Hi, my name’s Taylor Muto. I was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. I currently work for Preston Kilroy at the BarX/Chaparral/Suzuki Amateur motocross team. I’m 26 years old and have been a full-time race mechanic since 2015.
What kickstarted your interest in motorcycles?
My dad, Tim Muto, rode since he was a kid so he got my brother and me into riding when we were 4 years old. We had a big group of friends that we would always go to tracks and camp with out in El Mirage. It was some of the best times for sure.
Do you have any experience racing dirt bikes?
My first race I did was a GFI race at Elsinore on 80s. I went DNF-1 for 1st place overall in the first-timer class. There was only one other dude in the class and he bailed after the first moto (laughs). The only other racing I did was a desert race in Cal City when I was 15 or 16. I passed a few dudes and was running good but I forgot a section of the course and wadded pretty bad. Mangled my dad’s 450 and don’t remember too much after that (laughs). That was it though, not much racing.
What made you want to pursue a job as a mechanic?
Growing up I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career. After high school, I told myself I’ve got two years to figure something out. I saw a commercial for MMI and filled out some information on their website. One of their “recruiters” kept calling me and calling me until I eventually decided to go there. I was always passionate about motorcycles but I had zero mechanical experience, I didn’t even know what a torque wrench was (laughs). But I worked hard, asked a million questions, and met some great people who helped me learn along the way.
What is a typical day at the track like for you?
Go to the shop, get the bike. Usually get to the track around 8:45 am, unload the bike, setup the EZ-UP, and talk with the other mechanics until the rider shows up (or go water if the track is dry). Then it’s just lap times, hold the pit board, and talk over line choices or what lap times the pros are running. Besides staying on top of the spokes, chain, and gas, if you do your job right the night before you should have an easy day with the bike. You always got to do a bolt check but after working with the same model of bike for a while you start to learn which bolts need more attention than others. I usually leave the track around 1-2 pm then it’s back to the shop to really start the work.
Most rewarding experience you’ve had while working as a mechanic?
It’d have to be last year at Mammoth, winning the 250 B/C title with Austin Black. We had such a rough year in 2018 with countless injuries, he missed Mammoth, Loretta’s, and Monster Cup. We were roommates at the Grindstone Compound in SoCal and things got to a pretty low point. He’s a tough kid though and he worked his ass off to get back to where he was. I feel like a lot of people have the wrong perception about Austin; the kid has got such a big heart and he’s such a nice kid. We had such a close relationship, he’s like a little brother to me. I saw all the work he put in and all the speed he was showing at the practice track. Lots of blood sweat and tears and it wasn’t an easy road for either of us. He had gotten close to a couple of titles earlier in the week at Mammoth and we’d been having brake issues all week. The last lap I don’t think I’d ever been so nervous for a rider before. I could barely get a word out when he met me on the podium because I was trying so hard not to start crying (laughs). It was an emotional moment for both of us because we both knew exactly what it took to get there. I was a very proud mechanic that day!
Most challenging experience you’ve had while working as a mechanic?
For sure would have to be Mini Os 2015 with Max Miller. First I had to drive the RV from Oregon to Florida by myself and it was my first time ever driving an RV. Max’s dad was racing and Max was racing like six different classes. I was wide open the entire week taking care of four different bikes, filling up gas tanks on the line because there was a ton of back to back motos, running back and forth to our pit, I started chaffing pretty bad, it was not a fun time. In the end, though we left with four titles and it started off what was a great year for us. Then we went straight to the AZ Open for another week of racing. I was smoked by the end of it all!
What other sports are you into besides motocross?
I’m into a ton of different sports but football, F1, and basketball would be the top three.
Best road trip story?
Driving the Grindstone Compound truck and trailer to the Evergood Open in Iowa. I went solo and had plenty of time to get there so I was filling up the truck before it got to a quarter tank so I could use the restroom and get food, I didn’t really notice I was doing it. But I when I was about to enter a Utah National Forrest (don’t remember the highway) the truck randomly died and I had terrible cellphone service. I called Cari Schehr (the owner of Grindstone) freaking out because I thought I’d broke something on the truck. Then she let me know the truck runs out of gas at a quarter tank (she forgot to mention it earlier). I called a pizza place in the closest town to bring me gas because we weren’t sure if AAA was going to show. AAA eventually showed up and the trip went smoothly, until I got to Nebraska. Midway through Nebraska one of the panels on the trailer peeled back like a tuna can. I nursed the rig into a Walmart parking lot and spent a couple of hours hammering it back and putting in a ton of nails to hold it down. I started off the trip with plenty of time and I ended up getting to the hotel at 11 pm the night before practice, driving straight through the night before and going to practice the next day at 6 am. That was for sure the most tired I’ve ever been while driving. It wasn’t the safest decision but sometimes you gotta make it happen.
Favorite race of the year?
Its got to be Mammoth. It’s so beautiful up there and there’s so much history at that track. I’ve been going up there since I was a kid on P-Dubs back when you could get to the track not during a race weekend and get some laps in until the ranger came and kicked us out. There’s so much to do up there outside of the racing, I always try to get up there a few days early for the mini racing and just some extra time to soak it all in. Freestone is a close second though, the Millers do a great job with that race. Their whole staff is a bunch of amazing people, plus you can’t beat Big Hal’s bbq.
Favorite professional racer from the past or present?
Kevin Windham for sure. The guy is so talented on a bike, his opening ceremony transfers were legendary. Thanks to Dano I got to meet him and spend some time with him away from the track on a few different occasions. He was always a super down to earth guy, it was really cool at the time.
What’s your best advice for a new mechanic just starting out?
Even if you know what to do ask questions. It’s always better to do something the way your boss or manager wants it done. That way if there are any issues that arise, and you did everything the way you were told, you’re in the clear. Don’t put your pit board in front of another mechanics and always remember the rider makes the mechanic, the mechanic doesn’t make the rider. Tightening bolts on a bike that goes around a track faster than someone else’s doesn’t make you better than anyone.
Nominate one of your buddies to fill out the MPG ‘Wrench’ profile.
Travis Parry @travispary_tg at Team Green, let’s hear it bud! We both went to MMI at the same time together but took separate paths to get to where we are today. It’ll be interesting to hear what he’s got to say. Thanks for the opportunity to do this MPG!