By: Lee Spencer, photo courtesy of the Reimer family.
Taylor Reimer just couldn’t stay away.
After winning the track junior sprint championship at Port City (Okla.) Raceway when she was 12—not to mention every other top contest in micro sprints at the eighth-mile track—Reimer took a seven-year sabbatical from racing to concentrate on her studies and cheerleading.
Now the 21-year-old Oklahoma University junior is back with Dave Mac Motorsports for the biggest midget event of all—the Chili Bowl Nationals.
“I always knew I would start racing again,” Reimer said. “Just with the timing—with school and cheer—I decided it was in my best interest to go to college and pursue a degree.
“I was never pushed into racing. My dad is the only person in my family who was into racing, and when I was six, he decided to put me into a go-kart. I made some laps and instantly fell in love with it. I decided that’s what I wanted to do. And we did it every single weekend before switching from asphalt to dirt and racing junior sprints.”
The Bixby, Okla., native shared her father Kurt’s passion for motorsports, and their dedication paid off. Reimer remains the winningest female driver at Port City.
“Me and my dad did what we loved,” Reimer said. “It was like a father-daughter deal. He was everything—my coach, my crew chief. He set up the car for me. But it got to the point where it was just too much.
“And it was heartbreaking when I decided to stop. I always knew I would do it again.”
What started as a hobby became time-intensive for the teenager. At 14, there was no burnout involved, just a shift in priorities to scholastic endeavors and cheerleading. And she wouldn’t trade the experience.
Reimer currently has a dual major—Health and Exercise Science, with a minor in Business—and a 4.0 GPA for her effort.
Along with her OU team, she finished second in the National Cheerleading Championships last year. While the Covid-19 pandemic has upended daily routines, it opened a door for Reimer to return to racing.
“I never thought I’d be racing so soon, again,” Reimer said. “I planned on finishing college and then racing, but with covid and all of the restrictions, I couldn’t travel for the away games. I had so much time, I started to think about racing again. Watching races is definitely something that always made me want to get back into it. It was hard watching and not being out there. I’ve always wondered where I could have been if I continued.”
A return to her Port City roots last summer rekindled Reimer’s relationship with Dave McIntosh, who offered the driver the opportunity to test a midget.
“My dad and Dave were always friends—and I raced with Cannon when I was younger,” Reimer said. “We were talking at Port City and mentioned we might be interested in racing again. He asked if we’d like to come back in a month or so and practice in a midget and we said, “Sure.”
“We practiced in the midget. He was impressed. I think I did pretty good for being away from it for so long, and we just went from there.”
Reimer was a little nervous at first, knowing the power difference between restricted class and a midget, but she equated the experience to riding a bicycle. Her skills quickly recovered—even though she had never driven a midget before. McIntosh agrees.
“Her first practice, the speed was there,” McIntosh said. “The car control, she did really, really well. There were several people there that said, ‘Oh my gosh.” They had never seen her race before as a kid—and I had. Cannon followed right behind her in junior sprints—she was going out as we were coming in. I got to see it every week. She was almost unbeatable.
“So I was excited about what I had seen in the past. I thought, man, if she could find that fire again and find that speed she had as a young girl, she could really do some damage. We started with practice and started to see glimpses of that and it really excited our team. ”
Reimer returned to midget competition last fall in the POWRi Series. She competed at both Port City and I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City with a lot of the same drivers she’ll race against this weekend. The experience only whetted her appetite for more racing.
“There are a lot of accomplishments that women have done in racing—firsts—and no girl has ever won a national USAC midget race,” Reimer said. “I’ve always wondered if I would had started midgets when I was younger and kept at it, I know I could have accomplished those things. It’s still possible. I think if I just stay with it and work towards it. I have a lot of catching up to do, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I can do it.
“When I was a little girl, my dream was to get to NASCAR. Right now, I would say, it would be so cool if I could get there. I just have to work up to it, switch over to asphalt eventually and see what doors open.”
A solid impression at Tulsa Expo Raceway would be a good place to start. Reimer is one of 76 Chili Bowl rookies to take to the fifth-mile dirt track this week. And she’s up against a tough field for her preliminary on Wednesday—including Rico Abreu, Brad Sweet, Sammy Swindell and another CBN newcomer, Chase Elliott.
But Reimer has raced in the building before during the Tulsa Shootout. She finished second in junior sprints and also competed in restricted mini-sprints.
“The last few years since I stopped racing, my dad and I would go to Chili Bowl, and it’s crazy how big of an event it has become,” Reimer said. “You’re out there racing the best of the best. Everyone comes from all over to race here. Guys like Kyle Larson and Rico Abreu, it’s just crazy how competitive that race is.
“With this being my first Chili Bowl, I’m really realistic with my goals. I don’t want to sell myself short, but I just want to get some good solid laps in and race against other people. I just want to have fun. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself. I just want to go in there with an open mind and do the best I can. Then I’ll be satisfied.”