Women in Motorsports: Deriann Taylor

Texas Spec Miata racer is getting the job done both on and off track

Deriann Taylor is looking for a way to get to the NASA National Championships or perhaps into pro racing, and she’s pulling out all the stops to do it. The 21-year-old Spec Miata racer from New Braunfels, Texas, has displayed her car in nearby dealerships to promote herself and the idea that Mazdas make great racecars. She started a fundraising effort called “The Texas 100.” Her mother sends out newsletters after her races. Then she says she’s “not the best at promoting my brand.” Obviously she downplays her efforts. 

Her on-track results, on the other hand, are hard to downplay. Those results include winning the Teen Mazda Challenge two years ago, being a two-time candidate for the Mazda Road to 24 scholarship and currently sitting third in the NASA Texas Region Spec Miata points. She still will not crow about her results, though.

“This season I think I’ve made every race,” she says. “I was hoping this year was going to be a strong season for me, but I’ve had the same car since I started. My first year, I took a big hit – this car has been through so much.”

Despite the difficulties, Taylor and her team have been pushing through, planning for future success. “We have another ’99 and next year we’re going to take everything that’s salvageable and put it into the new car. Next year we will be strong. I’m just barely hanging on this year.”

Third in the points would seem to counter that assessment, however, but that’s the mark of someone who has high expectations of herself. Those expectations have been developed over many years, because Taylor started in karts a dozen years ago. When it came time to move to cars, she looked at several options, but once she saw Spec Miata, she was hooked.

“My dad took me to a bunch of races. He took me to dirt, he took me to oval track and I didn’t see anything I liked. Then he took me to a NASA race at MSR Houston, and it was 30 Miatas. Oh my gosh, they were so cute, and they looked like so much fun – and they’re little. I think I liked that they were little because I was 14,” she says.

Taylor says she loves Miatas, and wants an ND for her street car. And she loves racing them. Ultimately, she’d love to make racing a career – she’s working at safety equipment manufacturer Simpson now – but has no intention of stopping whether she makes it as a pro or not.

“It’s the same old story – I tried every sport. I wasn’t bad at other sports, but I didn’t like it,” she says. “When I was little, I got one of those Barbie Jeeps and I would go around the neighborhood, go into neighbors’ driveways and drift down. My dad told me that when I was 6, it was a Sunday morning and he went into my room and I had an Australian Supercar race on. It’s my favorite sport, and once I started, no other can compare.”