One of the biggest stories heading into this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the driver line-up for Wayne Taylor Racing. It consists of veteran racer “Max The Ax” Angelelli, Taylor’s sons Ricky and Jordan Taylor, and now Wayne Taylor himself has come out of retirement just to join the team. We know that racing is often a family affair with brothers racing together or even against each other, but father/son teams are rare, especially at this level of racing. Angelelli and Jordan Taylor secured the DP Driver Championship in 2013, capping off a season with five victories, three poles and six podiums. The combination of experience and youthful vigor proved to be a potent combination for Wayne Taylor Racing. Now that Ricky Taylor has rejoined the fold after a season racing with Richard Westbrook in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, the team that was always a force to be reckoned with has become even more formidable.
Racing is expensive and statistics indicate which drivers didn’t work for their coveted seats, but that’s not the case with Ricky and Jordan Taylor. They’ve worked hard and have proven that they’re just that good, many times over. During his time in the co-driver seat with Max Angelelli, Ricky won seven races and no less than ten pole positions finishing the 2010 and 2011 Rolex Series Championship in 2010 and 2011 in the runner-up position. Last year, he was seventh in the DP Driver Championship standings however, one of his big achievements was racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Larbre Competition’s Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal in the #50 Corvette C6.R. Not to be outdone but younger brother, Jordan, has also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans with Corvette Racing.
In 2013, the Taylor brothers were making headlines in the sports world not only for their talent behind the wheel, but hilarious performance in front of the camera. Their homemade viral videos and exploits on social media have made them media darlings, but don’t let the pranks and playfulness fool you. These guys know when to flip the switch on the racetrack, displaying with a level of ferocity, finesse and maturity that’s beyond their years. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for these guys but first things first – the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The brothers took time out from their über-busy schedule to chat with us about their start in racing, why they will be the team to beat in this year’s inaugural Tudor United Sports Car Championship (TUSCC) and among other things, their plan for the future besides internet domination, of course.
MLAS: Let’s start with social media. Did you guys have any idea the music videos would take off the way they did?
Ricky: I definitely didn’t! I think we first did the music videos just for fun, just a kind of do what we could do. Get a couple friends out and make some fun videos. One thing led to another and then all of a sudden we’re making one for Continental and that was really cool. Then we ended up doing that one in Kansas.
Jordan: No, I don’t think so. We did it just for fun, just with a few friends at first, you know. We were making fun of ourselves in the video and such just having a good time. It was this time last year that we sent it out and during the race they were talking about it on the TV. So it was definitely way bigger than we thought it would be and it kind of changed our (perceived) personalities a little bit I think, to everyone, to the fans I guess but I think it was good in the end. I mean I think it’s good when you can make fun of yourself in front of everybody else and not take yourself seriously.
MLAS: Was it ever hard to find willing participants for your vines and videos?
Jordan: I think our first group was me, Ricky, our friend Mark Jensen and Spencer Pigot. I think I was the only one willing to do the weird stuff at first. The other guys did it but they were more nervous that if they didn’t really get a good reaction, it would make themselves look bad; but I think after we got through the first one, everyone was excited to be in it the second time and more and more people were wanting to be in the videos and by the third one, we had guys like Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in it, like really respected race car drivers. So it was funny in the end.
Ricky: Some people were willing to do all the things and then even some of the regulars, they wouldn’t do some of our ideas just because they’re a little bit weird. For the most part, we would ask them to be in them. Like Ryan Eversley was in one and the 99 drivers were in them as well. It was kind of cool to have guest appearances in our videos so I hope if we do another one we can get some new people, some new faces in it. That’s always fun to see the goofy side of our paddock.
MLAS: Yeah because sports car racing is not ever associated with anything remotely goofy.
Ricky: (laughing) Yeah, definitely! It’s amazing how some funny and goofy the people really are and they never get an arena to show it. So it was a fun opportunity especially the 99 guys because we hardly ever see them at the track ‘cause they’re always hiding away in that trailer. It was really fun and they came up with a lot of ideas and stuff but it was cool.
MLAS: How do you plan it out? This is just looking at it from a production aspect. I mean do you guys sit down with story boards or is it totally improv?
Ricky: (laughing) Well for the first one we really liked the song and we figured, let’s make a funny music video about Marky Mark because Mark Wahlberg movies don’t suit the song and you don’t really think about him as a rapper, and you don’t think of us as rappers. So we figured that it would be kind of a funny idea to make a music video out of it, and it was Jordan’s idea to start off with. We all sat around the table and didn’t structure it out very well but as we went along, we got more organized. For the first one we thought of funny ideas and made sort of a parody out of it. We just threw out ideas and just went with it [from] a big brainstorm.
MLAS: The first one I saw was Intergalactic – GRAND-AM Style and I love the Beastie Boys.
Ricky: (laughing) Ye s that was a fun one! For that one, we were thinking of what song we could do and we were originally thinking Brass Monkey and then we saw Intergalactic and we figured it would be fun to do like robots and then the chemical suits in the common area in the music video? To remake some of those things is part of the fun in that one.
