At 9:36 p.m. on Wednesday night, standing on top of the Millbridge Speedway tower, Juliana Reimer was clutching her iPad for dear life.
Her camera frame was focused solely on the No. 25k Keith Kunz Motorsports midget driven by her daughter, Taylor Reimer. As a caution flag waved with four laps to go, Juliana held her breath.
“We need this race to end,” she exclaimed. “We want a podium.”
Taylor was holding down third at the time and was closing on second-place Chase McDermand. Meanwhile, Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series points leader Cannon McIntosh had set sail ahead of the field.
With nerves heightened, Juliana lifted her iPad to record the restart.
She anxiously watched the penultimate lap of the 35-lap feature, as Taylor and McDermand made contact in turn three. The incident allowed Reimer to grab second, while McDermand was relegated to the final step on the podium.
As Taylor passed the checkered flag in his No. 25k entry, Juliana jumped up and down with her iPad in hand, visibly elated with her daughter’s runner-up effort.
“It’s a complete rollercoaster,” Juliana said, referring to what the racing experience is like from her perspective. “I scream and yell and cheer for her, and I know I embarrass her sometimes. I’m probably her No. 1 cheerleader.”
It’s been 18 years since Taylor began her racing career in her hometown of Tulsa, Okla., wheeling Jr. Sprints at Port City Raceway. In all those years, Juliana has never missed a race.
“Haven’t missed one ever. Ever,” Juliana said adamantly.
The undying support has been an imperative piece to the puzzle for Taylor, as she’s navigated the ranks of dirt-track racing and earned her place as a full-time midget driver for KKM. This year, in the 23-year-old’s second full season with the powerhouse team, she’s signed on to chase the Xtreme Outlaw title and the USAC National Midget Championship.
But prior to the Double Down Showdown at Millbridge — the sixth and seventh races of the Xtreme Outlaw season — things hadn’t gone according to plan for the one-time series winner.
On Tuesday afternoon, prior to the first Millbridge feature, Taylor seemed dejected.
She admitted the team had been struggling through the early months of her campaign.
“I’m just trying to build my confidence back up,” Taylor said. “I honestly don’t even know where I’m at in points in either series (Xtreme Outlaw and USAC), I haven’t been paying attention to it. I’ve just been trying to do my best.”
But just over 24 hours later, after finishing on the podium during night two of the midget showdown, the BuzzBalls-sponsored driver looked rejuvenated.
“We got second. Not what we wanted, we wanted to win, but with how everything’s been going, I’ll take it. We need this to help build our confidence and it definitely has,” Taylor said. “But I want to win for my team, my sponsors and my parents.”
Taylor is seventh in the Xtreme Outlaw standings, 241 points behind McIntosh.