Auto Racing

Danica Patrick inspired Taylor Lurkens to try racing

Taylor Lurkens, a 2019 Lisbon graduate, will use her previous enduro race experience, paired with the patience she's gai
Taylor Lurkens, a 2019 Lisbon graduate, will use her previous enduro race experience, paired with the patience she’s gained as a child care provider, to try to take the checkered flag today at Hawkeye Downs. Lurkens was the only female to preregister for the race. (Submitted photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Representation matters.

“I think racing started becoming a passion of mine when I met Danica (Patrick) in person with my mom,” said 19-year-old Taylor Lurkens, the only female driver to preregister for today’s enduro race at Hawkeye Downs. “We waited for two hours in the rain to get an autograph from her.”

Lurken was 5 and has been a fan ever since.

Her passion for driving increased after attending weekly races at Hawkeye Downs with her babysitter, who ran the 50/50 raffle.

“I think more females should be drawn to the sport,” Lurkens said. “It’s cool to see what the guys can do, but some of the girls can do it better, like Leah Wroten and Alicia Steepleton at Independence.”

Those two drivers made history this season by each claiming track titles at Independence Motor Speedway.

For Lurkens, she is just excited to get her 1994 Toyota Tercel on the track after gaining experience in her previous races.

“For the snow enduro, I was nervous because you never race when it’s wet or snowy and there were a lot of cars,” the 2019 Lisbon graduate said. “When I saw the road course I was like, ‘Holy crap,’ it’s going to be awesome with all of the twists and turns. It’s not a circle race, so there are going to be obstacles and you are going to need brakes for sure.”

One thing the teenage driver has going for her is her patience, gained working as a child care provider.

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“One lap takes a long time because you have three tracks to drive through,” Lurkens said of her strategy. “People are going to go to that first corner between the half mile and the quarter mile and they are going to have to slam on their brakes right away and probably wreck each other. I start 24th of the preregistered cars and I’m hoping that is far enough back that everyone else will have wrecked each other on that first lap. Otherwise, we’ll just see how it is and improve my laps each time.”

Regardless of where she finishes, Lurkens just loves the chance to race with both her friends and her favorite drivers.

“It’s a great opportunity to get into racing,” Lurkens said. “Fifty dollars can get you a decent car that you can take the windows out and mirrors off and you can race against all of the best drivers from asphalt and dirt in the same class.”

Lurkens also doubles as the girlfriend to Hawkeye Downs regular Braxton Franks, although she has taken control of her own racing career.

“I told him to stay away from my car because he’s dealt with racing for the last six years,” Lurkens said. “I want to do my racing career with the enduros. Let me pick my car, design it and break the windows out and you just stay away.”

Her car design for the road course may win her an award on its own, with traffic cones secured to the top to create a mohawk look and 10n as the number blended into the word “caution,” which is written across the side.

“I showed my grandma photos of my first enduro and she about had a heart attack,” Lurkens said. “Everyone is pretty supportive and thinks it’s bad-ass that a female from our family is racing cars.”

The race begins at 11 a.m. with $5 admission and children 8 and under free.

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