then we came to watch the Go-Karts. I was fortunate enough to get into a Go-Kart and that is how it got started. After that I moved to the SK Lights for three seasons and then I moved to the SK division. I have raced at Stafford for pretty much my whole career.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Which type of racing do you like the best? 
“I like Modified racing: Short Track, Tour, Tri-Track, and Open Modified, all of it. So all Modified racing is definitely my favorite, I think that the competition is high. And in any given week you have ten drivers that can win in a lot of these divisions.” 

Would you say racing is your hobby? Or is it Ice hockey? 

“I would not classify either of them as hobbies. Hockey was the first sport that I played in. It is a really competitive sport and I was able to play in college. Racing is another sport for me. It is another level of competition, so I would say it is much more than a hobby. It is a very competitive sport and we take it very seriously. We treat it like a business basically every week.” 

Tell me about your first SK Modified win on May 24 at NAPA Opening Day at Stafford?

“It was just an incredible feeling. In comparison it feels like you won the Stanley Cup for hockey. There is nothing better. Just to be able to race against the best and come on top you cannot beat that. I am looking now to get back [into Victory Lane]. I want that now more than ever. I think that it is something I am capable of and this car is capable of getting there.” 

Leading the SK Modified Points chase by 14 points over Todd Owen before the May 21 racing card at Stafford. Your thoughts on that? 

“It is a good feeling but it is early, there is a lot of season left. It feels good. I think that we have been racing pretty consistent. But you have to do that for the whole season. We need a lot of top fives and keep the car clean to finish all the races. The Championship sorts itself out at the end of the year. Our goal right now is to be competing for wins week in and week out.” 

(Editor’s Note: Hines finished 17th in the May 21 SK Modified feature at Stafford and now sits second in the SK Modified division standings, 12 points behind Todd Owen)

How does the competition compare in the various Modified divisions you watch? 

“The SK Modified division is better because you have a lot more guys that are experienced. You compete against some of the best Modified drivers in the Northeast. Probably even some of the best drivers in the East. So you are competing against the best week in and week out. The SK Lights have a lot of drivers that are learning and they will be there soon. Even the young guys that come up into the SK’s, they have a lot of speed. So it does not matter who you race against, they are all pretty fast and all have experience.” 

What are your goals for 2021? 

“Short term goal every week is to be competing up front. And hopefully pick up a couple more wins as the season goes on. It would be awesome to win the championship. There is still a long season to go. So we will worry about that as it gets closer. For right now I will keep the car clean and keep competing up front”. 

What racing memory stands out above all others for you? 

That is tough to pick just one. It certainly was my first ever win in an SK Light. It really was incredible because it was my first win ever on a big track here at Stafford. Then I think that my first SK Modified win still tops that feeling. It was just a long off season putting this car together, there was a lot of hard work. Even the years that we were struggling, the same level of effort was put in. It is nice when you finally get the reward to pay off all the hard work.”

How is driving for the Meyhoefer family team? 

I am fortunate enough to be able to drive this car owned by Petty Cash Motorsports, Tick-Mike and huge thanks to Ginny Deluca and all of them. We are one big family at this point. We always talk and hang out and have a good time at the shop. We try to also have a good time at the race track. It is a good atmosphere and we try to bring it with us every week. It helps keep the stress levels down some in a pretty stressful sport. “ 

Who are your primary sponsors for 2021 season?

“Tick Mike, K&P Landscaping Wheelers Auto, Champs Boxing of Danbury, Pettit Race Engines and Keith Rocco Racing (KRR).”

The No. 85 for a car number, where did it come from? 

That number was actually chosen by Tick Mike. When you add the two numbers up it actually comes to the number 13. He was always a big Teddy Christopher fan. So it pays a little homage to him and the sport that he competed in.  So again he is a big Teddy Christopher fan.” (Also note that Tyler Hines was born in 1994. 9+4=13)

Why is Chase Elliott your favorite race personality?

