Harold Taylor, M.D., '86, is board certified in emergency medicine and works as an attending physician at Bethesda Medical Center Arrow Springs and Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at Detroit Medical Center. Dr. Taylor is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Before Election Day, Nov. 2, 2004, he did his part to increase voter turnout and encourage voting in America with Vote Car – a unique car that he specially outfitted for the 2004 elections.
Q: What is the Vote Car?
A: It's a Kit Car, and I first saw it in 2001 at a Kit Car show in Carlisle, Pa. It was originally called an IndyCycle because it's a cross between an Indy car or a Formula 1 car and a motorcycle. There are less than 10 in the world. They come from the same kit, but everybody's are individualized.
Q: Is it classified as a car or a motorcycle?
A: You drive it as a car, but it's licensed as a motorcycle. You actually sit down in the car like you're an Indy driver with a steering wheel and two side mirrors. You shift with a paddle shifter. The clutch, accelerator, and brake are at the foot. They've taken the motorcycle's front forks off a Kawasaki ZRX1100, bolted it to the frame of the Kit Car, changed the linkages from the accelerator and brakes, so now you're sitting in a car instead of riding on a motorcycle.
Q: Is it a race car?
A: No, even though it looks like a race car, it's actually a street legal car. I use it for a fun car to drive on the streets or highway. It does have the capabilities of racing, but on the streets and highways of Ohio, the top speed is about 65 mph – that's only because the speed limit is this much. The top speed is over 110 mph.
When you're riding in the car, you have the perspective of being in a race car. You're strapped in like a real racer. I have a helmet on. Even though you don't necessarily have to wear a helmet, since I am an emergency medicine doctor, I do think about safety. So, I wear a helmet.
Q: Why did you have the car specially designed for the 2004 elections?
A: I bought the car with the intentions of just having fun initially. After I started driving it around and it got so much attention – it was just before the elections – I tried to think of some sort of paint or vinyl decal scheme to promote voting in America.
We live in a nation rich with opportunity to freely express our preferences, yet only half the people who are eligible to vote actually exercise that right and privilege.
Q: How did you use the Vote Car to encourage voting on Election Day?
A: It was in a presidential parade through the streets of Cincinnati. It was posted on a Web site that promoted voting across America, called November2.org. I also drove it around the streets of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio several months before the elections in November 2004. I got a lot of looks and stares because it caught people's eye. Then, they started asking about the car and wondering why it had Vote on the side. I told them it's to encourage them to vote, and hopefully, they will spread the word about it.
Q: Did you also sign up people to vote?
A: I did not sign up people to vote, but I did give them information about how to sign up to vote. It was easier to do that and to let them take responsibility. I just pointed them in the right direction.
Q: Were the 2004 elections the first time you participated in a campaign to encourage voter turnout?
A: Actually, I contributed to the building of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, which promotes voting by taking into account the past. This was before the Vote Car project. And, I've always voted because that's something that was instilled from childhood. When you're old enough to vote, you go vote. You do the research. You vote for whom you think is the right person or the right issue.
Q: Do you think the Vote Car encouraged more people to get out and vote?
A: I think in the limited geographical area, it probably encouraged some people to vote. I'm pretty sure it changed at least one person's mind about voting. I know it probably made a difference for some, and other people just saw it as an interesting car. Since it's such an unusual car, that's the first thing people see. Then, they look more and see that Vote is printed on the car. It was sort of my small way to get people out to vote.
Q: How long have you been interested in cars?
A: I've been interested in cars since even before medical school. My dream is to have more garage space and more cars to fill that space. I go to a lot of car shows and have hundreds to thousands of photographs of cars.
I actually built a car in a weekend. In Michigan, Mott Community College has a car build school where you can build a Kit Car with a group of people in a weekend. We went from almost nothing (boxes of parts) to a running car in three days.
Q: Do you see any similarities or connections between your passion for cars and your chosen field in emergency medicine?
A: It is fast paced at times just like racing, and it may be unpredictable. However, the routine is that you know it will be fast and unpredictable. Every lap requires a decision, in the same way as when I'm treating patients. The most important thing is to help the patient reach his goal.
Q: How did Medical School prepare you for your current position?
A: It is vitally important to acknowledge the role that each staff member plays in caring for the patient. I value the role that each emergency department staff nurse and technician plays. I think of them as colleagues.
One of my best rotations was emergency medicine where I learned how to sort priorities in patient care.
Medical school taught me how to set goals, understand the patient's problem, learn how to ask for help and get help when needed, and work as a team player.
Q: Do you have any fond memories from Medical School?
A: Spending long, late hours with Keith Crawford, Kevin Smith, Michele Morgan, and Ken Wells working through medical school work…Riding my bicycle around Hermann Park next to the Medical Center…Dr. Red Duke teaching and bringing in BBQ so we could eat in the emergency department… Working on the Medical School yearbook as a photographer… Running for Freshman Class President.
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