Family Values Puts Wayne Taylor Back In Car
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
This coming weekend, Wayne Taylor will get to live out a dream that is over 20 years in the making and no, it’s not the dream of driving in a unified American sports car racing series. It’s the dream of sharing the wheel of a prototype car with his two sons in America’s most important endurance race.
The wheel that Taylor, 56 years old, will share will be affixed to the steering column of the defending Grand-Am Rolex champion No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Chevrolet Corvette. The two sons are Jordan and Ricky Taylor, ages 22 and 24 respectively.
The race is the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Yep, big deal Taylor said.
“I’m excited about driving with the boys,” the native of South Africa said this week.
At one time, Taylor was a full-time pro driver in sports cars. Drove all the big races – LeMans, Sebring, the Rolex – and did plenty of winning.
Eight years ago, he formed Wayne Taylor Racing and co-drove his car with Max Angelelli. After the 2006 Grand-Am season he began scaling back his driving duties. Beginning in
2008, he limited his driving stints to just the Rolex 24.
In 2012 and ‘13, he got out of the driver’s seat completely. In 2010, oldest son Ricky took
over as Angelelli’s co-driver. Three years later, Ricky moved to the Spirit of Daytona team. Taking his place co-driving with Angelelli was younger brother Jordan.
This year, for the first time, the father and his two sons will be together as pros – Ricky and Jordan driving, and dad owning.
Except this weekend, as pops’ decision to not drive again has succumbed to fatherly emotions: Wayne, his boys and fourth member of the extended Taylor family Angelelli will go Rolex hunting in Daytona.
“I’m really only doing this for the family and the boys and Max and my team and all my partners,” Wayne said. “When I stopped driving full-time back in 2006, I was done with driving and have been ever since. Having said that, I knew that an opportunity to drive with my boys might never come again, so I really had to think hard about it.”
Wayne took some day and night laps in the car during testing and afterward said he had a
good enough time that he wanted to take some stints in the 24.
He admitted, however, that he feels like the fourth most talented driver on his team.
“I’m a little nervous,” Wayne said. “In my career, I always was the guy who was the fastest. Now, I’m the slowest, so it’s weird. My job is to stay out of trouble and stay on the lead lap.
“Having had to drive these cars now compared to when I was driving full-time, I’m inclined to say the boys are better than I ever was. It takes a 110-percent focus because these cars are really difficult, and this has proven to me what they are really made of. Yes, it’s much more difficult, but I’m up to the task.”
While Ricky has driven with his father before, Jordan has not. He calls the opportunity “very, very special”. But, Jordan said, even though they have not teamed up in a prototype in the past, it’s not like they are total strangers.
“When I was young,” Jordan said, “he was always driving, always telling us things, giving us tips, but it was also kind of hard to relate to because I was just a kid. Then, since I’ve been driving, we haven’t seen him in a car for quite a while but he was always offering us advice, telling us what to look for and expect and how to deal with every situation. Over the years, he probably says we didn’t listen much to him, like all parents probably feel about their kids. He even had to play the dad card every once in a while to make sure we paid attention. But we actually paid attention to him all along.”
Jordan Taylor will not be the only member of the team experiencing a “first” this weekend.
The 2014 Rolex 24 will be the first since the announcement last year that Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series would merge and result in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
The DIS track, which encorporates high-bank oval racing with an flat infield road circuit, will be crammed full of cars.
Many of the drivers of those cars will be ALMS vets or newbies whom the WTR team will be unfamiliar.
And the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara will be significantly different from the one which Jordan and Angelelli drove to the 2013 championship. It will have more power (about 50 bhp), better braking and improved cornering capabilities though downforce as specs were updated to make the 2013 Daytona Prototypes closer in performance capabilities with the ALMS P2 cars with which it will share the Prototype designation in the unified series.
Those are the kinds of things older, more experienced Ricky Taylor is thinking of this week.
“My dad will be driving with us, so obviously that’s something very special,” he said. “We’ve all been answering lots of questions about what it’s like driving together. Past that, it’s probably the biggest 24-hour I’ve ever done. I’ve been working on what I always work on and that’s winning the race.
“It’s Daytona, there’s been a merger that’s created this exciting, new series. We have the situation with the team coming off a championship. I think there are a lot of factors going into the race this year that makes it really big and really special. But, bottom line, we’re all here to win a race and we’ll deal with the rest of it after it’s all over.”
Wayne Taylor said he was good with his car and its performance after he drove it in the annual Roar Before the 24 test session in early January.
But, last week, IMSA, the sanctioning body for the merged series, issued new balance of performance specs – specs that took power away from DP ‘Vettes. Changing with the specs was Wayne’s level of nervousness.
“We’re relatively OK with where we are,” he said this week. “I think the regulations as we ran at the Roar were very fair. Now they’ve taken some more power away from us, so we’ll see how we stack up when we hit the track on Thursday. I think this balance of performance thing is going to continue to evolve. If all things are equal, as far as the teams and drivers are concerned, we proved last year that we can not only beat everybody on the track, but we can beat them in the pits, and with strategy, and that will go a long way toward winning this thing this weekend. So the plan is to do it all over again here starting this weekend, showing that championship form this team displayed last year.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgOne Comment