PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Chad Boat has been notably absent from NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series competition of late, and as it turns out, that’s somewhat by design.
The 27-year-old son of 1998 Indianapolis 500 polesitter Billy Boat confirmed to Sprint Car & Midget he is scaling back his driving efforts to devote more of his focus to the growth of Tucker-Boat Motorsports, the midget racing operation he co-owns with Corey Tucker.
Boat’s most recent driving appearance came during the 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in late September. Since then, he’s turned the controls of his No. 84 over to Gio Scelzi, who earned fast time at Tri-State Speedway and a win at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway.
While it’s a different role than what fans have been used to seeing Boat in over the past few years, the Arizona native said he’s at peace with the change.
“That’s definitely where I’m headed,” Boat said of scaling back his schedule behind the wheel. “With the program we build, I think we have the caliber of drivers that can go out there and win night in and night out, and I’ll kind of take a step back, which is something I’m definitely comfortable with.
“I’m excited about it, to be honest,” he added. “When you bring guys to the track that can win night in and night out, it makes a lot easier to not be driving one myself.”
Boat’s team has grown from a single car, which he drove himself three years ago, to a multi-car powerhouse that contends for victories nearly on a weekly basis.
Tucker-Boat Motorsports fielded four cars — for Scelzi, Christopher Bell, Aaron Reutzel and Dillon Welch — during this week’s Elk Grove Ford Hangtown 100 at Placerville, with the quartet all making the features both Tuesday and Wednesday.
It was a stark contrast to Clauson-Marshall Racing, whose four full-time drivers all missed the show Tuesday night, and Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, where half of its drivers failed to make the opening-night grid.
In Boat’s eyes, however, this kind of success and potency has always been the long-term goal.
“Ever since I came back to midget racing, this has always been the goal, is to continue to build the program and make it into something like this,” he noted. “Obviously, it’s probably happening quicker than I would have expected, but it’s very rewarding nonetheless. We’re definitely excited about all the partners we have on, with Pristine Auction, K&C Drywall, Toyota Racing … and some other exciting things coming in the future at the Chili Bowl with different partners we’re going to have out there.
“We’re looking forward to all of that; I’d say you’re seeing a really great time for Tucker-Boat Motorsports.”
Boat knew the road to getting an all-star cast of drivers would be a long one, but that road he set out on back in 2016 has finally come to fruition.
“Obviously it’s taken some time to build … and there’s always growing pains when you expand cars, but we’ve made it now to where it’s an exciting stretch here with the caliber of drivers that we have right now,” Boat said. “We proved what we’re capable of and that’s what you have to do when you want to bring the best of the best on board. All our guys right now are proven winners and we’re gonna hopefully rack up some more wins as we go along.
“Obviously, having guys like Christopher and Aaron, they know what they want in a car. They’re professionals and I even include Gio in that. He’s a professional race car driver and guys like that really do know what they want,” Boat added. “If we give that to them, they go out and get the job done.”
As for when he might be back behind the wheel next, Boat didn’t have a definitive answer.
He tipped that returning as a driver for marquee events, like the upcoming Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in January, is “the plan” depending on how team partnerships come together over the next few weeks.
However, he didn’t necessarily say he’d miss full-time driving as he moves into his more-managerial role, saying that helping other drivers to succeed is “definitely rewarding in the same way” as racing.
“I think you still get that same feeling of accomplishment and reward and it’s even a little bit more rewarding when you’re able to help someone else succeed, at least I do,” Boat added. “We’ll just keep doing the best we can and see how we can close this year out.”