August (By Tyson Graves)
Our sport would not be what it is if we did not have rivalries. Sometimes those rivalries we all know about and sometimes those maybe not so public rivalries come to the surface in a hurry. Almost every year there is a moment between two drivers that no one will ever forget. That is what we saw in August during the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway.
It is no surprise the Tyler Erb and Bobby Pierce are two on most talented youngsters on the national dirt late model stage. Both are not scared to get up on the wheel and put on a show for the fans. Both have won on the national levels and we can be sure that many more of them are to come from both.
Let us set the stage for this instant classic moment from 2020. We saw these two battle it out at Brownstown Speedway on the opening night of the Summer Nationals tour. Hard and clean racing resulted in Tyler Erb coming away with the win. You as a fan on the outside would never know there was anything brewing between these two. Back at Eldora Speedway just a month before during the Eldora Dirt Late Model Stream the two drivers made contact a couple times as the battled-up front for the big win. Pierce would come up one spot short and finish runner up that night. What we didn’t see from the outside is how upset this made Tyler, we would find out a couple months later how he really felt.
So now in August we are at Cedar Lake Speedway for one of the crown jewels of the late model season. We are past the halfway point of the event and once again these talented youngsters find themselves in the mix for the big win. In Bobby Pierce fashion, he started deep in the field of the 100-lap event. As the race went on like always Bobby Pierce found himself near the front of the field looking to break in to the top five. There was just one issue, Tyler Erb was doing everything he could to keep the Oakwood, IL driver behind him. Tyler had run up in the top ten most of the event.
The two drivers drove nearly side-by-side lap after lap. Tyler would have enough momentum off the corner to cut off Pierce’s assault in the high groove. This happened for what seemed like forever, then on lap 85 Pierce got into the back of Erb and sent him spinning between turns three and four. This is when the fireworks ensued at the Cedar Lake Speedway. Tyler made contact with the back corner of Pierce’s car on the back stretch trying to show his displeasure. Pierce sped away trying to elude the New Waverly, Texas driver.
This is when things got interesting as Tyler turned around and started to drive the track backwards. He met Pierce in turn two and stopped him as the cars were nose to nose. Erb them proceeded to drive up on the nose of the 32 car. The crowd at Cedar Lake erupted as Erb did this a couple times creating an image from 2020 that will not be forgotten.
Erb would back up but here came Hall of Famer Bob Pierce out on to the speedway running after the Tyler Erb machine. Bob would get to the window of the Erb machine trying to show his displeasure and what we later learned hit the kill switch to cut off power to Erb’s car. At the same time a World of Outlaw official made his way out to the Erb machine. The elder Pierce and the official both ended up tumbling away from Erb’s car as he drove off.
But the drama was a long way from over. Tyler was told over his receiver to park his car in the infield that he had been disqualified from the event. Erb pulled to the infield, as officials, including series director Casey Shuman approached his car. As the approached Tyler tried to shew them away. Shuman grabbed his steering wheel as he was in fear Tyler would get back in his car and cause more disruption to the racing event. Tyler’s car was towed off the track, officials and security was instructed to escort the hauler off the property.
Not only had Tyler been disqualified but as per Cedar Lake rules, Pierce was asked to leave the track for having a member of his crew on the track during competition. We heard two classic post-race interviews that include Erb wanting Bobby to meet him at any truck stop at any time. Erb described in his interview about his displeasure with Pierce and that he has one coming. Pierce on the other hand was collective in his interview and when asked what he would like to say to Tyler, “You can’t tell that guy anything.”
The fallout from the altercation was Tyler Erb being suspended indefinitely from all World Racing Group sanctioned events. Bob Pierce Sr was given a $1,000 penalty and one-month suspension from being at any World Racing Group sanctioned event. T-shirts, social media drama, and a rivalry was in full force and fans of both drivers stood up from their respective driver. Like I said rivalries are good for our sport and when things happen like this happens it creates moments none will ever forget.
Photo: Todd Boyd