Nearly 30-years ago a fresh faced 16-year-old from Pennsylvania realized his childhood dream when he buckled into a sprint car at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio. Those first laps Tim Shaffer took were a fun trip, something unlike what he had done before behind the wheel of the go-kart he raced at age 9, and certainly not like the motorcycles and 3-wheelers he had been in competition with for the prior 3-years. What was a new and exciting challenge for the youngster who grew up watching sprinters turned out to be the start of a new era in Sprint Car racing.
The “Steele City Outlaw” is one of the most revered 410 Sprint Car Drivers in the nation. In 1993 while most others his age were considered rookies, Tim Shaffer had 10-years of Sprint Car experience, a full-ride, and was crisscrossing the nation running competitively for a living. Now 20-years later Tim is still turning laps and turning heads, “I have been very fortunate to meet the right people and be as successful as I have been and be able to do this for a living” Exclaimed Tim before adding, “I wouldn’t want to do anything else and after all this time I still can’t sleep at night for thinking about getting these things to go faster”.
A former World of Outlaw standout Tim has definitely had a successful racing career, and although he is proud of what he has accomplished and excited for what lies ahead, 2006 was definitely a wake-up call for Tim when it came to his personal life; “I broke my neck at Knoxville in June of 2006 and it about killed me. I was just so fortunate that it fused right and healed back together and I was able to come back and do what I love for a living!” acclaimed Shaffer. Of that period in his life Shaffer simply says, “This sport will humble you in a hurry!”
With a wife (Debbie) and a then 5-year-old namesake at home Tim’s accident put many things into focus, and one of them definitely was his career and the path that it had taken, “This sport will take your time and attention and it will gobble it up if you let it”, lamented Shaffer. After over a decade on the World of Outlaws circuit in 2009 Tim made a change and began touring with the All Star Circuit of Champions. Many view the World of Outlaws as the premier Winged 410 Sprinter tour; but Shaffer doesn’t regret his switch to the more Midwestern based tour in the slightest; “The All Stars are a lot stronger than people give them credit for.” proclaimed Shaffer, “The Outlaw name will always be the Outlaw name, but we’ve got a lot of great talent here and its getting stronger. Dale [Blaney] and I ran World of Outlaws together and now we push each other here which makes us both stronger and it pushes the young kids coming up too!”
Even though the All Star Circuit is not a light one with over 50 shows annually, the races are more consolidated focusing primarily on speedways in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The tour allows Shaffer to see his Aliquippa, Pennsylvania home on a regular basis, something which he was previously unaccustomed to, “One of the benefits of doing what I have done for a living is being able to travel a lot, but sometimes it got to where I was most uncomfortable in my own bed. I had a different life and Debbie and I had a different marriage, we basically grew up with her at home and me on the road and that is hard!” Explained Tim, “its hard going through the bad times and even the good times that way. Running the All Stars has allowed me to be home more with Timmy which is so important as he is still only 11. Looking back there were 5 or 6 years where I didn’t even really know my own son and I have learned that time with my son and my wife is priceless. I love my lifestyle now and my marriage and family is stronger and I just hope that I can stay healthy and do this for a long time to come!”
Scaling back on his racing schedule hasn’t equated to complacency for Shaffer, in fact, since re-structuring his life, Tim has had some of the biggest successes of his career. He just wrapped up his 4th consecutive All Star Circuit of Champions points title, and with the championship came another stellar season for the CH (Call/Holbrook) no.83 team, “It was a good year, a great year really”, recalled Tim, “We got 7 or 8 wins on the season and were complaining because in years past we have had 10 to 12 and one season 21 victories. Although we didn’t win as much this year, we were really consistent and ran a lot of seconds and thirds. We were always in the top five and that consistency allowed us to win the championship”.
2012 was definitely a good year, and the latest in a string of amazing seasons. In 2010, Shaffer revisited the track that nearly ended not only his career but also his life, and he proved he had no fear for the holy grail of sprint car racing; Knoxville Speedway when he took the double checkered for the premier event in Sprint Car racing. As Shaffer recalled with a grin, “There is nothing that can ever compare to Knoxville and the Nationals. It is our Indy 500 or Super bowl. It was amazing and hard to describe. I think it took me a full week to realize it really did happen and it wasn’t just a dream. The money was really nice but not many people have that trophy and I have it sitting in my game room!”
Even though Tim has changed touring series’ he is by no means resting on his laurels; instead, with 2012 barely in the books he is prepping for 2013 with an Australian tour planned before the official season kicks off in Florida in mid-February.
As for going to the land down under, Tim is very excited for the change of scenery and the competition that awaits him there; “Boy! The Sprint Cars are just taking off in Australia, it’s like it was here in the states 20-30 years ago.” Exclaimed Tim before continuing, “We used to be able to go there and take our beat up stuff and kick some butt, but today they have some really good stuff. They have really stepped upped and worked hard to get the sport going. It is pretty neat to see and I feel fortunate to be able to fly down there and go race with them!”
In addition, if he doesn’t get enough racing action thrills from the cockpit of his Sprinter, he always gets another chance on Wednesday nights with a go-kart. The Shaffer’s recently purchased 150 acres outside of Pittsburg where they built their new residence, there the family enjoys the outdoors, riding 4-wheelers and relaxing. In addition to that, it is also where Tim plays on his own track. A go-kart track he built for his Wed. night karting league where about 15 of his friends get together and test their skills.
For Tim Shaffer, racing isn’t just a hobby, it’s not just a career, it is who he is and what he loves and when it comes to his future, he says with a smile, “I want to do this for another 10-years. I just want to be healthy and be competitive winning races and championships, because to be honest if you can’t do that in one of these cars they are just no fun!”
After such a successful 2012, Shaffer and the guys on the no.83 team are sure to have plenty of fun in 2013.