COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – There’s arguably no driver in the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series field more excited for Pennsylvania Midget Week than home-state driver Andrew Layser.
Layser, 18, is in the midst of his first full season on the USAC trail and currently sits just two markers behind California’s Jesse Colwell in the series’ rookie-of-the-year standings.
Overall, the Collegeville, Pa., native is 12th in points – not necessarily where he expected to be heading into the back half of the season – but hoping to pick up some much-needed momentum this week.
Doing so in front of an energetic, hometown crowd would just be an added bonus.
“This week is pretty cool for me,” Layser told SPEED SPORT. “Obviously, the fans love it whenever the midgets or sprint cars come to town. Pennsylvania fans always show out and it’s always a great show, no matter which track you go to, even though it has been affected by rain some the past few years. It’s always great whenever you get to go on track in front of a home crowd, and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m ready to have fun and chase some wins; those are the two main goals for this week.”
The good news for Layser is that unlike most of the year to this point, where he’s been visiting most of the tracks for the first time, he’s raced on all but one of the Pennsylvania Midget Week facilities at some point in his young career – including an eighth-place run at Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in 2018.
“It’s nice to finally be getting to go to a few tracks that I do have some experience on; I think that will help me a lot this week,” noted Layser. “I really like the (Pennsylvania Midget Week) schedule this year, not just for me, but for everyone. I think it’s a good mix of tracks that will really put on some great racing for the fans that come out to watch us. From my side, though, I do have plenty of good midget and micro experience at Linda’s (Speedway) and Lanco, and the same with Path Valley (Speedway).
“Grandview is actually my home track, but I’ve never raced there,” he added. “I’ve been going there ever since I was five and it’s where my family background in racing was born, so I’m really excited to get to go there in particular and finally see it from the other side of the fence for the first time.”
However, of the five Pennsylvania Midget Week venues on this year’s slate, there’s one track in particular that stands out to the Keystone State teenager and recent high-school graduate.
“Kutztown (Action Track USA) is such a crazy and fun track; I’ve raced there in a micro plenty of times and to have USAC going there is pretty awesome, in my opinion,” Layser said. “When I first heard the murmurs and rumors that it might happen, I was pretty pumped up, but to know we’re going there this week is fun just thinking about. It’s a place I know; I’ve been going there the last two years or so.
“It’ll be a great race. It’s a small track, but I feel like it’s wide enough that drivers will be able to make moves.”
As someone who grew up in Pennsylvania, Layser recognizes the immense passion that his home fans have for motorsports of all kinds, but particularly at the grassroots, dirt-track level.
“It’s just a special place for racing. Winged sprint cars are huge out there – that’s what you see at most Pennsylvania tracks on a weekly basis – so whenever USAC comes in with non-winged sprint cars or the midgets, the fans really eat it up,” Layser explained. “It’s something special that only happens once or twice a year, and I think that makes the fans appreciate it more and gives them some extra bang for their buck, so to speak.
“It’s a great fanbase, really passionate, and I’m excited to get back there and see a lot of old friends and family members.”
Despite the extra intensity that a home race brings, Layser isn’t looking at it as extra weight on his shoulders, but rather as an opportunity to have some extra fun along the way.
“There’s always pressure in racing, and it’s ramped up a little bit when you have expectations, but for me this week is more of a homecoming,” he said. “I’m just hoping to find success and enjoy the ride.”