MLAS: I like the nicknames that you guys have especially Spencer’s Sinista Jab. Do you guys call yourselves by those names regularly or was it just for the videos?
Jordan: No, I think mine is the only one that stuck which is Jordy Tee-Sheets. A few guys on the team still call me that and a few fans. I’ll be walking around the track and somebody will yell out for Jordy Tee-Sheets. It’s pretty funny. They were more of just a joke but they still tend to get remembered by a few people.
MLAS: I think it’s something that kind of sticks depending on how many times you’ve watched the videos because I can’t look at Eversley now and not think he’s El Diablo.
Jordan: (laughing) Yeah.
MLAS: During racing coverage on TV last year, a photo was shown of you both in the paddock when you were quite young. When did you realize that racing cars was something you wanted to do?
Ricky: Actually when we first started off in Go Karts, it was not very serious. It was just a hobby that we would do, you know, every couple of weekends, and we shared a Go Kart. I played soccer. Jordan played hockey and tennis. So it was just sort of like another one of those things starting off and a way for my Dad to get us out of the house and stop watching TV. Then when he retired for the first time from driving in 2003, he was able to spend more time with us at the track and sort of show us what racing really was. From that point on we kind of fell in love with it and decided that’s what we wanted to do – to race cars. Then three years later we were into cars at Skip Barber and that’s when it started getting really serious.
Jordan: It was kind of a late start to quite a few other people [who] started in Go Karts when they’re really young. I mean we started young but we only started to take it seriously kind of in our early teenage years.
MLAS: Race tracks have been always been a part of your lives. Which is your race favorite track and why?
Ricky: I’ve got two. I’ve got Le Mans just because it’s such a big race and special race for me and my family. It’s also a very difficult, challenging track and has a lot of history. My favorite track here in America is Watkins Glen for a lot of the same reasons. It’s very old, very historical and a very famous start of the race there when we used to go. It’s also very fast and it’s built with that old-school mentality where fuel isn’t necessarily on my mind. It’s very fast and if you make a mistake, you tend to pay for it but you just feel like [it’s] a proper racetrack.
Jordan: I think all the big events are always my favorite so I think Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. Just because of the events that go with the track and the history of the tracks. I think this is maybe the fifty-something anniversary for Daytona and Le Mans is in the eighties, and Sebring is old as well. It’s cool to go to the tracks and remember the history of all the great drivers that were there and great cars. It’s cool to be on the same exact track as your heroes.
MLAS: Which drivers in particular you admired or idolized growing up?
Ricky: I’ve always admired my Dad and Max, ‘cause I grew up with Max as well like a big brother. My all-time favorite driver of any series was Senna. I think he’s a lot of people’s favorites just for his passion and talent and speed and everything, and how hard he worked. It’s just something that I think anybody can look up to in any business or sport or anything. He’s a good role model and he’s somebody I always saw as my biggest model that I would like to base myself on.
Jordan: I think it for me was always guys that were my Dad’s teammates so like Max was always a hero and my Dad was a hero. Guys like Eric van de Poele and Emmanuel Collard. So I didn’t look outside of my Dad’s team really. They were looked at as the enemy so it was probably a different kind of view as most young drivers who don’t have a family member in it. So it’s only somebody associated with my Dad that I would look up to.
MLAS: Not many drivers have raced with their brothers as teammates and even fewer have done so with their fathers, especially in prestigious races like the Rolex 24 and in some cases the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What are the advantages of being teammates with your father and brother?
Ricky: Well we all know each other very well and obviously we’re very close. We have a special relationship as opposed to a normal teammate. But in sports car racing, one of the biggest trends is fighting against each other and wanting to be quicker than the other guy. Oftentimes I think that you take your eye off the ball a little bit and sometime it gets to be a little bit hurtful towards others, also the team; and I think with us there’s not going to be any competition and we trust each other. I look at Jordan’s career. He looks at my career and we both want each other to have a long career in racing and make a living, so we’re not going to do anything to get in each other’s way or you know, prove that one’s better than the other. So I think the biggest advantage for us is just that we all have the same focus and we can all (concentrate) on winning races and doing everything as a team.
Jordan: There’re a lot of egos in racing and I think you always want to beat your teammate. You sometimes get caught up in just trying to beat your teammate rather than working as a team and moving forward. So I think being with family you can take egos out of it and everything. You’re not just trying to beat your brother or beat your Dad. You’re trying to win the race together. I think from that point of view it’s a lot better where we don’t have to worry about beating each other. We’ll just focus on the bigger picture and working to get the car faster and get everyone to work together for their wins.
MLAS: After the Rolex, I’m sure you’ll be able to speak better about what it’s like to race with your family, and that brings us now to the new car. How much of a departure is the new Daytona Prototype (DP) from the previous model?
Ricky: It’s very different and the last time my Dad drove a DP it was 2008, when he last started properly; and the car now from then is super-different even from last year. The brake points are totally different. The cornering speed is much, much higher especially on the high-speed corners with the downforce that we have; and then it’s just the way that the cars interact with each other on the track. When you’re racing with other cars around you, the car handles quite a bit differently. We have more power, set controls are really nice, paddle shift is nice.
