While most racers from the Keystone State aspire to be card-carrying members of the Pennsylvania Posse, Andrew Layser has a different career path in mind—NASCAR.
Similar to the steps taken by stock car champions Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joey Logano, the 18-year-old honed his skills in quarter midgets.
After winning three QMA National titles, Layser graduated to the United States Auto Club midget ranks.
“Pennsylvania is really big with 410-winged sprint cars and modifieds, but this is the path that I wanted to do from a young age,” Layser said. “I ran quarter midgets, then ran down South with asphalt midgets in North Carolina for two years. Then I realized I wanted to get back on dirt, run the midget scene.
“We planned to run two years locally—to try and get our feet wet—and ran with Alex Bright for a year-and-a-half. I had a lot of fun doing that. Last year was the right time to move into the national scene.”
In 2019, the Collegeville, Pa., native earned rookie-of-the-year honors on USAC’s National Midget tour with Clauson-Marshall Racing before joining Tucker-Boat Motorsports for his sophomore campaign.
With the guidance of team co-owner/crew chief Chad Boat and USAC champ Chris Windom, Layser is gaining a first-class motorsports education while continuing his traditional studies on line.
“I think we’re right up there to contend with the top teams,” Layser said. “The team dynamic has gone really well, working with Chad, working with Chris. They’re all good people, and it’s cool to build a relationship with them.
“It’s a cool dynamic with me and Chris racing. I ran with him last year (at Clauson-Marshall), and we work really well together. Working with Chad has been great. He has a lot of experience behind the wheel of these race cars, and it’s good for me to bounce ideas off of him and find out what I need to do to be better. When something goes, wrong, Chad tells me not to get too down and keep my head up. And every time the feature rolls around, I feel like we’ve been right there.”
Laser has made great strides since joining Tucker Boat Motorsports in January. He scored his first podium of the season at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., in February. When the midgets last raced at Port City Raceway on May 23, Layser charged from 21st to sixth to take over the lead in the ProSource Passing Master standings. He is currently fifth in USAC Midget points.
“My first race with Tucker-Boat was at the Chili Bowl Nationals—and it has been great,” Layser said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything to be better. We hopped right in and had really good speed right away. Then, in the second race of the USAC season, I got my best finish ever (third). We’ve continued with that speed, and I think every night we’ve gotten better.”
Ultimately, Layser would like to try his hand at stock cars. He looks at NASCAR as “the pinnacle of motorsports in America” and looks to the series as his ultimate goal. Layser was expected to test a sprint car last week with Gene Franckowiak at BAPS Speedway, but the session was postponed due to weather.
Though racing remains Layser’s main focus, he continues his studies online.
“I think it’s important to pursue a degree—most likely a business degree,” Layser said. “I’ll probably transfer to Temple, whether it’s online or in-person depending on how the racing is going. There’s not a lot of people in dirt racing that have degrees, but it’s something my parents have always wanted me to do and pushed for me to have.”
Next on the schedule for Layser is Indiana Midget Week starting Tuesday at Paragon Speedway. Forty-eight midgets are entered for the 3/8-mile oval, but Layser is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really excited,” Layser said. “It’s definitely one of the best weeks of the year. It has a lot of history to it. It kind of separates the contenders from the pretenders because there are so many good cars that aren’t running for points that will be racing. I think it will be a really fun week.
“I love those weeks where we get four, five, six nights of racing. It can get grueling, but that’s what we’re here for. That’s what makes or breaks your season. I’m really looking forward to Lincoln Park and Gas City.
“Lincoln Park is a place that Chad won at, I believe two years ago. It’s a track that gets really racy for the feature and you can kind of run anywhere. That’s where Chad’s cars really shine the best are those tracks where you move around and find grip where other cars can’t. Gas City is a little bullring that I had good speed in the feature last year. It really suits my style. Another place where you can rip the top or putter around the infield tires. The cool thing about midget week is that it’s six great tracks—and I think we’ll be fast at every one of them.”