Running alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend was the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, allowing Long Beach fans to see the skills of brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, who won their second consecutive Grand Prix of Long Beach in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing. Their team is currently third in the championship standings, and IndyCar Examiner spoke to both Jordan and Ricky to find out what makes them so good.
The No. 10 truly is a family affair, as their father Wayne Taylor is the team owner, and both brothers told us that racing is the engine that has driven the Taylor household since they were young. “I guess I’m unique that I grew up in this sport around my dad,” Jordan explained. “He drove in sportscars his whole life and his whole career so that’s all I grew up watching.
“Obviously I watch NASCAR and Formula 1 and IndyCar, but sports car was always the goal,” he continued. “Once I kind of made it at a professional level, I’m making a career out of it and I’m happy to stay here. Winning championships and winning races is the goal to keep going on.”
The subject is even central to their lives off the track. “We’re a pretty boring family, all we talk about is racing,” laughed Ricky. “That’s all we really know. The racetrack is probably the calmest you’ll ever see my dad. And that’s just because he works so much at home that when we get to the track and it’s time to go racing and be competitive, that’s when you get to release all your tension and just get to go for it.”
“It’s racing all the time,” Jordan agreed. “I’m sure my mom gets sick of it all the time, but it’s what we really love to do. It’s all we focus on. Our house has racing pictures all over it and all of our friends are racing-related!”
You can’t argue with their formula because it works. Wayne Taylor Racing can claim some impressive accomplishments. 2016 was the third time that the No. 10 finished as the runner-up at the Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race, even though their car was literally dying in the final laps. It didn’t go so well at Sebring, but they clearly rebounded on Saturday by earning back-to-back victories at Long Beach.
Sportscar racing differs from a league like IndyCar or NASCAR in that it’s a team sport. More than one driver has the fate of the team on his shoulders, and sometimes that means working literally through the night at day-long endurance races like Daytona or the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. What’s it like to push yourselves through an entire day of racing? Jordan explained.
“It’s tough,” he conceded. “Thankfully you’re allowed to have three drivers, so you’ll do between two and three hour stints [driving] and you rotate. You’re okay for the first ten hours but once you get to 3, 4 a.m. and having to wake up after getting an hour of sleep and getting into the car, it becomes mentally and physically challenging. By the time you get to the 20th hour, you’re just running on adrenaline and trying to get to the finish.”
Most IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events aren’t that long, and Ricky told us he was excited about getting back to the shorter kind of racing ahead of them. “The first couple races are so spread out that it’s nice to get into the rhythm of the season,” he said. “The summer’s really busy and we get all our sprint races out of the way before the big race at the end [September’s ten-hour Petit Le Mans].
“It’s nice to get out of the endurance racing mindset and get into the sprint race mindset,” he continued, “where you can go racing and not have to worry about damaging things.That’s always nice.”
Having multiple drivers and of course an extensive crew means that the Taylors don’t look at their success on the racetrack as singular results like in other motorsports series. “Sportscar racing is all about the team,” Jordan told us. “We do pit stops, we do driver changes, we do tire changes so it’s a complete team effort.
“Especially for 24 hours – we’re doing 30 pit stops, if one of those goes bad you’re done,” he explained. “If one of those guys spinning a tire makes a mistake you’re out of it. The driver gets a lot of the recognition because you’re in front of the cameras, but what goes on behind the scenes is really what’s getting it done.”
It’s not hard to see what’s made these two a permanent fixture in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Racing is literally in their blood, but they’re not just on track because of the family name. They’re two exceptionally talented drivers who also have the right mindset and the proper personalities to be elite drivers. They have skill, but they’re not using it without also using their heads. They’re not out for themselves; they’re here for the team, and they know what they have to do to get the team to a 2016 championship.
“We’ve got eight or nine races to go,” Jordan concluded. “We just have to stay consistent, trying to get podiums and keep up with the points battle.”
The Taylor brothers will try to make it two in a row for the No. 10 at the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Race weekend begins Friday, Apr. 29; tickets and full information are available here.
For more information on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, visit the league’s website.