Feature Article, Stock Cars, Washington — April 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Brian Taylor at Evergreen Speedway (Issue 105)

by

Brian Taylor Mini Stocks

By Steve Heeb

Brian Taylor’s road to racing began when he brought home the race car being stored in the back of the auto shop where he was working.

“I met with the owners, saved up some money and bought it,” Brian says of purchasing the ’86 Honda Civic from Mike Marthaller Jr. over the winter.

Brian already had some experience with Mike’s JR44 Mini Stocks team as a mechanic and also had helped the Late Model race teams for NASCAR veteran Pete Harding and son Shane.

This year, Brian will be doing his own racing and hopes to be in the hunt for a rookie of the year title in the Mini Stocks at Evergreen Speedway.

“I’m going to try to finish every race,” Brian says of his goals heading into the 2014 campaign.

He says Shane helped set up the car and has been sharing tips during the off-season.

“It has helped just seeing their professionalism and the way they work,” Brian says of the Harding’s operation.

Brian also credits support from Dan Reiss at 425 Motorsports.

“When we decided to help Brian for the 2014 season, we felt proud to do so,” Dan says, noting that 425 Motorsports has to be selective in the limited number of drivers they can help from the hundreds of applications they recieve each year. “Brian is very nice, respectful and has a determination to do well in life. We feel that he will show us that same determination on the track and we are proud to have him fly our flag.”

Brian says Mike Kenyon, a former official at Evergreen Speedway, brings his motor expertise to the program.

“Getting a new car is always a challenge,” Brian says of prepping an unfamilar chassis. “We’ve rebuilt the engine and I’ve gone through the car front to back and fixed a lot of stuff.”

In addition to working on the car during the off-season, Brian had a chance to log some karting laps with Mike at Traxx in Mukilteo and K1 Speed in Monroe.

“I go to those places because it helps me figure out passing situations,” Mike says of taking Brian to the kart tracks during the offseason. “And helps to learn to push it to the limits.”

“Mike was rookie of the year,” Brian says of his teammate. “He’s been an awesome role model. He’s a good driver and he always stays calm.”

Mike had started the JR44 team in 2011 after his mother passed away as a means to help him and his father cope with the loss.

“I’ve always loved racing as my father raced at Evergreen and all over when I was a kid,” Mike says, having built his own resume in the Hornets and Mini Stocks, and currently the Street Stocks division. “Brian wanted to stay part of our team so he kept the colors and the number. That was really cool.”

Mike says from what he’s seen so far, Brian just needs to learn and trust what the car will do.

“He needs to know where and when to push the limits on the track,” Mike observes.

Brian confesses that he was a little worried his first time out on the track for practice this spring at Evergreen Speedway.

“I spun the car out twice because I wanted to find my limits,” he says of being new to driving on the race course. “Both times were unexpected as I was going into turn one. It happens really quick.”

Brian’s father Chris was not as nervous as he had thought he would be watching his son on the race track.

“I’d much rather worry about him at the track than out on the street,” says Chris, who adds that he is new to racing and more familiar with helping coach his son on the football field.

With no background to use for comparison, Brian says at first it was difficult to figure out if the car was tight or loose, but he knew it was acting finicky. It wasn’t until after he wrapped up with throttle cable issues that he discovered the shocks also were broken.

“That just changed my perspective,” he says of the practice session experience. “I’ve set up the car completely different and it feels a lot better now.”

“It’s been a real learning curve for all of us,” Chris says of getting ready for the season. “Shane helped him put the car together up at their shop in Canada. Help like that is priceless.”

“I have the people behind me to make the car better,” Brian says. “I just want the car to do what is supposed to do.”

The car sports a 1.51-liter Honda carbureted single overhead cam set up, and can be 500 pounds lighter than the non-carbureted entries.

Going into the first race of the season, Brian knew it would be different being among a full crowd of cars on the 3/8-mile oval.

“We sure are enjoying it,” his father beams. “There’s plenty of family in the stands for his first time out there.”

“I will never forget the first race,” Brian said afterward. “The track was more wet and slippery than it was at practice but once I was out there competing with the other drivers all of my worries went away.

He adds that results could have been better but as far as learning experiences go, it was priceless.

“There was a big jump between putting around on a dry day at practice to full speed with 11 other cars in the rain,” he says. “During the main race, I got a flat right rear tire and had to pull into the pits but my team was there waiting for me to get the tire changed out so I could get back out there and finish the race.”

The key will be to make progress without dwelling on minor setbacks.

“Shane told him to quit worrying about the little things,” Chris says of his son’s debut. “He reminded Brian that he still has two million more laps to go.”

“As the season progresses Brian will learn all the little things about racing,” Mike says. “And I’ll be there with him the whole way.”

“We wish the best for Brian this year and hope that we can help him for years to come,” Dan says.

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