Stock car racing has always been a team sport. Each person in the organization plays a key role in the success of the team. One minor mistake can ruin a driver’s day and the smallest thing can often make the biggest impact.
Just ask Doug Taylor.
After a brief career in the Air Force that taught him electronics, Taylor was looking for a new direction when he heard that 2-way radios were being used in Indy and stock cars. He began to focus on developing a better system for in-car communications.
At first only a few drivers were interested but through word of mouth advertising, more and more seemed to take notice. In 1974 things began to come together when Junior Johnson became his first customer.
You might recognize a few of the legendary names he has worked with in his 25-year long career. They include A.J. Foyt, Benny Parsons, Darrell Waltrip, the Woods Brothers, Paul Newman and many more.
Taylor has lived a diverse life including a short stint as a driver. He’s also had his share of ups and downs. His biggest contribution to the sport was the development of “The Earmold” which is still used in racing today. Unfortunately, he was never able to procure a worthwhile patent on it.
Before Taylor’s innovation the in-car radios only worked during cautions. His new design ushered in a new era where crew chiefs were able to talk to their drivers under green flag conditions.
Talking with Taylor is like talking to a walking encyclopedia of racing. He also has some great stories to tell. This is just one of many.
He began telling me about the Mark Martin he met in the 1970’s as a driver in the American Speed Association where Martin went on to capture four championships.
Taylor likens the young Martin’s driving style to that of Kyle Busch. This was well before Martin evolved into one of the most respected and cleanest drivers in NASCAR today.
But there is one race at Winchester Speedway in Indiana that is one of Taylor’s most vivid memories of Mark Martin.
Martin was competing against driver Mike Eddy for the win.
Eddy, who went on to become a seven-time National ASA champion, was well known for his pedal to the medal driving style. He was feared on the track and was known to many as the “Polar Bear.”
It was on lap 391 of the 1980 Winchester 400 when the trouble began. Martin and Eddy were both going for the win with Eddy in first place and Martin right behind him in second.
Suddenly Martin got under Eddy and they raced side by side until Martin’s car broke loose. His car slid up the track into the side of Eddy who bounced off the wall and back into Martin. The wreck took them both out of the race.
After the race, Taylor walked by Eddy who was talking to several drivers about the race. He saw Taylor, pointed at him, and said, “There’s the guy that saved Martin’s life.”
Everyone turned to look at Taylor who was standing there with his mouth open and no idea of what was coming next.
Eddy continued with the story saying that when he got out of his car, there was only one thing on his mind. He was going to go find Martin and “kill” that kid.
But, as he was getting out of the car, he felt a tug on his helmet and realized that his radio was still attached to his helmet. He remembered how Taylor had always told the drivers that they needed to be careful with their radios and pull the connector apart with their hands, not by jerking on the cord.
Eddy paused for a few seconds to take the time to disconnect his radio properly. That brief moment took his mind off Martin just long enough for him to calm down.
“If it wasn’t for Doug,” Eddy said, there’s no telling what I would have done.”
Taylor chuckles as he tells the story and says he’s happy he could play a small part in helping Mark Martin live to become the icon he is today.
For more information about Doug Taylor, please visit his website at http://taylorscommunicationsracing.com/