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FERNS: Never Give Up

INDIANAPOLIS – Never give up – a cliché that’s often hard to identify with or relate to until going through a difficult period – is the perfect descriptor of my racing season thus far.

From the beginning of the year, my team and I have dealt with a string of engine issues, failed electrical components, health problems, overcoming bad qualifying runs and the list goes on and on. You name it, we’ve probably experienced it. But at the end of the day, although it may be a difficult pill to swallow, it’s all a part of racing.

A lot, if not all, of the issues we have had this year would make some people quit. Not us. What keeps us coming back each race is the challenge and determination of overcoming the adversity thrown our way and competing for podiums and wins, which we know we can do.

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Taylor Ferns (55) battles Kaylee Bryson during USAC Silver Crown Series competition at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill. (Don Figler photo)

Granted, having a lot of the problems makes being a contender difficult. Your mental strength, passion and commitment are put to the ultimate test, especially when functioning as both a driver and team owner.

It would definitely be easier for me if I was just the driver, but taking into context a lot of what we have experienced this year takes a deeper toll as an owner in terms of evaluating problems and deciding who and what vendors we want to work with and who and what we can afford.

Because what are life’s two biggest constraints? Time and money.

Competing on the national level since I was a teenager, I was always aware how much mental health affects your on-track performance. But after taking a fair amount of time off from racing and only competing on a more regional level since returning, I was quickly reminded this year that I needed to compose myself using my mind – even with all the chaos going on operationally – for my driving to not be adversely affected.

It’s difficult to say the least. But if it were easy, everyone would do it.

Since the beginning of the season, I have tried to place myself in the mental space that when I am at the track, I am strictly the driver. That requires me to place more dependency on my crew chief, Kevin Besecker, when it comes to things we might encounter at the track. Then, when we leave the track after the race, we debrief on what went down and how to best resolve situations going forward.

I am very much a hands-on person and love to problem solve, which I don’t stop doing when at the track in terms of car mechanics, handling and driver techniques, but I have taken a more backseat approach to “owner duties” when at the race track in an effort to remain focused on driving. It has been a challenge, but, as of late, I feel I am “settling in” to balancing these roles.

In addition, with the positive changes we have made as a team from an operations standpoint, it has allowed me to be “all in” as a racer and not have to worry about things failing on the car.

With all that we have had to grapple throughout the early to mid-part of our season, I think we are getting to a place where the tides are turning in a positive direction (hopefully), and we can finish the season in a way that we can be proud of — in victory lane, of course.

A friend of mine continuously reminds me, “It’s not about the setback, but the recovery.” Here’s to finishing “The Comeback Tour” on a strong note.

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


This story appeared in the Sept 27, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

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