Nine-time Oxford Plains Speedway track champion Jeff Taylor hasn’t competed in a single race during the 2017 racing season, but that isn’t stopping him from chasing the one thing missing from his resume.
The 50-year-old racer from Farmington, ME will be strapping into his signature green No. 88 Super Late Model on Saturday, August 27 with hopes of scoring his first career win in the prestigious Oxford 250.
“It will be our first race, which is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve done in my life, but you know,” Taylor said with a laugh. “You hate to go to that cold turkey, but work comes first and we’ve been very busy.
“We’ve been out and tested. It seems okay, put it that way. You’re there by yourself so nobody really knows. I’m not twenty anymore either.”
After a three-year absence behind the wheel, Taylor returned to part-time competition in April 2015 and scored his first career Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North victory during the season finale in October. He once again put together a part-time campaign in 2016 but went winless in his limited starts.
Now, after focusing on his business Distance Racing Products throughout the early part of the 2017 season, he’s ready to make a return behind the wheel.
“It’s just the one thing for me that I just haven’t been able to do during my career,” Taylor said. “It’d be nice to maybe get one because we’ve had cars through the years that easily we could have won; it just didn’t work out. I’m just trying to relive the dream I guess.”
Taylor has made 17 career starts in the Oxford 250 with 10 top-10 finishes and a pair of runner-up efforts. It’s a race that has been a thorn in his side with flat tires and mechanical failures derailing potential winning efforts.
Although Taylor certainly wants to breakthrough into victory lane, he admitted that he wouldn’t be too disappointed given the circumstances.
“In my world, it’s not as disappointing for the simple fact that we don’t race like a Travis (Benjamin). They race every week and they’re more on their game,” he began. “For us, I don’t want to be second, but if we did finish second for how we’re going about this and not really being race sharp, it would be an okay day.
“The last time we finished second was with an ACT-type car and that was only the second time we had raced all year. You can’t be disappointed that way. I’m sure other people might be, but I’m a realist. I know the guys that have been racing every week are probably going to be better and should be better.”
Part of the problem for Taylor and his ability to get to the race track has been his busy scheduling working on his customer’s race cars. With only two full-time employees at the Distance Racing Products shop, finding the time to actually work on his own race car has been difficult.
“For us, it’s been very difficult because we’ve had a heck of a summer and we’re such a small company,” Taylor stated. “There are two of us that work here and my wife comes in and does the books and helps out when she can. Trying to make time for yourself is awfully hard, so we’ve done the best we can to get a car the best prepared that we can get it and still take care of everybody else. I tell people that they don’t make an eighth day; there’s only seven.”
Given his lack of on-track time this season, Taylor believes it will take a nearly perfect race day in order to get to victory lane. But like any racer, he’s certainly not ruling that possibility out.
“For us, race day has to go almost as storybook as you can get it,” he admitted. “If all the ducks fall in line and all those kind of things, it’s possible.”
If the ducks fall in line and Taylor is able to capture the win that has eluded him, he’s not exactly sure how he’d react; however, he does know that the doors likely wouldn’t open at Distance Racing Products on Monday.
“Geez, I don’t even know. Everybody talks and spitballs about what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. The one thing that is probably going to happen here is that we’re probably going to be closed Monday. I don’t even know because we’ve tried throughout the years a lot of times, and we’ve had cars that easily could have got that done. But something always happened.”
Race fans unable to make it to Oxford, ME on Sunday, August 27 will be able to watch Taylor and the rest of the Super Late Model stars via a live pay-per-view broadcast. Video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com