Posted in  Car Features, Features

Jeff Taylor’s Incredible 2012

Every track has their hot shoes, when drivers see their trailers pull in they know they will have to fight to stay up front. That was the case this season with Cave City, Arkansas’ “Animal” Jeff Taylor, as he wheeled his Taylor Chassis/Industrial Electric/Mullins Race Engines #5 Modified into victory lane ten times, two of them at the largest IMCA races of the year. “This season has been one of those where everything seems to have gone right and not wrong,” commented Taylor.

[quote align=”alignright” width=”200″]The last time we left the Super Nationals was on a tractor and I wasn’t farming, it was pretty ugly – Jeff Taylor[/quote]

Taylor’s season has been phenomenal in more than one respect. Aside from being behind the wheel, he is the mastermind behind Taylor Chassis; manufacturing and building Modified chassis, and providing setup expertise and an array of parts for his customers. “We’ve built five or six cars this season and have eight to build when we get home. It’s been pretty crazy, and it gets overwhelming but in a good sense we have job security and that means we can race more next year which I am excited about,” stated Taylor. “We get so busy in the winter building cars that we generally can only run around home in March and April. It really isn’t until May that I can get loose and focus on racing. I try to run non-stop from June through the end of November.”

How It All Began

Taylor began his racing career in 1996 in a Modified and has since picked up numerous victories in various divisions and sanctioning bodies. He competed within the MARS Super Late Model Series from 2000-2006, finishing 7th in points the inaugural season and won his first series race on April 14th, 2000 at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway. The following season he broke into the top five in points with a fourth place finish after finding Victory Lane twice. The following years brought such success, finishing as runner-up in 2004, the same year he won in Arizona during “Early Thaw.”  He currently sits seventh in all-time MARS wins with ten.

His first career win came behind the wheel of a Modified, his fifth and final time out in 1996. Throughout his time with MARS, he continued racing the open wheel modifieds, and even finding success winning the Inaugural Modified World Championship, a career highlight, in 2001. He added a Kenny Wallace race night modified Feature event to his resume in 2005, along with a second place finish in the Sooner Modified Roundup that was worth $10,000. His success throughout the years have been noteworthy, but nothing would compare to the year he strung together in 2012.

The Beginning Of His Banner Year

Taylor started his season off strong in his home state sweeping the IMCA Mid America Modified Championship at Batesville Speedway in March. Taking the month of April off, he backed the solid start with a third win at Glyndon, Minnesota’s Buffalo River Race Park during the four day Labor Day Weekend Advantage RV Modified Tour. The Dakota Classic Modified Tour in June brought three more wins finishing second in the week long point’s battle.

Image Credit: BMR Photos

Taylor added three top ten finishes to his season stats in August before heading to Boone, Iowa for the 30th annual IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals at Boone Speedway. “The last time we had left here was on a tractor and I wasn’t farming – it was pretty ugly,” Taylor said.

Tears In Victory Lane

2012 was a completely different Super Nationals story for the father of two, as he started the big dance from eighth place and methodically worked his way through the field. Late into the race he had maneuvered his way into second sitting behind fellow chassis builder Brandon Blochinger. With two laps to go he caught Blonchinger and made the pass putting him into victory lane for one of the most prestigious wins of his career; becoming the first driver from Arkansas to do so.

Jeff Taylor Super Nationals

Jeff Taylor in Victory Lane at Super Nationals (Image Source;

“We came back to Super Nationals with the goal of getting back into the show and I had an awesome car to do it with. I’ve never cried in victory lane, but after tonight I can’t say that anymore,” commented Taylor in a post-race interview. “I built this car and raced it at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas last year,” he added. “I may park it in my yard now. I don’t know if I ever want to get rid of it.”

“The first night we had a driver error. I screwed up,” he commented, looking back on the most memorable trip of his season as he started the week off spinning out. “Our week turned around and some of the local racers helped me out. We had a decent car all week but I don’t know if it was the best car but in the feature everything fell into place. I will remember that deal for the rest of my life. To go down to the last couple of laps and race for the win knowing it wasn’t handed to us, it’s phenomenal.”

IMCA Fall Nationals Victory

Jeff Taylor at RPM Speedway

Image Source: Dirt Track Central

Following Boone, Taylor traveled to Rolling Plains Motor Speedway in Hays, Kansas on October 12th and 13th for the 6th annual IMCA Modified Fall Nationals and parked in victory lane for the eighth time in the season for $5,000.

