Cincinnati Bengals’ first-year coach Zac Taylor admitted that he has never been to a NASCAR race but was excited to be able to drive the Pace Car for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
“That’s what’s great about the offseason, you get to have the chance to do stuff like this,” he said about attending the Quaker State 400.
“I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve driven 45 mph a million times but until you get into a race car and really get a chance to feel what it’s like. There is a little bit of pregame getters going on with me, but it’s a really unique experience for me and I’m really excited.”
Taylor said going out into the community is good for not just the organization, but for himself in his initial voyage with the Bengals.
“It’s good to get out and get the chance to meet a lot of different people and to just hear what their experiences are and what their fan support is like,” he said. “Sometimes when you isolate yourself in the building and only around other coaches, you lose a little bit of what the organization means to all these people around here.”
Last year, the voice of the Cincinnati Reds and legendary FOX Sports Ohio commentator, Marty Brennaman was in the pace car.
“I have big shoes to fill,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the pit crews have welcomed him and used terminology that he would relate too as he toured the track.
“What has been intriguing for me has been the process,” Taylor said. “We got the chance to go back stage and see all the pit crews and what they go through. A lot of them used football terminology, ‘here’s our head coach, here’s our OC,’ and that puts it into perspective for us.”
Being at Kentucky Speedway has given Taylor the ability to learn more about NASCAR.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the past four hours, but it’s been really neat,” Taylor said. “You have a fan for life after what I’ve experienced today.”
It wasn’t just NASCAR that Taylor mentioned Saturday. Taylor and the Bengals are working hard to prepare for the upcoming NFL season after Cincinnati went 6-10 last season under former coach Marvin Lewis.
“It’s been great,” he said. “Really excited for the season. It really starts with our staff and players and they’ve really bought into the things we want to do. We’re working for each other and playing for the city so it’s been nothing but a great experience.
“Obviously they (the fans) want to win. It’s such a great football town. It really is a special place. If you haven’t lived here then you don’t understand until you are a part of it.”
Taylor coached at the University of Cincinnati for a year and now he is back to coach at the professional level.
“It’s the community that my wife and I fell in love with,” he said. “It’s a special place and the people are great. They have really taken in me and my family. Really awesome that it worked out and that we were able to come to Cincinnati and be a part of the Bengals organization.”
Taylor hopes to have a successful first year and get the Bengals to the playoffs and finally win a playoff game.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to represent Cincinnati and put something on the field that they are very proud of,” he said.
The Cincinnati Bengals open the preseason at Kansas City Aug. 10. Its first home game will be Aug. 22 against the New York Giants.