Ricky Taylor, then 15, and younger brother Jordan, then 13, watched the 2005 Rolex 24 at Daytona both as sons of an emerging sports car legend and as ardent fans whose own driving careers had yet to begin in full.
They watched with a greater appreciation and understanding of what father Wayne – and his new team, SunTrust Racing (now Wayne Taylor Racing with Konica Minolta) – had achieved in this, his second Rolex 24 win.
Yes, there was the 1996 win where Wayne, Scott Sharp and Jim Pace held off the surging MOMO Ferrari 333SP and a then-unheralded Italian named Max Papis.
But the 2005 win meant more as they understood what it meant when Wayne, Max “The Ax” Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard scored the overall win.
This second time around, it felt so much more real than when they were kids, reminiscing about the pictures from 1996.
“Jordan and I hadn’t started our careers seriously yet,” Ricky Taylor told Sportscar365. “We were watching our idols in Max and my dad, and Emmanuel Collard. That was one of the first races where I got to sit in on a debrief.”
“In 2005, that’s when Ricky and I wanted to get into racing,” Jordan added. “It was more interesting for us. I remember us two and our friend Mark Jensen stayed up the whole race watching, watching live timing & scoring, tracking everything the whole night.”
Now, 10 years later in 2015, driving the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, it could well be Jordan and Ricky’s turn – finally – to emulate their dad’s achievement.
They’ll have the chance to do it with Angelelli, as just the “core three” Taylor drivers are together on their own for the first time. Others such as Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe have been on board in the past, but in one-off roles.
Ricky and Jordan each joined their father’s team at different times. Neither joined as the finished article, with Ricky fast but inconsistent in his first stint with the team, and Jordan adapting to the Daytona Prototype after starting in GT machinery.
The improved chemistry and maturation is evident between the three of them at this point in their careers.
“We didn’t use to, but now the team and driver sides get along so well,” Ricky said. “In past years we had bickered about setup, but now we’ve come together and we want the same thing.
“Usually there’s compromise, but I don’t feel like we are compromising anything between the three of us.”
While Ricky described the improved team chemistry, Jordan described the team’s development process on the Corvette DP, even though he joked “I’m not the technical guy.”
“This year we come in with a bit more familiarity, and we ended last year so strong with the win at Petit,” Jordan said.
“Last year it was more or less a new car and we developed it. Honestly, we were behind the other guys. But by the end of the year, we found the setup a bit better. We’re not only strong with driver lineup, the car itself.”
It’s that improved confidence, car and engine development that gives the Taylors arguably their best shot yet to score WTR’s first win in 10 years at the Rolex.
The momentum is there on several fronts. Jordan topped the timesheets at the Roar test; as mentioned, the same trio of Angelelli and the Taylor brothers ended the 2014 season on a high with a win at Petit Le Mans.
Crucially, the team has come second at the Rolex the last two years – they are undoubtedly hoping this is a result doesn’t come in threes.
Wayne, the two-time winner, reflected on the pair of wins he enjoyed and said doing so again now given the level of competition would be a near perfect storyline.
“Winning the Rolex was always something I wanted to do and always wondered, ‘How am I going to make this happen?’” Wayne said.
“When I got it in ’96, I thought, ‘This is incredible.’ To do it again in ’05 with Max and Emmanuel Collard was even more satisfying.
“Then I stopped driving, got into team ownership, and suddenly we’re up to 10 years since I last won. So to have Ricky, Jordan and Max in the car, on the 10-year anniversary, would be something really special.”
Jordan posted a picture on social media in the run up to the Roar of a simple yet powerful motivator – one of his dad’s Rolex watches on the home screen of his phone.
One occasionally forgets how serious he is about the job at hand given some of his social media posts, but make no mistake: this is a driver motivated to start the year off with a bang and take down the Action Express Racing team that won in 2014.
Together with his brother, his dad, and the driving rock that has been a part of so many successes over the years, the opportunity is there for 2015 to be a storybook Rolex for the Taylor family.
As Ricky surmised, “To think we could repeat that feat 10 years later is pretty special.”