By Douglas McColloch
Starting at her father’s shop as a child, Taylor learned the craft of building race cars at a young age. While still in high school, she began building her first car, a '68 Camaro that she raced the following year at Hot Rod Drag Week; at 16 years of age, she was the event's youngest competitor. In the 10 years since then, she's managed to earn a bachelor's degree in marketing, run a 6-sec. quarter in her '55 Chevy 210, won back-to-back Roadkill Nights Hellcat Grudge Matches, and launched another career as the co-host of "Hot Rod Garage." Her business has recently expanded to an 8,000-sq.-ft. facility in Booneville, Arkansas.
We chatted with Taylor recently to learn more about this multitalented individual. What follows has been edited for clarity and length.
SEMA News: What's your latest project? What's in your driveway/garage/studio?
Alex Taylor: My latest project isn't a car--it's the shop I just purchased! I am currently in the process of remodeling it and setting up a space that will allow for race car storage, an area for content creation, and room for the ATR brand to grow.
SN: Describe your first race. What do you remember most about it?
AT: I was 16. My dad, mom and I had built my first car that I was originally just going to drive to high school--a '68 Camaro. I had wanted to do Hot Rod Drag Week since 2007, and as we were building it, Dad said we could build it for me to take on Drag Week if I wanted to.
I raced it in the Daily Driver class. I started the week running high 12s and ended up running 11.70s by the end of the week. When it was all said and done, Dad came and picked us back up, and I drove the car back to high school the following Monday.
SN: You started working in your dad's shop at a very young age. What's the very first job you remember doing?
AT: My parents owned a business building production fiberglass Fords and Willys. When I was probably seven or eight, I started helping lay up fiberglass after school for fun. They would hand me a roller, and while they would work, I would help roll the bubbles out.
SN: How steep was the learning curve to become a co-host for "Hot Rod Garage?" How is it different from, say, producing a YouTube video?
AT: It wasn't that bad. The biggest adjustment was getting used to working in someone else’s garage at first--learning what tools we had and where they were. I'm thankful to work with an incredible crew that made me feel welcome from day one. YouTube, for me, is a lot more drawn out. I like to show details and tell stories and explain things, whereas on "Hot Rod Garage," everything is a lot more summarized and fast-paced.
SN: You've also been a judge for SEMA's Battle of the Builders competition. How did you approach the assignment, and what did you learn from it?
AT: It was a really cool experience. I was nervous going into it because out of the other influencer judges, I had the smallest following, I was the youngest, I had the least equipment and I had never done anything like it. I learned there that confidence is key, and the thing that matters most is how you present yourself.
SN: You're the two-time defending champion at Roadkill Nights' Hellcat Grudge Match. Are you planning for a three-peat in 2023?
AT: I think the Dodge/Motor Trend crew may be going a different route this year on the grudge match, so I don't know if I will be competing in that part. I will be at RKN, though, with the '55.
SN: Between wrenching, racing, hosting a TV show, staying active on social media and running your own business, how and where do you find time to unwind?
AT: I don't really. I get to work with my family and friends for almost everything I do, though, so even when we’re gone on "work trips," we still find ways to squeeze in a nice dinner or some fun here and there. I feel like now is the time to work hard and grow and I can unwind more later. But don't get me wrong--I still stop and enjoy the moments I'm living.
SN: What advice can you give to young women who might want to get involved in racing but who don't have any family connections to the sport?
AT: Enjoy the process. Find something in the industry that interests you (racing, building, welding, painting, photography, business, etc.) and start researching it online. Knowledge is your best friend. Find people you look up to or trust and ask questions. Learn and absorb, and you will naturally grow and evolve.
SN: Describe a perfect day in the life of Alex Taylor.
AT: It depends on the day! Some days I'm behind the laptop, some days are on the road, some days are out in the shop, and some days are just spent on a random adventure. I like having that mix, and if I had any kind of redundancy, it would drive me nuts. Routine can be good--but too much routine kills my creativity.
SN: What's your next goal as a racer/builder?
AT: I really want to grow the ATR brand. I want to get my shop finished so I can get more into the business side of selling stuff like private-label parts and filling areas that I see gaps.
"You can never go fast enough." That's the motto of Alex Taylor--racer, builder, influencer, TV personality and successful business owner.