Scott Taylor (left) with fellow retiree Curt LeDuc who also decided to call it quits for short-course racing at Crandon.?>
Authors: Craig Perronne and Jordan Powell Photo: Boyd Jaynes
While the up-and-coming young guns of our sport have been getting lots of attention lately, there are plenty of veterans who were making their marks on short-course racing before most of those young whippersnappers were just a gleam in their daddy’s eye. The saying goes that old age and treachery can overcome youth and skill anytime, but with the amount of seat time and experience these veterans possess, little treachery is needed and they are indeed formidable opponents behind the wheel.
Among those skilled veterans is Scott Taylor who has been racing in the dirt since 1973. Let’s just let this fact sink in for a minute: Taylor has been racing short-course for longer than Sheldon Creed and Bradley Morris have both been alive. But now, after 40 years of racing, Taylor has finally decided to hang up his helmet for the last time so that he can focus on other aspects of his life. We caught up with Taylor at his retirement party in Crandon to look back on his career, along with hearing his thoughts on the present and future. Happy retirement Scott!
Dirt Sports: You’ve been doing short-course racing for a long time. For some of our readers who might not know, when did you first get started in off-road racing, and how?
Scott Taylor: When I was a kid, I worked at a machine shop, and I also had a little side business going on, working on Volkswagens from my home. The guy who I used to buy my parts from was Phil Reusche, Mike’s father. Well, Phil would have me build some stuff for him, and one day he said, “Scott, one day you need to come to one of our off-road races.” It sounded like a great idea, so I showed up to spectate at a race in Edgerton, Wisconsin. After the race, Phil asked me what I thought about the races, and I told him that I needed to buy one of those chassis. Sure enough, I was up to my ears in building a racecar just two weeks later. Well, in the fall of 1973 I entered my first race, and I didn’t do so well. I was pretty discouraged, but I came back out in the spring and I won my third event. From then on, I was absolutely hooked. I mean, here I am 40 years later and I’m finally giving it up.
DS: What were some of the biggest highlights in your career, personally?
ST: Coming to Crandon has always been a highlight. In 2002, I had a really successful year at Crandon winning the Governor’s Cup in the spring, and then I won the BorgWarner Cup in the fall. To top it off, I won both championships, and I got two rings out of the deal. That was probably one of my biggest highlights in my career. Early on in my career, I won at the Riverside International Raceway two times in a Class 2 car. Riverside treated me really well in the 11 years I went there. I think for me, it was always a lot of fun to go out to California to race there and be with all of my friends and family. Winning at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada, with 45,000 fans rocking the top off the place, was pretty amazing. We’ve traveled all over heck to race off-road, but Crandon has always been home to me.
DS: What led to the decision to call it done?
ST: Well, I’m 57 years old. I still have the ability to race, but I have a lot of business stuff working in my favor. So, I don’t really want to get hurt. I have two daughters who are 11 and 14, and I want to see them grow up. However, with the demands that racing calls for, it’s hard to take them camping, fishing, flying and other fun stuff like that. It’s a total commitment, and I don’t feel like I could give racing that kind of commitment at this point. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. I mean, there were nights where I wouldn’t go to bed until two in the morning, and then I would wake up to do it all over again. Now, I’m home for the night by 6:30, and I can go out and jump on the trampoline with the kids, or do whatever else we want to do.
DS: Do your kids show any interest in racing?
ST: Yeah. My oldest daughter, Hannah, shows a lot of interest, and I’m thinking about getting her a 1600 car. I’ll let her get warmed up at my testing facility and see if she’s able to race it. If I think she’s able to, I’ll take her to a few races, but I don’t think I would let her campaign in a point series. Again, I don’t have the time for that. I know it would be spending time with my kids, but my business has changed. I’m very fortunate for all of the work I have, and I’m trying to concentrate on that.
DS: What do you think about the current crop of drivers coming up?
ST: It’s an evolution. There’s always something new. It’s funny because I was recently talking with Walker Evans and Chuck Johnson about this, and we feel like we’ve lived during the best years of off-road racing. There wasn’t a lot of drama, there were good rules, and there was good competition. To me, it feels like it’s getting too political, and there seems to be a little favoritism here and there because of sponsors. So, we keep saying that we drove during the best years of racing. And you know what, the folks in about 20 years are probably going to say the same thing about the next generation of drivers coming in. That’s just the way I feel about it.
DS: What about the sport as a whole? Where do you see it going?
ST: Well, I hear that Lucas Oil is now talking with Crandon, and it’s never good when you have a split, but it always comes back bigger and better. It’s nature’s way of weeding out the weak. With the economy the way it is, the off-road community was still able to maintain itself. I do believe that off-road is here forever. As long as everyone plays by the rules and doesn’t tear the environment up, I think we’ll still be able to grow the sport.
DS: Recap the 40 years of racing at The Big House. What has that been like?
ST: Racing here at Crandon is unlike any other racing organization, and I’ll call this an organization because the Crandon folks run it. It is like none other. They treat everyone with the utmost respect. Racing here at The Big House is like racing at the Daytona 500. We’ve always talked about how you’ll never repeat Riverside, but I think this is as close as you’ll get to that.
DS: Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share with the Dirt Sports Nation?
ST: You know, I’ve always said, “You can do anything you want to do. You just have to want to do it bad enough.” That’s been my legacy, and that has been my words of wisdom to everyone I’ve crossed paths with. I’ve spoken at schools and churches, and I’ve had people come up to me years later and thank me for those words.