Hi there! My name is Taylor Haney, and I am the photographer for Clutch Chick Media. I've been taking photos and covering automotive events since 2015 when I was on staff for Girls 'N Garages magazine. GNG was a quarterly magazine geared towards women in the automotive industry, from enthusiasts to female leadership in the industry. This pursuit led to events all over the east coast, and two years of covering the SEMA show in Las Vegas. I've met some of the most amazing people along the way and told their stories through writing and photography.
While I was in college, I was a graphic design major with a minor in photography. These were some of my favorite times as a photographer because of the freedom I had to explore techniques, much of which I still use today! My journey in photography even led me to do a study abroad in Rome, Italy going into my senior year. That experience taught me so much about Roman culture, art history, and fueled my love for travel and meeting new people.
So what lead me to start shooting racing?
Well, my first feature was on a female drifter named Rachel. She had a bright pink Nissan 240sx s13 that she drifted at Englishtown NJ. I drove up to Delaware to shoot her and her car to tell her inspiring story. Up until this point, the only experience I had was shooting friends' cars, one drag racing event, and a few car shows. She told me how drifting and cars ultimately helped her recover from her previous drug addiction, and to become the strong woman she was fully capable of being. Later on that day, she told me about a drift event in two weeks that I HAD to come back up for. This was my first year at East Coast Bash.
The grassroots drift scene had me at hello.
Pulling up for the first time to Englishtown Raceway, the air was full of the sounds of whining SR20s, LS engines, and tire smoke. The setup of the event was lax, cool, and just one big party. This place just screamed "good times and good vibes" from the moment you get there. Spectators and drivers camped out at the track, watching drifting all day into the night. Afterward, you could find all of the drivers and friends at the track's own bar "Sneaky Pete's" to talk about the excitement (or disappointments) of the day. I was so hooked on how this place made me feel I knew I had to come back next year to cover it again. That event was also the first time I rode in a drift car, which ultimately fueled me getting a drift car three years later.
After that, I went on to cover other events like Formula Drift, autocross, dirt late models and other grassroots drift events. Every type of racing has its own separate set of rules, but the people in my experience are the same. Racing would be nothing without the camaraderie and the teams, friends, and organizations that support them. The media that shows up at these events are almost as important as the drivers because, while the drivers pay for the venue rental with their entry fees, without the media there would be no-one to tell the story of how awesome of a day it was. There would be no-one to encourage others to come to this same spot and spread the word on who was there and the success of the organization running the event.
Without organizations, there would be no event.
Sure, there are purists who still believe street racing and street drifting is cool. However, in order to encourage the success of the sport, its important to support your local organizations that provide a safe place to have fun. These are the people that really love the sport, many of them drivers or former drivers.
While I was living in Memphis, I joined such an organization called Traction Optional. T.O. has been around forever, but there was so much more potential. I was excited to both learn to drive and help lead the organization towards the cool vibes I experienced in my first impressions of Englishtown. However, I found firsthand that kind of energy is not easily duplicated. E-town is like the perfectly mad soup/concoction with just the right "stuff" to make people come back every weekend for more. That kind of stuff is built, not bought. Without the killer venue to support your efforts, its an uphill battle and it can wear on your mental health if you're not careful. We all want the same things, the racetrack to stay open and to get as much seat-time and fun as possible.
Either way, I was fortunate to help out the organization and continue to support the sport that I believe in. I still carried my goal of getting more women into cars (and drifting) long after ending my time with GNG magazine. Empowering women to take on something new like working on their car and the confidence to drive an event inspires and motivates me to always do better. In the last five years, I've seen so many women behind the wheel that the idea of them being the minority in racing has become a distant memory to me. I know the truth and we're everywhere whether anybody likes it or not.
Well, that's my story. See you out there!