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FERNS: The Besecker Special

Motorsports is very much a team sport, no question about it. Yet, it is the driver who receives the brunt of the glory in numerous ways.

With that, I feel there is one particular item that needs some adjusting.

By way of example, from an open-wheel perspective, post-race interviews typically involve a conversation between the trackside reporter and the driver.

Why? Outside of explanations that may seem obvious, this could be for a variety of reasons. Some may say the driver is viewed as the “figurehead” of the team as, in most cases, the driver is the one who brings in the sponsorship dollars. Then, there’s the arguments that “the driver is the one to physically drive the car to the finish line;” “the driver is the one who sacrifices the most;” and the list goes on and on.

Nw 410 Sprint Win At Berlin 2021
Taylor Ferns with crew chief Kevin Besecker after winning an Auto Value Super Sprints feature at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway in 2021. (Ferns Family photo)

But especially when in victory lane, why don’t we interview the crew chief, team owner, and/or crew members, in addition to the driver? They contribute just as much, if not more, to the overall success of the team. After all, we win and lose as a team.

At the age of 12, I was introduced to an individual who would have the single greatest influence on my career, mindset, growth and development as a person and a race car driver.

Born into a racing family that had owned and operated teams since the 1950s, Kevin Besecker has been a driver, driver coach, crew chief, chief mechanic and technical adviser for open-wheel dirt and asphalt race teams and drivers.

As a driver himself, Kevin won a Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway sprint car championship, but his record as a crew chief is even more impressive.

Cars he has prepared and drivers he has worked with have won loads of races, including the Turkey Night Grand Prix, a Chili Bowl preliminary night feature and multiple USAC championships, among other notable achievements.

Kevin’s knack and the specific way he goes about setting up a race car has brought me to name any car that leaves our shop a “Besecker Special.”

The way Kevin listens to what the driver is trying to convey, discusses on-track strengths and weaknesses and properly inputs and articulates what changes may need to be made to the race car is what makes any operation in which he is involved next level.

In addition, his calm demeanor adds a sense of ease in the most chaotic of moments. If and when Kevin gets fired up, that is a good gauge to determine the severity of the situation.

All jokes aside, at times I reflect on what makes our working relationship so special. Familiarity, complimentary personalities, our communication level and a history of success together come to mind. But most importantly, he has always been the one to believe in me as much as I have faith in him and he treats everything I have to say like it means something — car-related or not.

The trust level between a driver and crew chief has to go both ways otherwise you can take winning, or any level or form of success, off the scorecard. If you want to be the best, you have to surround yourself with the best including, but not limited to people, equipment, sponsorships, affiliations, etc.

It all begins with who is calling the shots and, in my eyes, Kevin Besecker is simply one of the best.

Fifteen years ago, not only did I gain, arguably, one of the best crew chiefs to ever turn the wrenches on a race car, but a friend, mentor, helmet holder, chaperone and a person I always hope to make proud in whatever I pursue.

To me, Kevin’s kids, Nic and Drake, are like my younger siblings. Lauren, Kevin’s wife, is like a second mom; Grandpa B (Rick Besecker), Kevin’s dad, is like another grandparent; and Angie Hannagan (Besecker), Kevin’s sister, is like an aunt.

As Kevin is in the process of assembling “Besecker Specials” for me, Caleb and Dakoda Armstrong, and Jett and Duke Neal, I look forward to all that is to come for Kevin and our team. We all have been putting so much time, effort and money into this season and beyond, but his constant sacrifices and dedication to making our cars the best they can be is something I always want to highlight and recognize.

This guy deserves some victory lane interviews.


This story appeared in the Feb. 15, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

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