Underground – C.T. Taylor

The Mechanic
C.T. Taylor works on muscle cars, surfboards, a family, and peace with God.
by Aaron Checkwood

Pull Quote- “Surfing is a really selfish sport. You’re out there trying to get your waves-it’s not a team thing.”

There’s nothing wrong with Carlton Taylor-really. A devoted father, husband, surfer/shaper, mechanic, and Christian, he’s about the straightest person you’ll ever meet. You see, Carlton, a.k.a. C.T., has dreams he never relents from-he pours every ounce of himself into them. Among all the chaos, his frenzied lifestyle creates mental stability, and that’s just the way he likes it. “I’m extremely busy, always in a rush-it’s crazy,” says Taylor.


At 25, he has a wife (Jennifer) of two years, and a one-year-old son (Curan, meaning a champion or a hero) in addition to the pile of responsibilities he claims to enjoy taking on. “I was like that before I had a family,” he says. “My personality can take on a lot of stuff between what I want to do, like to do, need to do, and then doing favors for friends and being involved with stuff and family-it’s psycho. I’m constantly on the go, but I have a lot of fun.”Running into C.T. Taylor, you’d think he was a complete jock. At 5’11” and 180 pounds, his muscular stature is more reminiscent of a football player than a professional surfer. He grew up in Satellite Beach, Florida, surfing with fellow standouts such as the Hobgoods and Jeremy Saukel, and was determined to become a professional surfer. At nineteen, he moved to California and found himself staying there all summer thanks to friendships created during the NSSA Nationals and U.S. Championships. In his eyes, he was set. He didn’t care about his living conditions, he was in California. “I ended up doing the full couch tour and living in my truck,” says Taylor.

A devout Christian for the past twelve years, C.T. became interested in the religion at the age of thirteen when a friend of his bamboozled him into thinking he was going to a surf movie, but instead took him to a bible study. So what began as a scam became a huge part of his life.

He’s not an ex-addict, ex-pimp, or ex-con-he’s a great surfer with a lot of talents he loves to focus on. In other cases this whole scenario would be scary because a lot of Christians have something to prove, but in C.T.’s case, it’s just him, and he feels like he has nothing to hide. “I never had a drug addiction, I never was into drinking and partying when I was in high school,” he remembers. “I was just kinda surfing and skating and doing other stuff. I was never in with the crowd that partied and did stuff like that. I never went to college or anything like that. I was just surfing and trying to do what I believed in and stuff as far as the Bible and God and church goes. It’s hard when you’re on a trip and the boys on the trip with him are going off and they’re like ‘Raaar, hey Christian.’ That way it’s hard, but at the same time, there’re a lot of rewards. You get to have meaningful, real conversations with people.”


That’s why C.T. is C.T. He’s trying to be a moral guy in an immoral surfing world filled with all the vices enjoyed by rock stars. The surfing world he loves so much can also be ruthless out of its sheer dog-eat-dog mentality and the fight for waves in crowded conditions-he even admits to yelling out of frustration when he’s in the lineup: “Surfing is a really selfish sport. You’re out there trying to get your waves-it’s not a team thing. Sometimes it’s really tough surfing Trestles with 50 guys. It’s totally frustrating and a lot of times I blow up and don’t act the way I should.” For the average person, Carlton’s life would be a nonstop circus. In addition to his surfing and religious devotion, he’s now learning to shape surfboards and build race cars. A budding mechanic for nearly six years, oil definitely runs thick in his blood. Not only did his father build and race circle-track cars, but hhis stepfather is a recreational drag racer who restores Corvettes. C.T.’s pride and joy is a 1972 Chevy Vega with a 350-cubic-inch small-block Chevy V-8, and a nine-inch Ford rear end with 355 gears-he can hang with car talk that kicks your ass. He’s also now working at R.J.’s Race Cars in El Cajon, California-a job he prayed to work at for three years and eventually got hired after befriending the owner. He now finds himself good buddies with the owner, doing everything from sweeping floors to learning how to build a car from the floor up.

As for shaping, he’s already up to his fortieth board after starting only three years ago. He learns from tutors, pretty much every shaper who’s ever made him a board: “I’d actually go in and check out what they were doing because I was really into it and really appreciated the craft. A lot of guys don’t even know about their boards. I think everyone should at least shape one board and appreciate what their shaper does for them. “A couple of shapers he accredits highly are Steve Seabold, who gave him his start and Cordell Miller: “I’ve been surfing for him for a number of years and have watched him make me boards-his boards are magic. They’re really different, but they’re really good.” What he’ll conquer, or better yet, what lies ahead, is anyone’s guess. But one thing’s for sure-if C.T.’s going to succeed amidst the swirling chaos of his life, he needs to keep his focus.