By day, Jeff Taylor owns and operates the Wild Animal Park in Chittenango and spends his time tending and feeding lions, tigers and rhinoceroses.
But on Friday night, he buckles into his 750-horsepower DIRT big-block, modified, and races the 8.8-kilometer circuit at Brewerton Speedway.
For 41-year-old Taylor, it’s a labor of love. “I’ve always loved animals and I’ve always wanted a zoo since I was a kid,” Taylor said. “I’ve always enjoyed racing too, so now I have the best of both worlds.”
In 2009, this lifelong resident of Chittenango built the 14-acre Wild Animal Park in an area north of the city. During the 2020 Covid period, Taylor built a drive-thru safari so customers could see all the animals without leaving their cars.
“During the peak summer season, we have nearly 60 employees working a day, including an on-site vet,” Taylor continues. “Feeding the 600 animals is not an easy task either. We use nearly 4,000 pounds of meat every month and over 20,000 bales of hay a year. Fortunately, I have bought several farms in the area and can grow all my own hay.”
On the racing front, Taylor has competed for the past six years, four in the athlete-modified class. Last year he switched to the DIRT big-block class, with Bicknell cars and Enders-built engines.
“It’s frustrating, though,” Taylor said. “Brewerton has a tough field of mods every Friday, with some of the best drivers in the area. I have a good crew chief in Gordie Button, but it was a learning experience for the driver.”
BREWERTON/FULTON: With only four points races to go on the Brewerton/Fulton DIRT modified track, the hunt for these track titles is a tight one on the way to the Labor Day weekend final.
Larry Wight’s win over Brewerton last Friday gives the Gypsum Express driver a 12-point lead over Chris Hile as the pair battle for Brewerton’s big-block title.
At Fulton, Dave Marcuccilli has a narrow lead of one point over Tim Sears Jr and thirteen over Ronnie Davis III in their pursuit of the 2022 Fulton 358 title change.
ESS SPRINTS: The Empire Super Sprint club has a few programs of 25 laps and $2,000 to win at Utica-Rome Friday night and Fonda Speedway on Saturday night. Jordan Poirier, Dave Franek and Jason Barney are the top three in the ESS points standings going into the weekend.
Matt Sheppard has won eight feature films at Utica-Rome this year and is on track for their modified track title for 2022.
SPENCER: The Spencer Speedway in Williamson has a four division program this Friday night, crowned with Race of Champions Sportsman and 602 Sportsman main events. Race time is 7pm
RETRO NIGHT: It’s Retro Night at Oswego Speedway this Saturday and the supermods will run a 45-lap race. Small-block supers and vintage cars will also run. The 350 supers have a night off.
SPECIAL IN THE AIR: The Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh has a big-block/358 custom special set of 40 rounds/$4,000 to be won for Saturday night at 7pm
CRSA SPRINTS: The CRSA Sprint Tour is on the Saturday evening program on the Land of Legends Speedway in Canandaigua. DIRT big-block mods will compete for the $2,000 first prize in their 30-lap race.
LARSON BUSY: After last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup event in Indianapolis, Kyle Larson will drive ten races over the next eleven days with six different race cars.
On Monday night, this versatile rider from Elk Grove, California jumped a sidewalk dwarf for the first time in 11 years and won a USAC dwarf event at Indianapolis Raceway Park.