A restless spirit is paying dividends for Jordan Taylor

Motorsport Images

A restless spirit is paying dividends for Jordan Taylor


A restless spirit is paying dividends for Jordan Taylor


Jordan Taylor can’t sit still. Well, he might have the ability, but he doesn’t have the will.

He could easily enjoy life as a championship-winning driver in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship — first partnering with brother Ricky in their father Wayne’s team to take the first championship for Cadillac in the Daytona Prototype international era in 2017 before following it up in 2020-21 with the final GTLM titles for Corvette Racing. But he’s also discovered a love of triathlon; he’s serving as “coach” and reserve driver for the NASCAR Garage 56 Project for the 24 Hours of Le Mans; recently competed in his first NASCAR race subbing for Chase Elliott at COTA; and expanding his social media enterprises.

“Race car drivers, we have a pretty easy life. We have a lot of free time,” he explains of his extracurricular activities, and triathlon in particular. “So we have a lot of time to train. You can train as much as you want to drive the race car but you only need to be so fit to drive the race car. So for me, doing the triathlons, having competitions … it’s another outlet to compete and compare yourself to others. And I would get very bored if I was training just to drive race cars, so I’m also now training to compete in triathlons as a hobby, for fun. It’s fun to schedule events throughout the year and see my progress — if I’m getting faster on the bike, faster on the run and fine-tuning those things.”

Jordan admits he’s always hated running, so running a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking for 112 miles — the total distance of an Ironman triathlon is more than he’ll likely drive the No. 3 GTD PRO Corvette at the upcoming Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach — seems absurd. But he’s found the training process very interesting, especially tracking his progress.

It’s not an altogether different idea than developing a race car, something he’s been doing both with the new Corvette Z06 GT3.R that will make its competition debut next year and NASCAR’s Garage 56 project that will compete at the centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller and Jenson Button will drive the car, with Jordan serving as the reserve driver. The Garage 56 entry for Le Mans is reserved for an “experimental” car that is not competing in one of the regular classes. As such, it has no defined rule set. While the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 started out as a NASCAR Next Gen chassis, the team has been free to make the necessary changes for it to perform well and endure the rigors of a 24-hour race. It’s an experience that Jordan doesn’t usually get in driving today’s race cars.

“These days, our cars are so homologated that there’s no development other than changing springs, changing bars,” he notes. “But you go there and you say, ‘It’s doing this wrong,’ they’ll develop a new part, they’ll go to the wind tunnel and do some CFD. That part for a driver is super fun, because you can see your feedback actually doing something and actually developing a race car. We’ll do a Sebring test, we’ll go to COTA and there’ll be new parts on the car to try. So for me, it’s super interesting to kind of see the engineering behind it as well.”

While Taylor is referred to as the “coach” for the Garage 56 team, he acknowledges that there’s not a lot of coaching to do with this crowd.

“I’m having a ton of fun, honestly, watching and, and hanging out. I mean, I’m definitely not coaching the drivers. I’m definitely more of a consultant role with giving a sports car perspective, especially from the GT side, of what to expect when you get to Le Mans, what we need to look out for. There’s a lot of logic in the dash like slow zones and pit speed limiters and traction control all that stuff that they’re not used to on the Cup side that I can help with. So that part’s been fun.

“That’s another thing — I’ll say we need something new on the dash for the driver to understand, next session out, we’ve got updates to the dash,” Taylor explains, admitting that he’s also learning a lot himself with the project.

“The people on the team side are super professional,” he relates. “It’s interesting to see how a team like Hendrick operates, all the procedures, debriefs, meetings. And then all the drivers are just incredible. Rocky, multiple Le Mans winner; Jenson, former world champion; Jimmie a seven-time Cup champion. So learning from those guys, seeing how they operate, what they focus on a car development is super interesting. And yeah, everyone’s just having a great time. There’s no real pressure for performance from an inner-team battle like there would usually be.”

The Garage 56 project gave Jordan an in with Hendrick, and the team a good look at him. So when they needed someone to fill in for Chase Elliott, out with a broken leg form a snowboarding accident, in the NASCAR Cup race at Circuit of The Americas, he was a logical choice. While he doesn’t have a lot of experience with the Cup car — the Garage 56 car is quickly becoming a different animal than the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 he drove at COTA — he qualified fourth. The race didn’t go the way he wanted (read Kelly Crandall’s story about Jordan “surviving” his first NASCAR race here) but he came away with a respect for the different style of racing than he’s used to in sports cars.

Taylor’s “Chase Elliott impression” at COTA may have been a mixed blessing, but provided him another set of experiences to draw on. Motorsport Images

Jordan is almost as well known through social media as from his on-track prowess. Sometimes as himself, sometimes as racing superfan Rodney Sandstorm (and sometimes his pooch Fonzie takes center stage), he’s become pretty adept at entertaining fans and promoting the sport through his posts. So obviously the next logical step was to create his own Discord group, @Sportscar4Lyfe. He was inspired by a triathlete he followed, and he notes the small community feel of triathletes and sports car racing participants and fans.

“He’s one guy that’s been able to capture a lot of the fan base, and he created a Discord server,” Taylor explains. “I went on it and it’s amazing how much interaction and conversation goes on between the fans and people becoming friends through it and going to triathlon events. And they’re hosting events and meetups and stuff like that. So for me, sports car racing has a ton of amazing, passionate fans and there’s no one place for them to kind of go and have conversations and gossip and talk about rumors; so I created it and it’s gone super well so far.”

He admits to not having a full grasp of how Discord works and what it could do, but fans have been leading him through it. And in only a few weeks of the group’s existence, people are having conversations and arranging meetups at races. At Sebring, Sportscar 4 Lyfe and Jordan hosted a wing-eating contest. He has more plans, such as 5k runs around the tracks or track walks with fans.

“It’s just a way to get more behind the scenes and give the fans kind of what they deserve,” Taylor says. “I think once we start doing more events and word of mouth spreads, we should attract some more. And it’s not just sports cars. I know it’s called Sportscar 4 Lyfe, but we’ve got IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR … everything in the channel for people to follow. Everyone’s friendly on there. We haven’t had any crazy people enter it and cause any mayhem — although I’m sure that’s gonna happen at some point. I think it’s fun. We’ve got simulator stuff, people sharing their online racing. We’ll probably host iRacing series events, have our own little Sportscar 4 Lyfe championship. The options are kind of endless of what we do with it.”

“Endless” seems an apt description for what Jordan is eager to do, both in and out of motorsports, but particularly when he can help grow enthusiasm for sports car racing. There’s no doubt that the Taylor family has made an indelible mark on motorsports, and Wayne Taylor’s youngest son has been a big part of that.