Taylor beat out sixty-three competitors on the weekend. In preliminary action he started strong with a heat race win coming from eighth place to take the lead on the first lap locking himself into the second of four qualifier main events. He took the green flag and walked away from the field awarding him with a third place starting position in Saturday night’s finale. It only took six laps for him to make his charge to the front and went uncontested with Terry Phillips and Dominic Ursetta trailing him across the line.

“To be able to win both Super Nationals and Fall Nationals is a really good feeling,” stated Taylor. “Naturally I want to win, but our goal is to just run good. We had a good car all weekend in Hays and all year for that matter. When you have a good pit crew and sponsors it takes a lot of the pressure off of yourself and allows you to focus more on the race.”

Taylor headed west and competed at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Tucson International Speedway in Tucson, and Arizona later in October for their Fall Nationals, each paying out $10,000 to the feature event winner.

Image Source: Dirt Track Central

Sixty-five competitors checked in at Southern New Mexico Speedway for the first round of preliminary races. Taylor quickly got to work, moving from the tail end of his heat race into second place, placing him seventh on the starting grid for the preliminary main event. He advanced into fourth place locking himself into Sunday evening’s feature event. Battling in the top ten the duration of the finale, Taylor crossed the line fourth behind Terry Phillips, Johnny Scott and Fito Gallardo.

In Tucson, Arizona Taylor recorded a 19th and sixth place finish in preliminary action and raced his way forward in Sunday evening’s finale to a seventh place finish.

Taylor took one week off to regroup before heading to Nevada’s Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 15th annual Duel in the Desert in search for an IMCA “Triple Crown.” Over 250 of the biggest names in Modified racing made the trip to Sin City Veterans Day weekend for preliminary action and Taylor put his name at the top of them all on night one.

Starting fourth in the eighth heat race on the first night, Taylor quickly took the lead and pulled away from the field locking him into the night’s preliminary main event. From the pole he drove away from the field when the green flag dropped claiming his ninth victory of the season and locking him into Saturday’s feature event.

Taylor started third on the grid for the finale and went three wide on the first lap with front row starters Jason Noll and Jay Noteboom. He dove to the bottom and came out on top exiting turn four. Behind him Jeremy Payne closed the door and made the pass for top spot with Hanson and Noteboom following. Taylor tried to battle back moving around the track in search of a fast line but fell back to fifth place when the double checkered flags fell.

Central Arizona Raceway reopened their doors Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in a handful of years for the 8th annual Wes Hurst Memorial with Taylor on hand to complete his 2012 campaign. He competed on Friday night only to fly out to the IMCA Banquet in Nebraska on Saturday night and fly back for Sunday’s finale.

Friday night Taylor finished fifth in the preliminary main event securing him a ninth place position on the starting grid for Sunday’s $5,000 finale. Moving through the field, Taylor made the pass for the lead and went uncontested to secure his tenth triumph of the season.

Image Source; BMR Photos

2013 And Beyond

Image Source:

With the off season now in full swing for Taylor he will be hard at work building Taylor Chassis throughout the winter. This past year he attended two schools, Dale McDowell’s Driving School and Mark Bush Racewise Chassis School and Front Suspension Geometry where he was certified. “Those two schools are the best thing I have done for my career,” stated Taylor who has been to 11 schools taught by his friend Mark Bush since 1998. “I have never been able to take in all of the information at Mark’s school. The past few years I have gotten to where I understand. I have really learned how to tune my car and whenever I doubt myself I give Mark a call or send him a text. I would recommend his school to anyone; you really learn the technical side of things.”

As far as the 2013 season, Taylor plans on running the Wild West Shootout at Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande, Arizona in January with the possibility of Winter Extreme at Tucson International Raceway the following week. Beyond that his schedule will look the same as he will race around home early in the season before going to North Dakota and racing for a client and trying to defend his IMCA Super Nationals and Fall Nationals titles.

“I’m fine with racing 30-40 times a year. I have a wife and two kids and don’t know if I want to stay away from home to run 80-90 events a year, though I want to do it one time. This past year we ran 20-30 races, and ran top five in almost every one. I would rather race less and produce results,” stated Taylor.

“I want to thank my crew, Wade, Tim, Norm, Trevor, and Cole as well as everybody back home,” Taylor commented. “These guys make it all happen with all those hours throughout the year finally paying off. My primary sponsors Industrial Electric, Allgayer Inc., Provence Construction, New Vision Graphics, Mullins Race Engines, JnC Rental, Hypercoils, Bob Harris Shocks, Rockin Roddy Ranch, and last but not least my wife, Melissa, and my kids, Cole and Darcie for allowing me to do what I love . They sacrifice a lot for me to race. I may never have another year like this ever again, but I’m fine with that because we accomplished a lot. After 16 years of racing I finally feel like a champion. What a feeling!”

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