Four days of testing just focusing on maximizing on those new areas and trying to get the most out of it so that we could do normal things like going fast on the racetrack, and then we’ll really know the set up and things like that. Trying to perfect traction control and paddle shift and everything like that because I don’t think calibration will be really too hard on all those little details.
MLAS: Are you still on a learning curve with the new car or are you just ready to go?
Jordan: Yeah, I think for the most we’re ready to go but there are always going to be little things that we’re going to figure out as we get more experience with it. The biggest thing is probably the new brakes, the extra downforce and more power, when we go to more races throughout the year. Daytona is a low downforce track so it’s not a big difference from what we had last year but we were able to put all the extra downforce we have this year on the car, so it’s going to be a new learning curve after Daytona. We’re used to that and it’s going to be a bit of a new driving style for all of us and the racing is going to be a lot different as well. It’s going to be racing against different types of cars, LMP2’s now. So we’ve learned most of the driving part of it already and I’m getting used to that side of it, but then the racing is going to be something all new, when the green flag flies at Daytona.
MLAS: You guys tested a couple times in Daytona but to start with a 24-hour race? That car is going to be under so much pressure, and what people have to be reminded of is that in multi-class racing everybody’s out there on the track at the same time.
Ricky: (laughing in agreement) I think that’s a pretty big point. Traffic this year is going to be more than ever. So many cars and it’s going to be an obstacle and a kind of difficult thing to get through without having damage to the car and having contact with other cars. This year more than last year as we have four classes of cars instead of two, and that raises a lot of other obstacles in that we used to catch a DP car, you needed the straightway speed. And a train of DP’s could go by a train of GT’s, but now we have PC’s, GTLM’s and GTD’s out there all going at different speeds. So while we’re passing a GT, we could also be getting overtaken by a PC at the same time. It’s just there are so many different variables out there and they’re not the only ones looking in their mirror; but it’s just so much stuff can go wrong and it’s so easy to have a run into someone, and your race can be over so quickly. So I think that our number one focus is to keep our nose clean and not touch any of the other cars.
MLAS: Aside from those concerns that you’ll be dealing with throughout this whole season, what are you looking forward to the most at this year’s Rolex 24?
Ricky: I think just being back with the team. For me, I’m excited to be back at Wayne Taylor Racing – my Dad, brother and Max. I think I’ve really missed being at the garage and got back with them and you know, it’s kind of like I never really left. I have a really good relationship with everybody and it’s just a really good environment there; and the guys are all really, really good at what they do. We’ll have a good car and I’m just looking forward to working with everybody again.
Jordan: It’s probably always been probably my biggest race of the year because I was always going to watch it [and] watch my Dad race, probably in 1994 when I was three years old. It was always our home race because we’re only forty-five minutes away from the track. I did my first 24-hour there in 2008 so I think this’ll be like my seventh one doing it. It’s like a home race but it’s also a huge event that everyone wants to win.
MLAS: Since you’ve both done the Rolex 24 and 24 Hours of Le Mans before, which race is left on your professional bucket list?
Jordan: I’d probably say the Nürburgring 24 Hour. I’m more into sports car racing than anything else so I’d like to check off all the big ones like that. Maybe Nürburgring 24 Hour and Spa 24 Hour are the two biggest ones.
MLAS: Is there any other kind of racing you might be willing to try?
Ricky: I think a lot of drivers would like to explore open-wheel and pursue a career in open-wheel racing but for me sticking to sports cars is enough, focusing on my career here in America and figure in racing at Le Mans in coming years. I would explore everything in sports car racing with Le Mans in the top category. That would be a definite goal of mine.
Jordan: Yeah, I’d definitely be willing to try other things like IndyCar or NASCAR, but I think right now I’ve got a good career going in sports car racing, so if a good opportunity came up in something else I’d give it a try but right now, my focus is on sports car racing.
MLAS: You guys spend a lot of time together. Probably way more than most teammates would, so it begs the question – what is it about your brother that drives you crazy?
Ricky: That’s a good question. (laughing) Quite a bit! He’s always got his phone and you can never relax around him, cause the second that you relax, he’s going to be hiding behind the corner or something, and going to scare you or something weird and crazy. But he kinda drives me crazy when he’s scaring people. I’m scared he’s going to give my Dad a heart attack one of these days but it’s all fun. We actually get along really well and we never really fight but it’s just a lot of little things that get under my skin.
Jordan: There’s a lot of stuff that drives me crazy about him about him! (laughing) I mean sometimes the way he chews is too loud and if it’s a really quiet room, he breathes through his nose really heavily and he gets really loud. I don’t know, I get bothered by the small things so I could find a lot of little things that bother me about him but I think overall, if you spend that much time with anybody you’re going to find something.
MLAS: Typical brother stuff, right?
Ricky: Yeah, typical! (laughing)
A Final Word
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