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Racing family strives
to reach new heights

 

By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

  Raising a child to be one of the top competitors on a national racing circuit is rare. Raising two children with that type of talent of even more uncommon. But that’s exactly what one family in Stockbridge has done over the years.

  Taylor Jorgensen, a 17-year-old driver, began racing when she turned 9. Growing up in a family with a history in motorsports led her to fall in love with being on the track.

(l to r) Amy, Jensen, Taylor and Jason Jorgensen step outside their garage in Stockbridge to display Taylor’s Legend car. She began driving the car this season after moving up to the Semi-Pro division.                                           Photo by Alex Welch

  “My dad, he raced go karts when he was a kid. And when I was born, he was racing legend cars,” said Taylor. “So I kind of just grew up around it. It took a little while before I got in it.”

  If she had it her way, though, Taylor would have been racing as soon as possible. Her mother, Amy, said she begged for years to get behind the wheel. Her father, Jason, said Taylor started pressuring him to let her race when she was 9. When their neighbor brought home a new car for his son one day, they couldn’t deny Taylor anymore.

   “His dad goes right out and buys him a new Bandolero car. So now it’s either get her a Bandolero car, or be the worst father on Earth,” said Jason.

  The family let Taylor test drive a Bandolero car, and from that point on, she’s been involved in the sport ever since. This year, Taylor made the transition to driving a Legend car, and she is now in the Semi-Pro national division. Her move up entails driving a bigger car, more speed and older competition. Her natural ability has led to a quick learning curve.

“It’s gone pretty good I would say. We went into thinking I’ll be in the back, just learn and get used to the car,” said Taylor. “My first race they said to stay in the back. I’m behind people thinking, ‘Y’all are going way too slow.’”

Taylor finished second in her first Thursday Thunder race at Atlanta Motor Speedway this season.  She’s not only impressing her family with her instant success in a new car; she’s capturing the attention of other drivers as well.

  “We thought this year was going to be a transition. She’s not just picked it up real quick, she’s outrunning a lot of kids that have been making this transition over the years,” said Jason. “Two guys came up to her that are very fierce competitors and complimented her and said it’s a pleasure to race with you. She’s been taught not to be a dirty driver. Everything is finesse.”

  Taylor said driving a new car was a bit unusual at first, but she seems to be getting the hang of it as she goes through more races and gains experience in her Legend car.

  “At first it was pretty weird. You don’t know where your tires are and it’s awkward. I felt like I was driving a big shoebox,” said Taylor. “These feel like racecars. It was weird, but I’m getting used to it and it’s starting to feel a little bit better.”

  But Taylor isn’t the only star in the making in the Jorgensen household. Her 14-year-old brother, Jensen, is an up-and-comer in the sport, and last year he raced against her in Bandoleros. Taylor managed to win nine of the 10 Thursday Thunder races last season, nearly pulling off a sweep. Her one loss, of course, came at the hands of her sibling.

  “We would go to some tracks that he would get down better than her, and he would be right there trying to beat her, and we were looking with her at the national title,” said Jason. “So it was hard, because he was doing everything he could to win races, but at the same time it was hurting her chances of winning the title. It was tough.”

  The family said last year’s focus was for Taylor to win the title, while Jensen gained experience and become accustomed to the division. That wasn’t the case, though. Taylor was the champion of Thursday Thunder, while Jensen finished runner-up. On the national scale, Taylor tied for first place, but a points ruling left her in second. Jensen won a crucial race at the end of the season to capture third. Racing against your sibling might cause a rivalry in some families, but the Jorgensens didn’t see any kind of quarrel between their two children.

  “They’re so supportive of each other. They’re not jealous or mean,” said Amy. “He works on her car. All last year, all his free time was spent working on his sister’s car.”

  Becoming a racing family requires complete dedication to the sport, according to Amy. She said they are constantly traveling to other states for races, and the kids have eliminated all extracurricular activities from the schedule. They even needed to find a new school to accommodate their hectic schedule. Taylor and Jensen now attend New Creation Christian Academy in McDonough, where they have class at school part of the week and do the rest of their work online, allowing the freedom to travel and practice when necessary.

  Both Jorgensens have aspirations of racing at the top level. Becoming a NASCAR driver one day is something Taylor and Jensen have their sights set on.

  “Right now, I don’t think I want to do anything other than race. I hope that within the next two years someone will say ‘I want to put you in the late model and I want to pursue you,’” said Taylor. “I’m hoping to race in NASCAR.”

  If reaching NASCAR heights is the ultimate goal, the Jorgensens are among impressive names in the sport. Several renowned drivers started where they are currently racing today, making a name for themselves at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

  “Joey Lagano, Reed Sorenson, David Ragan, Max Gresham all of them were the same kids as ours. They all started right there and had to do what we’re doing,” said Amy. “You have to compete for national championships; you have to take your kids to these other tracks. You have to keep pushing.”

  The Jorgensens continue to perform well in 2013. Jensen now has 11 national wins and is tied at the top of the points rankings. Taylor is currently ranked ninth out of 230 racers in her national division.

  The cost to move up to Late Model cars, which is the next step for Taylor, isn’t cheap. Jason said the jump from “what we’re doing to running late models can be $125-$150,000 a year.” As both racers build on the already successful careers, the Jorgensens are hoping the more attention they receive, the more likely sponsors will want to get involved and support them. Taylor is racing her dad’s old Legend car. The Jorgensens do all the work on their cars right from their Stockbridge home. There’s no telling where they will be in a few years from now if a big-name sponsor gets on board. The sky appears to be the limit for Taylor and Jensen right now.

 

 

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