Timothy Peters is a rarity in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage.
In a series known for quick turnarounds and underfunded teams, Peters has managed to spend the better part of a decade earning success with Red Horse Racing, one of the sport’s strongest and most stable teams in that division. Since joining the team in 2009, Peters has earned eight victories, including at least one win in each consecutive season.
Having been in the Truck Series for just over a decade, Peters has seen the series – and himself – grow and change throughout the years. Peters, 34, sat down with Frontstretch prior to racing at Michigan International Speedway to discuss his success, family, and his plans for the next decade.
Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch: Alright, let’s make things simple and easy to start off. Just explain how you got to where you are now. A lot of people don’t know your back story.
Timothy Peters: It was basically don’t take no for an answer. My father got me started racing in go-karts back in ’89. We ran those from ’89 to ’94. My Christmas present in ’94 was a legends car. From ’95 to ’97 we ran a legends car. Keep in mind, in go-karts we won 200 victories and 10 national championships. We won over 70 times with a legends car, a couple of championships with that.
You know, I came from a blue-collar family that just really worked, sacrificed everything we had to get me where I’m going, so it was like… If I want to go to the next step, it was left up to me. In ’97 I got a break driving for Steve Billmyer with the help of Rick Hendrick in a late model stock car at your local Saturday night Orange County, South Boston, Ace Speedway-type tracks. From ’97 to 2004 I was able to play musical chairs with late model stock car owners; Billmyer, Butch Maid, Goo Fallen, who the Burton brothers drove for.
In 2002, we started a team with Mack Bailey and Bailey’s Tobacco, and that’s when all my success started coming. We won three championships in a row in 2002, ’03 and ’04, and they gave me my big break in the Truck Series, which was Craftsman at the time, in 2005. I’ve been able to be in this garage area for 10 years, and I’m very thankful for that 10 years because sometimes it’s hard to do.
Bearden: What has it been like to spend the last six years with Red Horse Racing? Obviously, this series sees a lot of new faces every year. What’s it been like to be with this one team? How did that come to be, and how’s it been to have that consistency?
Peters: I knew who Tom [DeLoach] was, but I put a face with that name in 2009 at Daytona and just stayed in contact, you know? Again, persistence. It might’ve been a type of deal to where every time I called, he might say, ‘Oh man, I’m tired of him wearing me out,’ but Tom took a chance on me in June. To come here (to Michigan) and race – this was my first race – that’s when Michigan was right after Texas. It was the best move that I’ve ever made. He’s like family, like a dad. We’ve had a lot of great success together, getting my first wins here, then getting all of my wins here. Missing the championship by six points in 2012 was definitely a highlight year, but going to Victory Lane every year since joining the team is very special. I think I’ve joined the very few people in the garage area that have consistency and wins every year. I just hope we keep that going.
Bearden: You mention Michigan being your first race with RHR. Does that make this place more special to you when you return each year?
Peters: It does, because of how everything unfolded. It was very special for me, but the way the schedule works out now, we’re later into the year, so actually Texas was kind of where everything was being talked about. Every time I go to Texas it’s kind of a throwback on how everything was kind of brainstorming to come together.
Bearden: You mentioned being so close to a championship a few years ago and your persistence, how you keep pushing. Does coming that close motivate you to keep pushing, to excel beyond what you’ve done in the past?
Peters: Yeah. We definitely want that championship. I think everybody under the Red Horse umbrella deserves it, whether it’s through me or Ben [Kennedy]. Everybody works really hard and when you get oh-so close, it makes you drive harder. But again, racing is the type of deal to where you have to be smart about how you race, put yourself in good positions, and luck plays a part in that as well. We’re probably out of championship contention, so hopefully we can hang on a few more years and be able to get one if possible. If we can get back to the top five, it would be a good momentum booster over the offseason to break out at Daytona back in February and give 2016 a run for their money. But, you never know. Look at Pocono a couple weeks ago with the frontrunners. They wanted to wreck each other. You never want to wish anybody bad luck, but if we can keep being consistent, sometimes their misfortune is our fortune.
