Racing a main event at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Ca
So 1979 started with full term racing every Friday night at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Saturday nights at West Capital Speedway in Sacramento and every anywhere else they could find a racetrack weather it be Placerville, Grass Valley, San Jose or Fremont Speedway. Anytime they weren’t racing they were out tracking one down.
Racing just about full time now they decided to build a sprint car with Kenny Woodruff and John Boy from JB Enterprises. John Boy was instrumental in finding the resources and sponsors to build the new Trostle sprint car. This is when Doug Hayes came into the scene from Hayes Racing Engines. who was known as the Einstein of racing engines. “We used to call them Arms back then” referring to the engines Doug would build. Soon the crew would have a few spare high horsepower engines to go with the sprint car. This car was only raced about 10 times but set a new track record at Cedro Wooley in Vancouver at the Dirt Cup and raced against the outlaws at West Capital in Sacramento, Santa Maria and out in Pheonix. Rich and the crew ended up winning the Championship that year in both Chico and Sacramento with the super modified car. Between these two tracks Rich ended up winning 13 features in a row and 21 features in total.
Here’s a quick racing story that shows how competitive things got on the track and how good sportsmanship prevailed in the sport.
During a race at the Silver Dollar Speedway under a green flag a racer named Tommy Herseth ran into Rich’s left rear tire and popped it. This was back in the day when the Chico track didn’t have guard rails so you could dive right off the track and into the pits so Rich headed to the pits for a quick tire change. Meanwhile the flagman was holding the race up until Rich could get back out there. Just as soon as the tire was on and the jack was being let down here came Tommy Herseth over the edge of the track, engine wide open doing full speed and crashed into the front of Rich’s car taking out the front axle, radiator and everything else in the front effectively totaling the car. Tempers flared and a fight was eminent but heeding the advise of everyone around him including George Pagent, Rich kept his cool. If he hadn’t, things could have been different and he may have lost his points and we wouldn’t be talking about the champion we are today. This happened on Friday night and Rich was set to run in the championship race the following night at West Capital. There was a lot of work that would need to be done to make it happen so the car was loaded up on the trailer and taken back to his shop in Roseville. The car had to be cut off at the firewall because the frame was so bent and a whole new section was welded on including front arms, torsion bars and everything else that makes up the front end of a race car. John boy, Phil Hicks and about 4 other guys were there that night. All Key mastercrafters with one goal, to get that car ready for the championships in just a few hours. By 9 am the front was welded on and by early afternoon the car was finished and loaded back onto the trailer and ready to race! The car however wasn’t perfect like it was and Rich ended up taking 3rd place that night. He was very happy with that. It took another week of ironing out the kinks to get the car back to running at optimal performance. Rich and Tommy were rivals after that which only added to the excitement of watching these great racers go at it on the track.
After having a great year with lots of wins, lots of laughs and a lot of work Rich was at Fremont Speedway running his sprint car with the outlaws when his good friend Mike Murphy wrecked his car beyond repair. It was about this time that Sheila mentioned to Rich that it might be time to get back to the business of trucking and give up the racing. She said, you’ve won all the championships now lets make some money so we can pay some bills! Rich was having a great time but knew his wife was right so he offered his championship winning car to Mike Murphy. He said “if you show up on my doorstep tomorrow morning with $30,000 cash I’ll sell you the car with the extra chassis and everything else except my spare engines. He was sure Mike wouldn’t take him up on such a big price tag. But Mike knew this car was built by the best in the business and he showed up that next morning with a shoe box full of cash. As Rich puts it “That was the end of my racing career”. Shortly after that Doug Hayes helped Rich sell the sprint car and the other modified car. The money went to buy a new Kenworth truck and a lowboy. Now Rich was making money and paying bills.
Although it was a 4 year span of time that Rich Taylor existed in racing it was really all about that great year of 1979 when he raced over 70 races, won a total of 21 main events and numerous other races. Rich has a trophy wall that would rival any other racer with a lifetime of accomplishments. Who know’s how many more championships this great racer would have won. What he did, most would say, is what every racer would want to do and that’s to go out while he was on top. Rich left the racing world a champion and never looked back. He took that competitive edge and applied it to his trucking business, Taylor Heavy Hauling and made it one of the most successful trucking businesses in the country with over 100 trucks and trailers. Rich Taylor went on to win the rest of the trophies life had to offer and is a champion business owner, husband and family man.