A North Carolina State University senior from Roaring River will soon be racing on national TV as he tries to win $10,000 during the first season of SPEED TV’s, “RU Faster Than a Redneck?”
Taylor Ward is among 16 non-professional challengers driving foreign imports on the show as they race against “redneck” regulars in American muscle cars.
The episodes were filmed at the Carolina Motor Sports Kershaw, S.C., in May, so he knows how they turned out. However, he signed an agreement stating that he wouldn’t divulge details before the shows air on TV.
Ward and the other challengers are mostly in their 20s and the rednecks are mostly in their 40s and 50s. Ward is 21 now, but was 20 when his episode was filmed.
This season’s eight 30-minute episodes begin with a season premier on Feb. 22. Ward was filmed for the fifth episode, but he doesn’t know for sure when it will air.
“They want it to be like ‘American Gladiators’ with cars,” said Ward.
“American Gladiators” was a TV series that pitted amateur athletes against the show’s gladiators in contests of strength and agility. In “RU Faster Than a Redneck,” the rednecks are the gladiators.
“I told them (some of the rednecks) that I was from Wilkes County, they said ‘I was playing for the wrong side.’”
“RU Faster Than a Redneck?” has been advertised as a “racing competition show that seeks to answer the age old question: ‘Which is faster – American muscle or imported performance cars?’ To find out, we’re following a cast of drivers and American muscle car enthusiasts we call ‘rednecks.’ They are all from the South and show great, natural charm and humor in the tradition of ‘Larry The Cable Guy’ style, blue-collar comedy.
Jon Reep, a comedian and actor known as the “Metro Jethro,” hosts the shows.
Ward said that after he submitted an initial application for the competition, he was asked to submit a video showing him driving his car and answering questions like, “How do you feel about rednecks?”
He was among about 30 drivers invited to try out at the track. Each driver was allowed five warm-up laps before driving a qualifying race around the track, which is .987 of a mile long.
Driving his 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Ward was among 16 drivers to qualify for an episode. His all-wheel-drive car has a 326 HP motor with 354 pounds of torque. Ward did some of the work on the car himself with the help of friends.
Producers of “RU Faster Than a Redneck?” paired up the 16 challengers with rednecks in races that are two to three laps long. Ward said he tried to play it straight and not say anything with negative repercussions when he was filmed for prerace hype.
For each episode, two challengers take on rednecks in separate races. If one challenger wins, he advances to a final race against a redneck and the chance to win $10,000. If both challengers win or lose, the one with the fastest time advances.
Although he wasn’t paid anything, Ward said he received valuable racing experience. The owner of 42 Auto Sports in Concord gave him free racing lessons and worked on his car.
Races for the show were filmed in May, while Ward was also preparing for final exams at N.C. State. He is the son of Dudley and Janice Ward.
Ward already competes in the street modified class in auto cross racing, which involves trying to finish with the fastest time while weaving through traffic cones in a parking lot.
He’s been racing since he was in high school and has been interested in racing and cars since his father, Dudley Ward, took him to a drag race at Wilkesboro Raceway Park west of Wilkesboro when he was younger.
He graduated from East Wilkes High School in 2009 and is scheduled to graduate from N.C. State in May with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.