DC chats with Wayne Taylor: SunTrust on fire

DC chats with Wayne Taylor: SunTrust on fire

SUNTRUST ON FIRE "Born under a bad sign I've been down since I began to crawl If it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all." "Bad luck and troubles have been my only friend, I've been down ever since I was 10." "Born Under A Bad...


SUNTRUST ON FIRE

"Born under a bad sign I've been down since I began to crawl If it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all."

"Bad luck and troubles have been my only friend, I've been down ever since I was 10."

"Born Under A Bad Sign," written by Booker T. Jones and William Bell but best known for how Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce performed it as "Cream," seems eerily accurate, right down to the "10," insofar as Wayne Taylor Racing's No. 10 SunTrust 2008 season is concerned.

#10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara: Max Angelelli, Michael Valiante.
Photo by Bob Heathcote.

After racing to a fifth-place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona (with its No. 9 Toshiba sister car finishing third), the SunTrust team for the following three races was on the downside - compiling 14th, 18th and 17th-place finishes after wrecking or being wrecked in each - until this past weekend's 8th-place finish in the Rolex Series' RumBum 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Indeed, despite yet another run-in with Rolex Series officials, the SunTrust team left California's Monterey Peninsula on a relative high note after driver Michael Valiante led the race for nine laps and the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac-Dallara exited the event in one piece.

Then on Monday afternoon the news came: heading home and about an hour east of Amarillo the SunTrust transporter had caught fire and its contents destroyed as SunTrust team members and transporter drivers Larry Harmon and Buddy Johnson helplessly looked on in helpless, total disbelief.

The blaze's cause still remains undetermined as of this writing. On the other hand, and determined without a doubt, is the damage's extent.

"It's completely gone; everything," Wayne Taylor said late Tuesday, adding that the SunTrust transporter had "literally burned to the ground."

"So many things were inside of it, I can't imagine there is anyway anyone will ever know the true extent of the damage," he lamented.

Like a machine gun's staccato rhythm, Taylor then fired off a litany of the necessities - from the obvious to not so obvious - lost in the blaze.

Lost were laptop computers (with years of data) and spare body parts; screwdrivers and wrenches; the wheels on which tires are mounted and, even, an office copying machine.

"The only thing (spared) was a Dallara frame, and it's back at the shop in Indy. Everything we had for an entire racing season was on that truck, and it's all gone. Everything we possibly could need to run a race, repair or replace other parts was on that trailer; everything for the entire season."

"This all has been so devastating," Taylor said, emotion choking his words.

#10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara: Max Angelelli, Michael Valiante.
Photo by Bob Heathcote.

Still emotional, Taylor started relating the hundreds of telephone calls, e-mails and text messages he'd gotten since word had started spreading the previous day.

"People have offered cars, parts, transporters, whatever we need," he said. "I've gotten calls from Bob Stallings, Bill Riley, Kevin Doran, Mike Shank, Gene Sigal. Timmy Keene at Chip Ganassi Racing (in Indianapolis) has just been utterly phenomenal with his help."

"It's just so remarkable that every one of these people would do all they can to beat us on the track and yet do everything they can to get us back on it."

"Jim France and the SunTrust people have been on the telephone throughout the day with me, asking and doing what they can to help. Their just being there for us has been utterly incredible and comforting."

Again fighting to express words that his brain wished to convey but at which his voice balked, "It's just remarkable, this Grand-Am community - competitors and fans, alike - how they've rallied to my aid. I just don't think there is any other racing community like it anywhere. I've certainly not encountered anything like it before in all my decades of racing."

"I'm just so proud to be among them and have friends who've gone well beyond being only my competitors."

With SunTrust team members and Dallara representatives already traveling as swiftly as possible to many places faraway and near to the team's Indy shop, Taylor is orchestrating nothing less than Mozart-like score in an effort to reassemble all that was lost so that the team can carry on.

"At this point, honestly I'm not sure just exactly how we'll put it all together," Taylor said, "But the SunTrust team will be fielding a car (June 7) at The Glen. That I will tell you."

"I've got a long night ahead of me for many reasons, not the least of which is beginning to somehow start answering each and every piece of e-mail I've gotten from the hundreds of people who've sent them."

"I'm so very grateful."

Later (at The Glen, Wayne).
    DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am
Drivers Wayne Taylor , Michael Valiante , Max Angelelli , Chip Ganassi , Gene Sigal , Bob Stallings , Bob Heath , Eric Clapton
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing , Wayne Taylor Racing