DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Growing up, Father’s Day and the 24 Hours of Le Mans were synonymous for young Ricky and Jordan Taylor. That meant dad – accomplished sports car driver Wayne Taylor – was in France competing in a race traditionally held on Father’s Day weekend.
Since the race meant so much to their father, both brothers decided very early that someday they would follow in his footsteps and drive at Le Mans.
Taylor took his sons to the endurance classic for the first time in 2001, when Ricky was 11 and Jordan 10.
“That was the first time we really celebrated a proper Father’s Day,” Ricky recalled.
This year, the roles are reversed. Ricky, 23, is set to race at Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time, while Jordan, 22, returns for a second year with Corvette Racing. Jordan will co-drive the No. 73 Corvette C6 ZR1 with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the LM GTE Pro class.
Joining the brothers at the event will be their father, who will be in the unfamiliar role of spectator. The winner of the inaugural Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 1998, Taylor’s Le Mans resume includes team leader of the Olive Garden two-car Ferrari prototype lineup and then team leader of the factory Cadillac prototype effort in 2000-02.
“We never saw our dad on Father’s Day our whole lives growing up – he was always racing at Le Mans,” Jordan said. “Racing at Le Mans was pretty much the main goal for Ricky and I for our whole careers. I think it’s cool that Ricky and I are now the ones that are racing, and dad will be there supporting us. It will be a great Father’s Day present for him if we can both be on the podium.”
For 2013, the sons will be racing on Father’s Day weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Saturday’s Diamond Cellar Classic in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Jordan drives his dad’s No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Daytona Prototype.
He is coming off a victory in the most recent race at Detroit Belle Isle, and joins co-driver Max Angelelli atop the DP point standings. Ricky will drive the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP with defending Mid-Ohio winner Richard Westbrook.
Shortly after the checkered flag waves Saturday evening at Mid-Ohio, the rush will be on to get to France. Opening practice and qualifying begin next Wednesday.
The brothers are ready. Jordan finished fifth in GTE Pro at Le Mans last year, also co-driving with Magnussen and Garcia. Ricky participated in last weekend’s test session, running his first laps on the famed circuit while having the opportunity to gel with his French-speaking teammates.
Wayne, though, is only there to watch – something he admits to not being very good at. He’s competed 13 times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – winning the Prototype class in 1998 – and helps call the shots for his team atop the pit box in Rolex Series races, but feels somewhat helpless when he’s not wearing a helmet or headphones.
“On one hand, this is going to be very cool to watch,” Wayne said. “But on the other hand – I’m very uncomfortable with it, to be honest, with them competing against each other. At least they are in different classes. But they seem to do a great job with it.”
“Dad is very emotional and takes it very seriously,” Jordan said. “If we’re not doing very well, he’s feeling it just as much as we are in the car. It’s nice we have that support.”
Watching Jordan compete in last year’s classic, Wayne was up all night, making sure his son had everything ready for his next stint.
“Dad really had no job, but he just wanted to make sure he had something to do,” Ricky said. “For this year, I feel as prepared as I can be. Jordan’s been showing me on-board footage and data, and I got to spend quality time with the team – both at and away from the track – over the last two weeks.
“But I think dad is struggling. He just can’t sit still.”