What do Nelson Mandela, Gary Player and Wayne Taylor have in common?
At first glance, a revolutionary political leader, a nine-time major golf champion and a wildly successful IMSA driver and team owner may not offer up many similarities beyond significant accomplishments in their respective fields, but this Sunday Taylor joins the other two, and other previously enshrined inductees, into the South African Hall of Fame.
Taylor’s accomplishments, honors and victories as an IMSA driver and team owner will be celebrated Sunday as the Hall’s sole 2019 inductee.
The South African Hall of Fame was established in 2016 to enshrine forever those natives of the country who have accomplished greatness in sports, entertainment and in one special case, politics.
During his racing career, Taylor was a three-time IMSA champion and won 21 races. As a team owner, he has added 30 victories, with two Rolex 24 At Daytona wins, including last month, two Motul Petit Le Mans victories and a win at Sebring.
Those are Hall of Fame worthy credentials, and in fact, Taylor also was inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame back in 2014. He’s one of 56 inductees since that Hall of Fame was formed in 2002.
“As you know, I was inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame, which I could understand, because it was racing, and maybe the results,” Taylor said.
“But to be inducted into the entire South African Hall of Fame is pretty overwhelming and almost intimidating, to be honest, because when I asked them who’s been inducted in the past, they talked about Jody Scheckter, Nelson Mandela and Gary Player.
“And then when I asked how many people were being inducted on the same evening, they said only me. Then, the guy said, ‘This is a real big deal.’”
Such a big deal, that Taylor struggles to even fathom what it means.
“Quite honestly, for the first time, I don’t have the words to describe this, and I know I’m going to have to stand up on stage,” he said. “Normally, I can stand anywhere and talk about racing, but this is bigger than anything else that I’ve ever got.
“Obviously, South Africa was my roots, although I’m now living in America. I’ve been told there’s about 300 people coming to this function, which will be held at Sun City, which is about 90 miles north of Johannesburg. It’s a spectacular place.”
Among the attendees will be his wife, Shelly, as well as his sons Ricky and Jordan, and several others.
“I’ve got my parents and family flying in from all over the country,” Wayne said. “I’ve even got one of my mechanics that ran my car when I won the South African championships in 1986, so I haven’t seen him for almost 30 years. He’s coming. There are a lot of people putting in a lot of effort to be there.”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony comes less than a month after Taylor’s team won its second Rolex 24 with co-drivers Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande, Kamui Kobayashi and two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Taylor will be the fourth racing driver – joining 1984 Rolex 24 winner Sarel van der Merwe and F1 racers Ian Scheckter and Jody Scheckter – to be inducted into the South African Hall of Fame.
He’s the fifth motorsports personality, alongside the three previously mentioned drivers and F1 car designer Rory Byrne.
The induction ceremony will be emceed by Graham Duxbury, who was one of van der Merwe’s co-drivers in that 1984 Rolex 24 victory.
It will include a four-minute video chronicling Taylor’s racing career, as well as remarks from both Jordan and Ricky.