Bearden: You brought up Ben Kennedy. Obviously, he comes from some NASCAR royalty of sorts. What has the experience been like working with him?
Peters: It’s been cool. Ben’s very switched on, very engaged not only with the race vehicle but with life in general. It’s been very cool for us to be teammates. We bounce ideas off of each other. After every practice we go down and debrief. And I think it speak volumes that – as big as the figure that Ben is – I think it speaks volumes for Red Horse that he came and joined our team. I feel like we’re two big figures in the garage area and I just hope we keep growing that.
Bearden: There’s been a lot of pushing from fans to bring the Truck Series back to its roots on short tracks. Coming from a short-track background, is that something that you would like to see NASCAR push? Would you want to see more standalone races at tracks like Hickory, Langley, etc.?
Peters: Yeah! I definitely would like to see the schedule get back to 25 (races). To me, however you look at it, this is the best racing – in my opinion, I’m biased, of course – of the three major series. We put on great shows, we’re very fan friendly, not that the other series aren’t. I mean, look out there now. Look how many fans are going through the garage area wanting to meet these guys, and you’ve got Cup qualifying going on. That ought to tell you right there how popular this garage is. Hopefully, it’s an eye-opener and some of us will see and we can get the right decisions to get back to some of the racetracks that really made this series.
Bearden: What would you say has been your most significant achievement so far?
Peters: Probably getting my first win in my backyard, which is Martinsville, in ’09. You ask anybody in here, in this garage area, where they want to win at and they’ll say they want to win at home.
Bearden: Have you ever had any urge to move up to the Xfinity Series or Sprint Cup Series, or would you prefer to stay in the Truck Series? You’ve had a lot of longevity with the Trucks.
Peters: I like it. I like the home that I’m in. You know, I’ll be 35 at the end of this month, so my window of opportunity is closing. It’s not a make or break for me. It isn’t a type of deal to where I’m like, ‘oh my goodness, I’m closing in on 40. I haven’t ran a Cup race yet.’ I’m married. I’ve finally started my family. Racing is what I love to do, but I love my family, too. I get to see them a lot. Obviously, we’re all human. If something comes across the table, I would definitely look at it. But as long as I can continue my career here at Red Horse, I’m perfectly happy.
Bearden: How much longer do you hope to run in the Truck Series? Do you feel you could go for another decade?
Peters: You would say that you feel like you have another 10 years in you at least. If I had my crystal ball I would definitely tell you that for sure, but there’s a lot of unknowns in this series. That’s what makes it so stressful and challenging. I’ve always excelled at a challenge. I try my best to deal with the stress in the best way possible, and try to make up for it on the racetrack.
Bearden: If there was one goal you had to set for yourself in the time you have left in NASCAR, what would it be? Is it a championship?
Peters: Yes. Without a doubt. I’ve went to Victory Lane – the experience there is very cool – but I want to be the one reading the teleprompter and the last one to go at the banquet.
Bearden: It’s been a difficult year for Red Horse Racing. You and Ben Kennedy have both had your share of DNFs and issues. Do you feel like it’s just been things outside of your control, or do you feel like it’s something this team can grow from?
Peters: Yeah, I think you kind of answered the question for me. It’s just something that you have to grow from. It’s going to happen. It goes back to NASCAR, goes back to our guys at the shop building these safe trucks. (Kennedy’s hit at Kentucky) was a pretty violent hit, especially after the wreck with the No. 3 (of Austin Dillon at Daytona) earlier that week. You just have to move on from it.
Bearden: Outside of your life beyond racing, what’s something you love to do away from the track?
Peters: Well, right now my home life is very wide open because of a two-year-old and what’s fixing to be a two-month-old. Like I said earlier, I’m starting my family. Anytime I can hang out with my friends, I do that, but we’re getting into the bulk of our schedule, so anytime that we have a day off, I try not to wander away. Just take it easy.