DRAG RACING: Taylor Arneson: From spectator to drag racer
For Pillager High School senior Taylor Arneson, racing is more than a hobby; it’s a family affair.
Taylor’s dad, “Swede” Arneson, who has raced drag and dirt tracks, mom Kristy Arneson, and younger sister Tracy make up the Arneson Race Team, and they cherish the time they can spend on the track together.
“We pack ever other weekend and stay at the track,” said Kristy. “It’s a good family hobby. It keeps us all together.”
Taylor collected two street trophy class wins, rookie of the year honors and a season championship at Brainerd International Raceway, and finished third in the NHRA Division 5 ET finals at Topeka, Kan., on BIR’s high school team. She attained all of this during her first year of racing.
“It’s not hard to get into,” Taylor said. “We watched and saw what it was about and once you decide to do it, it’s not that hard. Everyone at BIR was really helpful.”
For years, the Arneson family, originally from Madison, Minn., visited BIR to watch friends compete. When they got the opportunity to relocate to the area, they snapped it up.
“We always said that someday we’re going to live up here and we’re going to race,” Kristy said.
After moving to Pillager, the Arnesons went to work on putting Taylor on the track.
“You can spend a lot of money, but you don’t have to,” Kristy said. “We asked a lot of questions. We had an idea of what we wanted to be a good starter car and had good potential.”
That’s not to say that it’s been smooth sailing, or racing, the entire time.
“My first run was really bad,” Taylor said. “I went up against a 12-second car and it seemed he was at the end of the track before I started. We’ve had our share of trouble, but we just work around it. The other people on the track are always willing to help.”
Arneson competes with her 1989 Camaro in the bracket racing series at BIR, which offers drivers a chance at victory based on their estimate of the elapsed time it takes to run the famous drag strip.
“It helps to have a consistent car, we don’t,” she said, “but there’s a lot of luck involved.”
For the Arnesons, racing is about more than just going fast. Everyone does their share of hard work to keep everyone on track and organized.
“We do a lot of fixing between races because we started on the low-budget end,” Taylor said. “Dad is the mechanic. I do tool chasing and parts changing and Tracy is crew chief at the track. If I don’t help with the car, I don’t get to race.”
When she’s not racing, Arneson stays busy with school, taking advantage of the college in schools program to complete her associates in arts degree through Lake Superior College in Duluth.
“It’s nice to have a break but I want to be back on the track,” Taylor said. “If I’m not racing, then I want to be at the track watching. I’ve enjoyed high school, though, and I wanted the senior-year experience.”