Out of the three members of the Taylor family who could vie for an IMSA championship this year, only two can bring bragging rights to the dinner table.
Jordan, the youngest of Wayne and Shelley Taylor’s sons, was the first to reach his WeatherTech SportsCar Championship milestone after clinching the GT Le Mans drivers’ title for Corvette Racing on November 1 in Monterey. And that leaves Wayne, proprietor of the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R team, and his eldest son, Ricky, who leads the DPi standings for Acura Team Penske, in a spirited duel to see who will be celebrating Saturday night at the conclusion of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
With ATP’s Taylor and teammate Helio Castroneves holding a scant two-point lead over WTR’s Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande, the DPi championship showdown is ready to be resolved between father and son.
“There are a lot of reasons for this season to be extra special,” Ricky Taylor told RACER. “A big one for me, just like winning Daytona for Max Angelelli’s last race, is Helio’s last race with Penske, ending a long career here without a championship. To end it with a championship would be unbelievable. He’s finished second by the tiniest margin so many times, that he so deserves a championship, and to finish it off like that would be good. Obviously, me and Jordan winning together in different classes would be an amazing story, and Dad would be happy, I think, either way. And for me, selfishly, getting to add to the Penske statistics is always something that’s super special to any of the Penske drivers. There’s a lot of big reasons why I want to win this championship.”
For the sake of his father’s inner peace, Ricky Taylor can’t wait to get through Sebring and bring the temperature down over at WTR.
“I mean, Dad’s always a stressed-out guy!” he said with a laugh. “He’s got a lot going on and, obviously, he’s got the whole team of people to care for. I thought me going away to Penske was going to relax him a little bit like, ‘OK, Ricky’s fine. He’s on his own, I don’t need to worry about him as much.’ But I think it went the other way, and he’s keeping an eye on me as much as he can. If I’m not fast in one practice session, the sky is falling. He’s a dad and racing against him…I wouldn’t say it was fun. You want to be a team as a family and we’re racing against the best and they’re one of the best teams in the paddock. So in that sense, it’s nice and it’s rewarding, but racing against your family is kind of tough.”
Although unconfirmed, among the worst-kept secrets in the paddock involves Taylor transitioning from ATP back to WTR for 2021 when the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R is replaced by the No. 10 Acura ARX-05. It should ease tensions a bit as all three of the racing Taylors can win championships without it being at the expense of a family member.
And after taking the 2017 IMSA Prototype title as brothers in their father’s car, Ricky says watching Jordan go on to become Corvette Racing’s newest champion has been among the biggest highlights of 2020. In a matter of days, his younger brother might be feeling the same thing.
“It’s a hundred percent pride and I’m super, super proud of him,” Taylor said. “I know what he can do and how great of a driver he is. I tell Helio and all of our Penske drivers that Jordan’s the best teammate I ever had before I came here. I can’t emphasize to people enough how good he is. He has this goofy personality and he’s got the social media stuff, and so I think people discount him as a driver. I know going to Corvette is a lot of pressure; it’s a really big team with a huge following and the Corvette supporters are really cutthroat.
“He had a lot of doubters, I think, from the Corvette community about how strong he’d be replacing somebody as legendary as Jan Magnussen. So to fill those shoes is a huge task, and I think what they all showed this year was the best thing possible. So I’m really, really proud of him. I think a lot of people in the racing community knew how good he was, but going to Corvette and becoming a champion in his first year there was the proof of what he can do.”