Florida Youngster Ricky Taylor Set for Pacific F2000 Debut at Buttonwillow Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (April 25, 2007) -- The Pacific F2000 Championship has established a strong reputation for developing talented young drivers during its...
Florida Youngster Ricky Taylor Set for Pacific F2000 Debut at Buttonwillow
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (April 25, 2007) -- The Pacific F2000 Championship has established a strong reputation for developing talented young drivers during its brief four-year history. This season's field already includes a half-dozen or more talented teenagers, and it was announced today that another promising youngster, 17-year-old Ricky Taylor, from Orlando, Fla., will contest the upcoming pair of races at Buttonwillow Raceway as part of VARA's British Extravaganza race meeting on May 5/6.
Taylor, who recently clinched the Skip Barber Southern Series Championship crown, will drive the Comar Performance team's #96 GS610 Maximum Performance Brake Fluid Van Diemen RF02, owned and raced previously by auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw and accomplished race engineer/driver Peter Hansel.
"I'm really excited about the weekend," says Taylor, who is also supported by SunTrust, Now and Later, Star Port, Arai Helmets and OMP. "I have always wanted to compete in the F2000 championship. It's an extremely competitive series and it provides great value for money. I have to thank Jeremy and Peter for giving me this opportunity to drive with their team."
Taylor earned much success in the karting ranks before graduating into race cars last year. He won a scholarship to compete in the Skip Barber Racing School's Formula Dodge series, and in addition to claiming six wins en route to the Southern Series title, he made an equally impressive debut recently in the BFGoodrich/Barber National Presented by Mazda. Taylor finished sixth in the opening race as part of the Sebring Twelve Hour weekend in Sebring, Fla., then won the second race convincingly from the pole. He currently lies second in the standings, just one point behind the leader, going into another pair of races this coming weekend at Virginia International Raceway.
Taylor's father, Wayne, is a two-time winner of the Rolex 24-hour race at Daytona and owner of the front-running Rolex Grand-Am Series SunTrust Racing team. The elder Taylor is excited about his son's prospects at Buttonwillow in 10 days' time.
"This is a great opportunity for Ricky," he notes. "It will be interesting to see him race with a new car, new team and a new track. I know he is in good hands and I'm sure he'll give a good account of himself."
Car owner Shaw has provided a host of opportunities for talented young American drivers through the Team USA Scholarship program, which he founded in 1990. Former winners include such well-known names as Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Memo Gidley, Buddy Rice and A.J. Allmendinger.
"It was my turn to race at Buttonwillow, but I've been so busy with my work in recent weeks, that I really haven't had time to concentrate on preparing to drive the F2000 car," says Shaw. "Peter and I talked about it and we're thrilled to be able to put someone with as much obvious potential as Ricky in the car."
The Pacific F2000 Championship features modern, purpose-built, single-seat, open-wheel race cars powered by either four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engines or the slightly older, carbureted, 2.0-liter Ford Pinto "National" engines, both of which produce around 160 horsepower. The cars weigh in at just 1,220 lbs, employ "slick" (treadless) Hankook racing tires and are capable of speeds in excess of 140mph.
F2000 represents one of the first rungs on the professional open-wheel auto racing ladder in North America and has provided the launching pad for the careers of many top racers, including Champ Car World Series champions Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy, and Indianapolis 500 winners Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jr.
Inaugural Pacific F2000 champion Brad Jaeger is currently competing in the Indy Pro Series, while the top two drivers in the 2005 championship chase, Mike Forest and J.R. Hildebrand, are plying their trade in this year's Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.