They are not as famous like the Andrettis or the Earnhardts or the Unsers. Either way, their name is not easily trademarked. But the Taylors, the first family of the International Motor Sports Association, are America’s closest thing to sports car racing royalty. And right now it’s young Prince Ricky who brings them great IMSA glory [fig.1].
Ricky is the quietest. He would make a great action movie assassin. His younger brother, Jordan, is loud, a jort-wearing counterpoint to Ricky, and was recently featured in Sports Illustrated. Ricky is already a championship-winning driver for the Acura factory prototype team.
Jordan was a mainstay on Corvette Racing’s factory IMSA GT team. Wayne, their brooding father, can claim to pass on the best of his racing genes, while everyone in the family credits Shelley, their dynamic mother, as the source of all the light in the sons. The family business is Wayne Taylor Racing, which campaigns for Acuras in IMSA with Ricky as the lead driver.
Wayne rode through IMSA’s analog Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class in the ’80s and ’90s. Master of pole position with his raw speed and bravery, Wayne gave fits to giant factory teams. He and Shelley immigrated to the United States from South Africa and raised their boys in Florida. They grew up in his paternal shadow at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12-hour party at Sebring, watching and waiting their turn.
“When my dad was racing in GTP, it was a real golden era, and I think that’s where we’re heading with all these iconic car companies that are committed to racing each other,” Ricky says. “It’s like a list of dream makers. It’s going to be huge. And “this” is the return of the GTP for 2023, with radical new racing machines featuring digital wizardry and 21st century technology, including hybridization.
“If you’re a tech enthusiast then you’ll love these GTP cars with all the new systems we’ve incorporated,” says Ricky, 33, who has raced most of his life and has 30 wins. “A lot of the prototypes we’ve had recently have been amazing to drive, but maybe they weren’t representative of the evolution of technology in the automotive world at that time.”
Ricky thinks having “more relevant technology” in the cars will be a source of excitement for fans. “We’ll have something in common with owning an electric or hybrid vehicle,” he says, “and we race our own to better develop the road cars they’re inspired by.”
With only Acura and Cadillac in IMSA’s current Daytona Prototype International class, the call to discontinue the DPi in favor of the GTP was easy to heed. The move to hybridization promises to reinvigorate GTP with the requisite use of 40hp energy recovery systems. Manufacturers embraced the new class with enthusiasm and, more importantly, with money.
Along with re-engagements from Acura and Cadillac, the commissioning of major programs from BMW and Porsche has drawn even more brands into the fight. Lamborghini arrives in 2024 and McLaren is expected to join in 2025.
Combined with 640 hp internal combustion engines of all displacements, cylinder numbers and aspiration methods, the creative styling freedom with GTP cars gave each brand the opportunity to distinguish themselves visually. Ricky loves every aspect of the formula change.
“We are now talking in terms of total energy use,” he says. “It’s the fuel in the tank plus the energy that we harvest with the energy harvesting system and how we race for the first time with those two energies combined. It won’t just be ‘Go like the’ anymore. hell’. We’re going to have to think like hell and strategize about how much power to use in a relay, when to use it, how much, when to save. I feel like I’m a rookie again , to learn everything for the first time.
And Ricky has found another way to make GTP hybrid cars accessible to potential IMSA fans. “I was joking with my engineer about how to explain our energy use to the average person,” he says. “So I said, ‘You keep talking about how many kilojoules of energy we use per period. Isn’t a joule something that can also be converted to another unit, like calories? He said yes. So I said, ‘Okay, then, do the math on how many pizzas we’re burning!’ He came back, looking proud, and said, “We’re burning 155 pizzas per shift, medium pizzas.” Now I’m hungry.”
Ricky, already considered by many to be one of the greatest drivers of his generation, will continue to lead his father’s Indianapolis-based team and bring the family name back to where it rose to prominence. Most princes, after all, ultimately want to be king.