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July 31, 2003

to help deaf man race

From: Charleston Daily Mail, WV - Jul 31, 2003

Brad McElhinny
Daily Mail staff

Thursday July 31, 2003; 10:00 AM

Jeremy Taylor can see the blur of the grandstands and he can feel the thrill of the race.

All that's missing is the roar of the engine, but that doesn't matter much to him.

"I love it," said Taylor, who is deaf. "It's fun to pass the other cars. I can see all around and just hear a little from the cars."

Taylor has been driving semi-late model racecars for three years, but he recently ran into an obstacle. He had trouble getting a crew together and couldn't race much.

Fortunately, Taylor is a state employee and he had struck up a friendship with Eric Denemark, the director of the state Motorsports Council. The two communicated with handwritten notes and by e-mail.

One day, when the two ran into each other in a Capitol hallway, Denemark asked how the racing was going. Taylor explained his problem.

"By golly, I'll crew for you," Denemark recalled saying.

So, Denemark shot out an e-mail to other members of the Motorsports Council and got a crew together. They plan to help Taylor race at Beckley Speedway this Friday night.

The crew will have the help of Lisa Amoroso, an employee in the governor's office, who will interpret with sign language.

Denemark said he can imagine a few challenges. He said it helps to hear your spotter over the radio, to listen to the competition director's announcements and to hear the way the engine is performing.

But he said Taylor and the crew will find a way to overcome those difficulties.

"I would think it would be a handicap to drive a racecar like anything else," Denemark said.

Officials in the governor's office are predicting Taylor will put as much enthusiasm toward his race as he does his job. The 23-year-old Clay County resident works in the mailroom, hustling around the Capitol hallways to make sure things are delivered.

Amy Shuler Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the governor, has enlisted Taylor's help to learn sign language.

"He's really encouraged me to sign to him when I see him," Goodwin said. "A lot of folks in the office have taken up signing, and he's been a great instructor for us."

Right now, Taylor is concentrating on the upcoming race. He doesn't seem worried about his own performance. He's thinking more about the track conditions.

"I've never raced at Beckley Speedway," he said.

"I don't know how good the track is."

© Copyright 2003 Charleston Daily Mail