In the Fast Lane with Alex Tauras

All in all, Alex Tauras pays it forward while living his dreams in NASCAR.

All in all, Alex Tauras pays it forward while living his dreams in NASCAR.

Quite simply, Alex Tauras possesses a racer’s heart with an old school approach.  While most recognize the drivers during race weekends, people like Tauras work diligently behind the scenes for JD Motorsports.

Originally from Valparaiso, Ind., Tauras’ journey into motorsports is quite unique.  Fate certainly led Tauras towards a path into NASCAR but not in the most traditional manner.

In fact, Tauras, who may not hail from a stock car driven locale, piqued his curiosity by tinkering with a neat compact car.  From there, one could say that Tauras carved his own path that could honestly inspire others.

Humble, amiable, but poised, Tauras lets his efforts and work speak for those he represents.  By all means, his kindness and desire towards genuine interactions with fans at the track and social media is second to none.  After all, the Hoosier State native brings a bit of the racetrack experience for those who may not make the trek each weekend.

Still, Tauras embodies those he works with and those he’s connected with over the years.  While most prefer to stick to their jobs and do the bare minimum, Tauras goes above and beyond.  For that, the world of motorsports absolutely benefits with someone like Tauras who encapsulates the genuine NASCAR way.

Often seen in the garage with a JD Motorsports polo and a smile, Tauras recently shared his story about making the journey into NASCAR.  On that note, let’s get “In the Fast Lane with Alex Tauras” and let him guide us along with his unique perspective and anecdotes in the motorsports circles!

Rob Tiongson :  Firstly, thanks for joining us here on The Podium Finish!  For the race fans just getting to know you, tell us how you caught the racing bug and worked your way into racing.

Alex Tauras :  It all starts with my cousin’s 2002 Subaru WRX. He let me drive it one weekend when he was over. I really saw the potential those cars had, so I got one of my own, a 2004 Subaru WRX, and started tinkering.

From there, I got heavily into the street racing scene and the drag strip scene, and that’s kind of where my racing bug bit me. As far as getting into racing, I went to Belmont Abbey College and had to do internships. Originally, I wanted to go the engine tuner/building route, but it didn’t work out that way. I was hired as a social media/marketing/PR guy and I’ve kind of made that my home. Don’t get me wrong, I still love what I do, but I’m a numbers guy. I’m pretty nerdy.

Rob Tiongson :  Currently, you work with JD Motorsports with their social media and public relations efforts.  What is a normal week like for you during the season and what makes being with JD Motorsports a truly special experience?

Without a doubt, Tauras is a true utility player.

Without a doubt, Tauras is a true utility player.

Alex Tauras :  A normal week? What’s that? There are no normal weeks at JD Motorsports. Every day, every week, is something new and different, which I suppose makes work a little easier. There’s always a variety of problems to figure out and things to get done.

So, besides the usual social stuff, I also keep all the radios ready, find people that would want to cater our race team for the weekend, as well as, manage the credential lists and do the rosters. There’s a lot more to all of this than most people expect, so I typically wear a lot of different hats.

Being on a team like Johnny’s is unique because we’re small, but we want to run and race as hard as we possibly can each week. We don’t have the big team budget, but we certainly make the most with what we got.

Rob Tiongson :  We know how racing can be quite a grind and long season.  What are some ways you try to not let the pressure or stress get to you? And who are some of your favorites that you hang out with at the track?

Alex Tauras :  Ah, yes, the stress. Typically, I’m not super stressed, but that’s by design. I make sure my stuff is done and I’ve built in some redundancies to make sure that if something does go wrong, I’ve got multiple options to make it happen.

At the track, when I do have a few minutes to hangout or relax, I usually go talk to the other PR people. There’s nothing more valuable than fostering connections and relationships. The PR people in my “circle” are truly class acts and have helped me when I’ve needed them most. I would certainly always help them should they ever need it.

However, my most favorite thing to do is to somehow make Wayne Auton smile and shake his head at me. I call him Poppa Wayne, and we have a really good relationship. Most days, I just like to push his buttons just a little bit. Usually, I wave to him for a few minutes straight as he’s walking through the garage.

Other times, I’ll stand right outside his door and just stand there for a few minutes like I need something. And when he says, “What do you want now?!” I just tell him I wanted to say hello to my most favorite person in the garage. (laughs)

Rob Tiongson :  You’ve worked with a Who’s Who of NASCAR including Landon Cassill, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ross Chastain, and Garrett Smith.  What have those drivers helped bring to the table that’s made you even better with what you do?

