By Gregg A. Sims
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — At the potentially tender age of 20, Zach Taylor has an interesting choice to make.
The Washington resident could choose a career in CNC machining. He presently works at Loughmiller Machine in Loogootee while being a student at Vincennes University.
At the same time, Zach is in the process of becoming a pretty good dirt track racer in the 600cc micro-sprint class of winged and non-winged class cars.
The first offers potential stability for a young man who can not only use a computer for the job, but is pretty good using just his hands in what is becoming a lost art.
The second comes with a driving career that started as a six-year-old in Indianapolis. There’s something addicting about entering high banked dirt curves that has proven to be appealing.
“CNC is something that I love and understand very well,” Taylor said. “I could see a good future in that. Career wise, I want to stay realistic in case I don’t continue racing, but if I would have the opportunity, I wouldn’t mind doing some more racing. What I would really like is World of Outlaw sprint or late models. That would bring the most joy because you are on dirt. I like the feeling of throwing the car into the corner. I wouldn’t mind racing on asphalt in trucks or cars, but right now I would really enjoy the World of Outlaw competition.” The micro-sprint cars use motors from a variety of motorcycle engines.
The cars are just a bit smaller than a midget, yet develop around 125 horsepower in a car that weighs 750 pounds. The cars race on methanol fuel, somewhat similar to what Indy cars use.
“They develop unbelievable horsepower,” Taylor said. “Depending on the track, I usually average 85 miles per hour into corners of one-eight mile tracks. We usually turn laps around nine seconds. On asphalt they can reach 140 on quarter-mile tracks. That’s pretty quick.” Taylor and his team receive help with his car from Jones Engineering and Boyd and Sons LLC in Washington, as well as Tim Engler from Princeton. Jones and Engler assist with engine work while Boyd helps by supplying lubrication products and sponsorship.
“Since we’ve had this engine work in the last year, our whole racing program has taken off,” Taylor said. “I can’t give them enough credit for what they have done.” Taylor has several area races coming in the near future. He is racing at Linton this weekend before preparing for an outing at Southern Illinois Raceway (SIR) in Marion, Ill. That leads to the Monster Energy High Banks Hustle, July 11, 12 and 13, featuring a handsome payday.
The field is expected to include 80 to 100 in Taylor’s class, and the top 24 get to race in the final.
That may sound like pretty tough odds, but Taylor enjoyed a year of success last season that provides confidence.
Taylor won a 24-car feature at Marion last August before winning the 44-car Dave Shelton NW Classic at I-24 Raceway in Charleston, Ill.
A season-ending win came at SIR in the Terry Sprague Classic in a 24-car final.
In between, Taylor was putting in a good performance at SIR in the Power I show, featuring 122 entries running for a first-place prize of $10,000 before mechanical failure ended his day.
Taylor soon competes at Charleston on July 16, and July 18-20 at Belleville, Ill., in a $10,000 to win feature. All the races are dirt, which is what Taylor prefers.
“I think we (Taylor and relatives that compose his racing team), have the car to compete there (Belleville),” Taylor said. “We haven’t run there yet, but it looks to be a really fast one-eight mile track. I think we have a chance to do well there.”