Atwater, Minn., men bond on the road while working for NASCAR
Father and son Greg and Matt Tauer have a road trip tradition: When they arrive at their destination, they always eat at a restaurant, preferably one they’ve never tried before.
These days, they’re trying quite a few new restaurants while traveling across the country for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
In 2009, Matt Tauer started working for JHE Production Group, based in Harrisburg, N.C. JHE is contracted through Sprint to build and assemble mobile displays for all 36 races of the Cup Series.
As a logistics coordinator with JHE, Matt now spends nearly every week in a different city, driving a massive tractor trailer with the Sprint and NASCAR logos across the country. On some longer trips, when Matt needs a team driver on the road, JHE will hire his father, Greg Tauer of Atwater, to drive the trailer with him.
Greg made six trips with Matt last year, driving from Phoenix to Miami, Las Vegas to Charlotte, N.C., and Sonoma, Calif., to Daytona Beach, Fla. The longest trip they’ve ever taken was 2300 miles in the span of a few days.
“It’s a lot of traveling together,” said Greg Tauer, a salesman at Nelson International in Willmar and a member of the Atwater Fire Department. “We definitely grow closer on these trips.”
Matt, who graduated from Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City High School in 2005, grew up watching NASCAR with his father. He also raced go-karts for 10 years at the Grove Creek Speedway in Grove City.
After high school, he studied at the NASCAR Technical Institute and graduated in 2008. Deciding to pursue his dream of working for NASCAR, he moved to North Carolina and went from race shop to race shop, trying to find a job.
He had to come back home a few times (“I was broke,” he says), but one day, he got a call asking him to go to Atlanta the next day.
“It was either yes or no, and I said ‘yes,’” Matt said. “I knew it was what I wanted to do and what was in my heart. I have a fear of failure. I figured this might be my one chance to pursue my dream.”
And that dream has certainly come true: in his short career, Matt has already driven Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s personal vehicle and valeted for Jeff Gordon. He’s met Miss Sprint Cup Brooke Werner. He’s seen every part of the country except for the Northwest region.
One of the best parts, however, is sharing some of that experience with his dad.
“It’s quality time for us, especially since we don’t always get to see each other that much,” Matt said. “I never thought I’d get the opportunity to be at this level and to bring him along. It’s fun to share this with him.”
Greg says he’s “very proud” of his son’s career, although he won’t be working full-time for NASCAR himself anytime soon.
“These trips are enough for me,” Greg said with a laugh. “It’s very fun though for a part-time job. I get to go to places I’ve never been to.”
Some of those places include the races at Daytona Beach, the mountains of Fontana and the sunsets over New Mexico. And, true to their Minnesota roots, every time they drive through Texas, they stop at a Dairy Queen.
Greg knows that he’s lucky to spend this time with his son, and he doesn’t take it for granted.
“We both enjoy every bit of what we do together,” Greg said. “I really cherish that time with him. I’m blessed to have the relationship with him that I do. I know that not all families are lucky enough to have that.”