“I like how he races. He is pretty clean I like someone who us going to race you and beat you pretty straight up and not crash and bang. His racing demeanor is pretty awesome. He puts a lot of ownage on himself to make sure that he is performing, and he is not afraid to admit when he has messed up. And that is tough to do as a driver! It is hard to be the one to admit that you messed up. I just like his whole demeanor when he races. He is reserved and does not call a lot of problems. To me I like that personality. “


  1. I like the never give up attitude that he has shown for many years racing. Now he is seeing some good results for all his hard work.. Just wonder why his car is all black with all the sponsors he has?

  2. The Tick Mike car is unique. Simple black and a number you can’t even read easily. You know it’s Hines because when other teams busy up their cars with an array of graphics easily accomplished with wraps the simple black is unique and easy to pick out. I love it. Wish other teams would consider simplifying their graphics to make numbers easier to pick out and perhaps consider more variations then black and red. I know they look spectacular close up and they do.

  3. The car is flat black and the sponsors are all on there in shiny black with red numbers , not sure of the reason but it’s not a good look .JMO

  4. Awesome job piloting your new car. You’re off to a great start. Tyler is an excellent hockey talent as well. Keep up your hard work.

  5. Is it not a good look? Sure it that’s your opinion and it can’t be wrong.
    What is a good look and what is the goal of car owners when they decide what colors and graphics to put on their car? Is the goal to be a bad ass looking hot rod up close cause I gotta say mission accomplished. Over the decades and decades I’ve been following racing virtually all the cars in every division have never looked better in terms of quality and presentation. At a cost however that being uniqueness. The very essence of the racing experience in my view.
    As a fan I have only one interest viewing races. Identify cars as quickly as possible all through the field. Whether you’re at the track or viewing at home the challenge is the same. You’re flitting back and forth through the field to see various cars you’re interested in as fast as you can to see the progress they’re making.
    Rocco, William, Ruffrano, Kopcik and Christopher all darker colors with busy graphics and numbers hard to identify except perhaps for the distinctive 82. Owen at least is primarily white although once again they make the number nearly impossible to read in motion using shadow on the numbers. White common so he’s not so easy to pick out either. Good look up close, impractical from 75 plus feet.
    Ryan Fearn, Cassandra Cole, Chris Myer, Dowling’s 22, Tom Fearn, Moeller’s Late Model, Al Saunders, the Bessette and Bennett Lights examples of easy to identify cars.
    Racers frequently like to think of themselves as rebels doing something most people don’t dare to and they’re right on that. When it comes to colors, graphics and car presentation as a group they tend to be more like sheep gravitating to the most common colors and graphics. In the end the field looks like blur of barf with all kinds of colors so intertwined it’s real work to pick out the cars you are interested in.
    Tour mods and the NWMT are not at issue since they’re universally popular. Down the racing food chain the goal is to be fast first and then noticed and recognized for it. Not just leading the field but moving through it. I don’t care about graphics. What I don’t want to be doing is wasting seconds trying to figure out if I’m looking at Rocco or Ruffrano moving through the field.
    I’d say be a rebel and come up with a distinctive car. Less graphics, different colors, keep the numbers big with no shadow. It helps the long time knowledgeable fan but more importantly gives the first time fan a unique look to pick out an root for. Kid’s especially identify with simple unique images they can follow easily. Eldridges 34 tour mod would be a good example.
    But it will never happen. It’s their car and they can darn well do as they please. If that means telling the wrap guys to load it up with a bunch of similar graphics and colors that can’t be distinguished long distance why not. The sponsors who also can’t be distinguished as overlays over cool graphics don’t care so why should any fan. It looks really cool in the shop or in the paddock working on it and that’s the important thing.
    Which brings me back to Hines. Black is common. Being bold enough to not load it up with other colors and graphics is bold. Only 4 races in the black car with the red number I can’t even read is a primary interest and easy to find. I even associate the uniqueness with Tick Mike even though it’s not readily distinguishable on the car at long distance.
    Powder coat, wraps and graphics. You’re going to sameness yourselves into one indistinguishable kaleidoscope of colors, Where nothing is unique any more and sponsors only hope is for Ben Dodge to mention them cause you can’t make them out on the car.

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