This Sunday is Father's Day and for brothers Jake and Scott Wylie it will be the first without their dad, the late seven-time Holland Speedway NASCAR Late Model champion Rick Wylie. Rick died May 3 from health complications at age 59. Since his passing and still very much in mourning, the Wylie brothers have returned to the racetrack.
Supporting their efforts from the grandstand as always is their mother Karen Wylie who along with her late husband Rick, raised their two sons into the racing way of life. Much of what the Wylie brothers know about racing has come from their parents. Karen won a season championship many years ago at Perry Speedway.
This past Saturday evening at Oswego Speedway, emotions were high as Jake (age 28) took the checkered flag in the 30-lap New York Super Stock Series main event while Scott (35) finished a strong third. It was an emotional turn of events for a family that is trying their best to deal with, and healing from, from Rick's loss.
"It was definitely a little weird racing the other night without dad there," Jake said. "It just ended up being a perfect night though. The car was awesome off the trailer and I really didn't have to make too many adjustments. It was definitely part of a long healing process that goes on. I was definitely overcome with a lot of emotion when I crossed the finish line. I'm still in kind of a disbelief. It just seems so surreal.
"I wish dad was there but I know he was with me the whole time and also Scott, watching over the both of us. Scott and I both won our heat races at Oswego Saturday and we both did great in the feature. Our mom is our biggest supporter wherever we go. She was very happy after Saturday's race but it's also very hard for her. Mom and dad have always been there for my brother and me. At Oswego Saturday, she was still there and he was there but in a different way."
For Jake, it was also a reversal of racing fortunes at Oswego after he led a race there a few years ago until felled by mechanical gremlins.
"It was pretty much redemption this past Saturday at Oswego," Jake said. "The last time I was at Oswego for the Race of Champions race about two or three years ago I had the lead and there was about 15 laps to go and my distributor ended up blowing up on me. So it was nice to turn it around."
Scott was proud of the run he turned in at Oswego as well.
"It was a great night for us at Oswego as well as my business Wylie Racing Performance," Scott said. " It was good for the family to get right back out and get a victory right away.
"It was a night of mixed emotions Saturday – a lot of highs and lows and I wish that dad was there to see it. I'm just thankful that he gave us all that he gave us when he was with us and that we can still be successful even after he passed. Our mom was there and that was awesome. It helped her also. It was a victory for her, too, and all that stuff helps the healing process."
Karen was overcome with emotion at Oswego as well.
"It was a strange feeling not having Rick there," Karen said. "It's been real hard since he died. Saturday's win for Jake was awesome and Scott did well, too. I know how much Rick wanted them to do well everywhere especially at a big track like Oswego."
Catalano ready for Lake Erie
Tommy Catalano should see some familiar faces when the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series visits Lake Erie Speedway Saturday at 6 p.m.
Expected in the field are his younger brother, Timmy, and their mother Amy.
Tommy, 21, is competing on both the ROC trail as well as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
"I'm running the ROC series when I can," Catalano said. "I'm hoping that the experience on the NASCAR tour and getting a jump-start on our season there will help give us an edge on the ROC as well. The biggest thing at Lake Erie is that it has a little bit of banking to it. It's smooth. It's good racing. You can run the top or the bottom. It's like Holland Speedway where there's two good racing grooves."
He has run seven races on the NASCAR series and had what he termed an up and down season for far. He was ninth at Wall Stadium in New Jersey on May 18 and 11th at Thompson in Connecticut on June 5.
"We went to the first three races and qualified in the top three at the first two and fourth in the other so I've been fast," he said. "But in the races we ran into some bad luck. We had a spark plug wire come off in one race and in another race I had a flat tire. These took away the kind of end to the day we were looking for. I'm starting to rally back now."