By: Ashley McCubbin
After spending 14 years behind the wheel, Jason Hathaway will be stepping into a team management position, spearheading Ed Hakonson Racing’s driver development. As a result, Brett Taylor will be jumping behind the wheel of their No. 3 entry for the upcoming campaign.
Coming off five top-10’s in six races last season, including a pair of thirds, the Alberta native recently spoke with NEWS FROM THE PITS about his thoughts entering 2021.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts entering the year?
BRETT TAYLOR: I think NASCAR’s intention seems to be to still squeeze all the races as per the original schedule. It will be a busy summer for me, but I’m excited for the challenge and hopeful that we maintain as much of the schedule as we can.
ASHLEY: You had the win at Jukasa (Motor Speedway) in 2019. How much does that help your confidence?
BRETT: Immensely. You always believe in yourself, or you try to believe in yourself as a driver and strive to be better all the time, and it’s nice when you’re rewarded with the fruits of that effort. After awhile of not getting any solid performances, it’s only human nature to start doubting yourself every once in awhile. With the win and the strength that we had in subsequent races with the backing of the EHR team, that also gives a ton of confidence to me.
ASHLEY: I was just going to say that it seems since you got with EHR, you’ve hit your stride. What’s made the difference being with EHR compared to other opportunities?
BRETT: There’s a few things moving in parallel. I’d never raced an oval race until I came into Pinty’s. I was a road racer out in western Canada and there’s some confidence and some skill that I needed to build on in the last five years, so that progression and that skill has been nurtured throughout each lap in these races. Racing against top tier guys in Canada makes you step up even faster, and so that’s one aspect to the progression of results is that I’ve been progressing as a driver.
Than there’s obviously the power house of EHR. Everybody affiliated with that organization is diehard racers, from Ed (Hakonson) to Jamie (Hakonson) to Jason (Hathaway) to all the crew; they bring a huge level of coaching and support to a driver like me that’s trying to build his name. So there’s that, along with my skill getting better with the more laps that I run. Then there’s Jason as a mentor and being able to able to bounce questions off somebody with his skill set is also a huge boost.
ASHLEY: So seeing what you’ve done, where do the goals and outlook go from here? Like, what are we looking at to accomplish moving forward?
BRETT: Well, I think everybody that comes to race in our series or every full-time driver ahs some their eye on some kind of level of championship. In my personal life and business life and in my racing life, I always set very high goals but still attainable and I think for us, EHR coming off the 2020 championship (with Hathaway), we’re striving for another championship, but understand that there’s other milestones that we need to make first.
I think we’re going to take it race by race and get as many points and do the best that we can. I think we’re going to be the car to beat on every oval track, and I think one of my personal goals is to podium every oval race.
ASHLEY: You mention being the car to beat on the ovals, but on the flip side, what do you feel that you and EHR need to do better?
BRETT: Well, EHR’s road course program has been getting better over the years and they built a brand new road course car, so I feel that we have the tools to do it. I think Jason has always underestimated himself as a road course racer, but still always managed to pull off top-five’s and a victory at CTMP (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park).
So I don’t want to pretend that I’m at the same level as some of the road course aces in the series, but with good equipment and a calm demeanor and keeping it clean and focusing on racing every lap at the road courses, I think we will still be a contender there.
ASHLEY: When we do get going, what track are you most excited for?
BRETT: Jukasa. I love that track I would say, and I think CTMP is a very close second because I don’t feel like I’ve had a really good shot at that track, something has always gone wrong mechanically or whatnot there. I’m looking forward to racing at CTMP again.
ASHLEY: What are your thoughts on the series competition?
BRETT: Well, I think we’re a very underestimated series compared to other NASCAR sanctioned series. I think the level of drivers we have are top-tier. But saying that, I do wish there was more and I think NASCAR is doing a really good job of diversifying, and the teams are doing a good job of making things easier for new drivers to come into our series. I think the talent level in our series is top in North America, but I do wish there was more.
ASHLEY: You took a different journey then some to get to here. what’s the biggest thing you learned along the way that you can pass along in the form of advice to someone else?
BRETT: Make an alliance and partner with a team that has the ability to mentor you, because every racer thinks they know everything and there’s always something to learn, there’s always a way to get better. So it’s a combination of making sure you’re with the right group to support you, mentor you, as well as taking every opportunity to get behind the wheel of something and get as many laps as you can, no matter what it is.