Taylor Branch is a long time competitor in the Bowman Gray Stadium Sportsman division. But before he made The Madhouse his stomping grounds he raced karts. He had always had a racing background, his father being a crew chief on a Busch Grand National car. So Taylor’s father decided to buy a go-kart when Taylor was ten years old. Taylor and his father were a very small operation most race days, but that didn’t stop them from finding success. They came up with their own tire soak and set ups and won many races and a few championships.
When Taylor turned sixteen his father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and wasn’t given very long to live. He promised his dad the very next race they raced he would win it, no doubt in his mind. Sadly Taylor’s father, his very best friend didn’t make it to the next race as cancer had overcome him. Though Taylor did keep his word, and went out that next race and won it for his father. This race was also Taylor’s last behind the wheel of a go-kart.
It was around this time Taylor had focused on his life as a teenager and married his high school sweetheart Melissa, right out of high school. Together they have three wonderful children two boys and a girl. But this wouldn’t slow down the inevitable fact that Taylor wanted to continue racing. His first season was 2004-2005, they bought their first car from Mike Robertson. As always, this continued to be a family operation with he, his brother and his mom all doing what they could to get Taylor to the track.
Taylor would continue racing and having success at Bowman Gray winning a 100-lap Sportsman event, collecting a couple pole awards and also winning the 2014 Championship over the course of a decade. Taylor faced some personal issues in 2015 that really made him step back and lose the fire to step behind the wheel and actually sold out. The only thing left was the tool box at one point, he decided to buy a boat and enjoy life. At the beginning of the 2016 season, he texted fellow competitor, who was also sitting out, Derek Stoltz and expressed to him how much it ate at him not being at the track. With this being said he realized he had once again caught the racing bug.
Shortly after Taylor talked to his mother who pulled some strings and made it happen, they had bought another car and friend Keithe Whisenhunt bought a trailer. With this sprang Branch-Whisenhunt Motorsports. He brought the car over to the Stadium late in the 2016 season and really struggled. But did end up winning the season finale with the help of his brother which he refers to as “a setup guru.” At the end of the season, Taylor decided to send the car off to Stacy Puryear so he could work his magic.
Taylor sank all of what he had into getting the setup and chassis right on this car and actually didn’t set aside any money to get the motor freshened for this 2017 season. But obviously this hasn't slowed him down one bit. A couple weeks into this season he found out his mother was diagnosed with cancer as well. This once again took away the fire to race for Taylor. He talked with his mother and she stated: “You better have your tail in that race car on Saturday nights so you can win a race for me.” And that is exactly what he did this weekend and called it his best win yet. This win brings his win total to nineteen for his Bowman Gray career. Taylor stated that he would “win at all costs this year, doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from” just for his mother.
Be on the lookout for the black and gold #86 Sportsman car to win a few more races by season's end. He sits second in points behind leader Derek Stoltz.