Alex Tauras :  You know, now that I’m thinking about this, each of our drivers has their own quirks and ways they want things done. From Ross liking things a certain way, to Garrett wanting it a different way. Each one has had his challenges, but you learn to adapt and overcome a lot of different things. I guess what I’m trying to say, but doing it terribly, is that you learn to maximize the resources you have to accomplish whatever it is they need from you.

Rob Tiongson :  One of the great things that you bring to the table for race fans is how you bring the racetrack closer to them no matter where they are.  Would you say some of the inspiration for those projects or efforts came from your experiences as a fan?

Often times, Tauras does his part on pit road for the JD Motorsports brigade. (Photo Credit: Logan Arce/Action Sports Photography)

Often times, Tauras does his part on pit road for the JD Motorsports brigade. (Photo Credit: Logan Arce/Action Sports Photography)

Alex Tauras :  To be honest, I started watching NASCAR in 2011, so I wasn’t a fan for very long. A lot of my inspiration really comes from me wanting to showcase what it really takes to be on a team. Some of the technical stuff I’ve done have been people asking for it, or I saw something, and it sparked an idea. To be brutally honest, I just want to deliver solid content. Whatever that may be. Sometimes, I take a risk and hope it works out.

Rob Tiongson :  Whether it’s the off season or an off weekend, what are some of your favorite activities or things to do away from the track?

Alex Tauras :  Truthfully, if we’re not racing, I really don’t want to do much. We travel so much that free time is best done at home. I absolutely love spending time with my wife Mandy. Most off days are spent doing stuff that needs to be done, or whatever the wife wants to do…which is usually shopping. I used to be real bad about going and doing stuff, but I’m really trying hard to go do things. (laughs)

Rob Tiongson :  I’ve asked some of your team’s various drivers this question in the past. But, it’s your turn.  What is your “Welcome to NASCAR” moment, be it a learning lesson or a hilarious moment?

Alex Tauras :  This is a tough one. I wouldn’t really say it was a “Welcome to NASCAR” moment but falling over pit wall during a race last year at Dover would be my funny one. For whatever reason, the camera zoomed in right on me as if they knew it was going to happen. For the record, I hate each and every one of you that have posted it to my Facebook whenever you see it. (laughs)

Rob Tiongson :  Having made the move from Indiana to North Carolina, would you say it took some time for your peers to accept you into the fold with being a “Yankee” in their eyes?

Alex Tauras :  Not really. My wife is a Southern Belle, so she’s taught me the ways of the south. I actually blend in pretty well most of the time. The only time you really would know is when I have to say northern town names.

Rob Tiongson :  You’re someone who constantly pays it forward in racing.  When you first got into NASCAR, who helped you along the way?

Alex Tauras :  My first real chance in NASCAR was due to the late Mark Smith. He was the owner of Tri-Star and PME. I did my first internship with PME, so that’s where I started making connections. I absolutely owe a lot of my success to the Smith family.

Also, Tom Cotter is one of the ones that has helped me along the way. Tom was a teacher of mine at Belmont Abbey College and had built one of the most successful PR firms in racing.

Rob Tiongson :  Through this sport, one can meet extraordinary fans who make a big difference in our lives.  What’s it like to be able to have that shared experience, whether it’s Ryan Passwaters or the late Cooper Stout?

For Coop.

For Coop.

Alex Tauras :  It’s hard to say. Every fan I’ve had an interaction with has left me with a memory. Lately, it’s been the r/NASCAR crowd that I’ve had the most interaction with, but each one I’ve met has been awesome. I keep thinking back to all the people I have met through racing. But Coop and Ryan sure do stand out. Not because what we, and I’m not going to say “I” because that’s not fair, were able to do for them, but just because you never forget the smiles.

Truthfully, it’s the smiles that stand out. Seeing both Ryan and Coop smile and do it with such sincerity just kind of puts things into perspective. Sure, we have a rough go at times, but these two have had bigger problems, yet they still smile through it all. It makes you realize that at the end of the day, your biggest problems really aren’t that big after all. There are others out there that are facing bigger challenges then what you have going on. Be thankful for what you got.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Alex of JD Motorsports for taking the time to share his unique experiences in NASCAR!  You can follow along with Alex and the team on their Twitter!  Above all, this article is dedicated in the memory of Cooper Stout, a young race fan who’ll always be remembered!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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