We Asked the Champs Who Could Get Through Traffic The Best in the Big Apple
Bumper to bumper action, swerving, weaving, door to door battles for a spot only big enough for one machine, close competition that is sometimes results in bent sheetmetal and hot tempers, a war on wheels.
“These taxi drivers are good at getting through traffic, but they aren’t smooth on the throttle,” said NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Tony Hirschman.  “They would have the tires burned off the racecar in no time.  They could make some holes and get to the front in a hurry, but they wouldn’t last.  Within 10 laps, they’d be backing up and the beeper would be on.”

So who does that describe on the Whelen Tour?

“Wow,” said Hirschman.  “You’ve got me now.  There are a few drivers that we have like that.  But it’s hard to say any names.  I don’t want to get anyone in a spot.  I’m not going to say any names.  I’ve got to race against them next year.”
We could tell when Hirschman’s face lit up and a name popped into his head, so we asked him if he had someone in mind, but wouldn’t say it out loud.

“Oh yeah,” replied Hirschman.  “I sure do.”

But he still wouldn’t tell us.

Other drivers were a little more open, but might regret that fact when the racing season starts up again.

“I think it would be [Steve] Portenga because he hits everything,” said West Series champion Mike Duncan.  “He’ll ram right through them all and get you there on time.”
“Brandon Riehl,” said Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson.  “He’s a wild man.  He would fit right in as a taxi driver.  He goes all out and that would be right up his alley.”

“I’d have to say it would be Dan Holtz because he doesn’t take any shit from nobody,” said Southwest Series champion Jim Pettit.  “He’s strong.  He will race you like you race him.  If you give it to him, he will go after you.”

Speed51.com made the champions pick someone from their own series, but Pettit also had someone else in mind from another of the Elite regional series.

“Of course if you want a really hard-nosed guy [from any of the Elite division], there’s [2005 NASCAR Southeast Series champion] Jeff Fultz.”
Taxis are everywhere in New York City!
Those terms could describe many short track races in the NASCAR Touring ranks, but they also could easily describe something more familiar to millions of city dwellers – the way of life that taxi drivers in New York City face every day and night just doing their jobs.

With so many parallels between the two worlds, Speed51.com decided to ask the NASCAR Touring champions who were in New York City last week for NASCAR Champions Week who from their series would be good behind the wheel of a New York cab.

But first, what are the qualities that the two types of drivers share?
Sure, you have to be a good driver to make it to New York, but does that mean that a champion could successfully drive in New York?  (51 Photos)
Fultz overheard that comment and agreed completely.

“Yeah, I’ll blast my way right through,” said Fultz.

Fultz also thought of a fellow competitor who would fit the mold in SES competition..

“I’d say it would be Jason Hogan,” said Fultz.  “He races pretty hard and doesn’t take any crap.  He races hard and he races clean too.”

Another Southerner might do pretty well also.

“Those taxi cab drivers have their own style,” said NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified champion Junior Miller.  “You’d need somebody who could fill a hole really quick.  I’d say Frank Fleming could do that.”
Midwest Series champion Justin Diercks mentioned Eddie Hoffman as a guy who would likely be great behind the wheel of a cab.

NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series champion Peyton Sellers took the high road and wouldn’t drop any names.

“I don’t know right off,” said Sellers at first.  After thinking for a moment, he clammed up.

“I’d hate to get anyone in trouble,” said the well-mannered 21-year-old.

And some drivers were picked more because of their attitude and physical attributes than their driving style.

Jeff Fultz picked Jason Hogan as a good driver to wheel a cab.  But if you climbed into a taxi and saw this character behind the wheel, wouldn't you take your chances walking instead?
If Matt Kobyluck drove a cab, he probably wouldn't get robbed very much.
“I’d say just about anybody would do well,” said Busch North champion Andy Santerre.  “But if I had to pick one, I’d say probably [Matt] Kobyluck because he’s big and wears an earring.  He looks the part.  I don’t think anyone would hold him up.”

Since Kobyluck stands 6’5” at 230 pounds, works out and shaves his head, we would tend to agree with Santerre.  He’s not someone who you would want to try to stiff a fare.

Burt and Jason Myers didn’t win the Southern Modified championship this season, but the two racers were in New York to represent their family at the annual Myers Brothers Breakfast.  They liked the idea of trying to drive taxis themselves.
“It depends because they run into stuff,” said Burt Myers.  “But probably, we both would [be good at it].  I’ve been up here several times and this was the first time that I drove in here.  I love driving in the city like this.  They go.  They get it on.  You’ve got a lot of horn blowing.  If people up here drove back home, they’d have to tie their horn button down.  They’d be on it all the time.”

“I’m with Burt,” said Jason Myers.  “I’d like to run into stuff and keep going.”

Jason wasn’t sure that he was qualified to judge who he races against would also be good at taxi-driving.

“I don’t know,” said Jason.  “I haven’t ridden in a car with many of them.”
But when we pointed out that Junior Miller picked Frank Fleming, they thought that he would be a good choice.

“That would be about right,” said Jason.

Truck Series champion and former short track kingpin Ted Musgrave thinks that maybe we had it in reverse.  Instead of having racecar drivers wheel taxis, maybe the taxi drivers should try racing.

“Well, I’ll tell you what, I don’t think that anyone that I know could even make it in the Big Apple,” said Musgrave of the drivers who he remembers from his short track days.  “From what I could see from the ASA and the ARTGO days, I don’t know how to relate to that now.  It’s been so long and there were so many good drivers there.

"We were so cautious to try and bring the car home without scratching it up.  The way that they drive here, that wouldn’t happen.

“I’d hate the race against these guys.  They would be pretty wild, especially at a place like Talladega.  I really think so.  There is only one lane to pick and then you go.  That would be cool to have a New York 500.  You get Nextel to put a bunch of taxi drivers into a sweepstakes and take them all to Talladega and let them go.  You could paint the taxis up like racecars and see how it would turn out.”

Or they could just loan a few cans to the touring champions.  There were a few who thought that would be a very good idea.

“We’re going to go out and run taxi cabs after this [interview]”, joked Pettit.  “Me and Fultz will race - and I’m going to lay a bumper to him.”

There are a few Southern Mod guys who think that Frank Fleming could get them through New York traffic fast.