This weekend while attending the 10th annual 25 Hours Of Thunderhill, a good friend introduced me to 18-year-old Tim Taylor. As talked about racing, I saw his eyes light up as his passion became apparent. When asked what his dreams were, he said, “I would give anything to be as good a racecar driver as him,” pointing to my good friend, NASA Competition Licensing Director Donny Edwards.
As a boy, I had that same dream, as so many others before me. As I walked back through the paddock, I realized everyone surely had the same dream. The difference is the path we each took to get to where we are today. In my case, there was a lot of luck involved, and as things turned out many times, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. In Tim’s case, some friends invited him to a NASA event and before he knew it, he found himself being taken for the ride of his life — and the seed was planted.
I was overwhelmed how many times that weekend I was complimented on what a fine young man my son has become. It has always been rewarding to see how well respected he is when carrying out his duties as race director. I would like to point out that in Will’s case, the path that got him to where he is today wasn’t what I chose for him as his father. In fact, had I had anything to do with it, he would have accepted one of six scholarships he was offered, one of which was a five-year scholarship to West Point.
One day, Will came into my den to speak with me about what he had decided he wanted to do with his life. He told me he had decided not to accept any football or track scholarships.
When I asked of his plans, he simply said, “I am going to be involved with racing.” Seeing the shock on my face, he was quick to explain, “Dad, you always taught me that whenever I believe in a dream, I should never be afraid to stand up and fight for that dream, regardless of any negative response others try to hand me.”
The rest is history. At 13, Will became NASA’s youngest licensed driver. Still in his teens, his very first nonrookie race was the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in which he finished second in class just seconds ahead of third place, and crossed the finish line as his front wheel fell off! He won his first National championships while carrying a full load at college and working full time at Thunderhill Raceway. It didn’t take long for Executive Director, Jerry Kunzman to take him under his tutelage, and today Will lives his dream.
The seed that was planted in Tim and Will is the same seed that has grown in all of us who have the passion to race — and it can develop simply by getting involved with NASA.