DIRT: Taylor Ferns Season in Review: A Return to Winged Sprint Car Racing

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — November 25, 2014For Taylor Ferns, the 2014 season was all about learning the intricacies of 410-winged sprint car racing and getting seat time, as she returned to the 900-horsepower machines for the first time in nearly four seasons. When it was all said and done, she had earned her first winged sprint car win, along with recording several other strong runs. She even made her debut with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series in 2014, as well as racing with the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions and the upstart Renegade Sprint Series.

“It was a work in progress this season,” said Ferns, who drives the No. 55F Eco-Mend Maxim. “Along with it being my first time back in a winged car years in a few years, it was my crew chief’s (Kevin Besecker) first year wrenching on a winged car. We had our fair share of trials and tribulations throughout the year, but learned a lot from the mistakes we made and from the good runs as well, which will help us going into next season.”

The 18-year-old opened the year by competing two consecutive weeks at Atomic Speedway in Ohio, a track she would race at a number of times throughout the 2014 campaign. In her first 410-winged sprint car race of the year, she charged from the 21st starting spot to finish 11th at the high-banked three-eighths-mile. Ferns would follow that up with a sixth-place effort the following week.

In early May, Ferns made her first trip to Attica Raceway Park in Ohio, and led laps in the main event, before a spin. The following night she raced at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan, and again led laps, before finishing third. Ferns wrapped up May be competing in a couple of USAC Traxxas Silver Crown Series races in Indiana.

Ferns kicked off June by scoring her first-career 410-winged sprint car victory, with that coming at Southern Ohio Speedway in a race sanctioned by the Ohio Valley Sprint Car Association (OVSCA). She opened the night by turning the fastest lap in time trials, which was good enough to establish a new track record.

“Winning got the monkey off our back that had been there for a while,” she shared. “It was a couple of years since I was in victory lane and we were working very hard to get a win this year. Being able to set a new track record that same night made winning extra special as well. It showed just how fast of a car we had and how strong we were.”

The native of Shelby Township, Michigan, who now calls the Indianapolis area home, made her first her appearance with the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions during Ohio Sprint Speedweek in June. The highlight of the trio of nights she competed in was timing in sixth-fastest of the 62 entries at Atomic Speedway and racing her way into the dash in that night.

Ferns returned to Atomic for the annual “Night the Stars Come Out” and promptly set fast time of the 32 drivers in attendance for the All Stars event. She continued to gain experience in the Ohio/West Virginia area throughout the summer, with a runner-up finish at I-77 Raceway Park in an OVSCA race topping the lot. She also raced with the All Stars a number of times July and August, as well as with the Fremont/Attica Sprint Title (F.A.S.T.) and in the inaugural Renegade Sprint Series event at Atomic.

The winningest female driver in USAC history made her World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series debut at the famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio, during the Four-Crown Nationals weekend in September. Ferns competed with the series again the following weekend at Bloomington Speedway in Indiana.

“When you raced against the Outlaws, you are racing against the best of the best, so you have to go in there with some confidence,” Ferns said. “With the winged car, having confidence and momentum is huge. One of our goals this year was to race with the Outlaws and we were able to do that and gain some great experience in the process. You have to be on your game racing against them and drive perfect laps every time you are on the track.”

Ferns wrapped up the season by taking part in the Open Wheel Championships at Atomic Speedway, sanctioned by the Renegade Sprint Series. She charged from the 13th starting spot to finish sixth in the Charlie McCann Memorial, which was contested by the 20-fastest drivers from time trials that did not transfer to the Open Wheel Championships main event.

When the final numbers were tallied, Ferns finished among the top-10 in nearly one-third of her winged-sprint car starts in 2014. She raced at 13 tracks in five states, including making her first trip to Pennsylvania to race with the All Stars at Mercer Raceway Park. She also raced a 360-sprint car for the first time at Waynesfield Raceway Park in Ohio, late in the season.

Ferns and her team will open the 2015 season in Florida in February, and are currently working on the remainder of their schedule.

“This will actually be one of the longest off-seasons, I’ve ever had, as we usually do some racing around the holidays,” said Ferns. “We’ll head to Florida in February, and I am anxious to get back in the car. As a driver, you always want more wins and better finishes, but all in all, we learned a lot this year, which will pay off next year and down the road.”

Taylor Ferns and Ferns Racing would like to thank their valued partners: Eco-Mend, Jimmy’s Towing Recovery & Transport, Indy Race Parts, Motor City Auto Transport Inc., National Auto Placement, Project Podium, Women’s Sports Foundation, Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation, FK Rod Ends, Lucas Oil, K&N Filters, Lansing Sanitary Supply (LSS), Simpson Race Products, ButlerBuilt, Allstar Performance, Stanton Racing Engines, Hoosier Tire Midwest, Race4Girls andRacing2Cure.