While known primarily for its success in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s DPi class, Wayne Taylor Racing has also been making a name for itself as a leading team for driver development, particularly in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America.
The operation, under the Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing umbrella, has run a stable of championship-winning cars and drivers in the single-make series for over half a decade.
Since its inception in 2015, the team has clinched seven North American Pro driver, team and dealer championship titles, fielded the first woman World Finals race winner and became the overall Lamborghini World Final champion in 2017.
The program has grown into interim classes like the WeatherTech Championship GTD class, as it evolves to encompass a greater variety of skill and experience levels.
“It became evident that in order to be competitive in the DPi, we could not purely run the program on support from sponsors and the manufacturer”” said team owner Wayne Taylor.
“When the Lamborghini North America series came to fruition, we ran the numbers and it looked like a good opportunity.
“It’s really grown and opened other doors for us, bringing new members into our family that contribute to our success at all levels. The series is a stepping stone for both drivers and businesses to capitalize on motorsports through WTR’s channels of influence.”
Compared to other GT programs in the sport, WTR is unique in that the majority of Super Trofeo mechanics and personnel are full-time employees.
That advantage has enabled the team to expand into other classes in IMSA competition, including its recent GTD Pro class effort at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, where WTR Lamborghini Super Trofeo drivers piloted the No. 93 Harrison Contracting Company Acura NSX Evo22 as part of a joint effort with Racers Edge Motorsports.
Ashton Harrison has been a prime example of what the program is intended to achieve.
Harrison started with WTR in the entry level LB Cup class in 2019. That year, she became the first female to win a Lamborghini World Finals race before transitioning to co-driving in the Pro-Am class in 2020.
In 2021, Harrison contested the Am class as a solo entry and added three more class wins and nine additional class podiums. She currently tops the Pro-Am standings with co-driver Tom Long this year.
To further support her driver development, WTR introduced her to the HPD Academy where, as a graduate, Harrison has continued to develop in other classes of racing while shadowing the WTR Acura DPi program.
In addition to her full-season Super Trofeo commitments with WTR, Harrison has a full-season ride in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS series with Racers Edge.
“Ashton is one of the first drivers that we’re moving through the ranks,” said WTR Vice President and General Manager Travis Houge.
“She’s touched on everything within our program. And so has her sponsor, Harrison Contracting Company. They have learned the ropes in Lamborghini alongside her and evolved to support our DPi program.
“Now, they are winning on the track, and through a strong activation program that began last year, they are also winning in the board rooms. Their focus is on using motorsports as a platform for client entertainment as well as B2B connections.”
Harrison said she’s grateful for the support that WTR provides in all aspects of her career.
“Wayne Taylor Racing has allowed me to see other avenues,” she said. “Our goal is to be partnered with a manufacturer that really believes in a program.
“This team is a big family. We all want success. Wayne Taylor Racing is always giving me support.
“Even when I go to other teams, WTR helps me with contracts and deals. They’re helping me with communication, introducing me to the right people and helping me plug into where I should be. All the steps we’ve made together have paid off.”
Harrison is not the only driver benefitting from the driver development program. As the scope of the initiative has grown, talented young drivers with diverse experience like Jordan Missig have also come on board.
Missig is competing in his second Super Trofeo season with WTR. With two class wins under his belt already, he’s contesting both sports car and open-wheel championships, adding a full-season Indy Pro 2000 ride to his slate this year.
The 23-year-old was a runner-up in the Radical Cup North America in 2019 and is a race winner in the Formula Regional Americas Championship powered by Honda.
“Jordan Missig is a young up-and-coming driver that joined us last year,” said Houge. “He has the same goals and aspirations as our more experienced pro drivers.
“Over time, the driver development program has evolved to encompass more than just going out and winning races, which, first and foremost, is what is in our DNA.
“That’s what Wayne Taylor is all about. We want to go win. But we also need to be able to develop the drivers so that our next generation of sports car pilots can move up and find their home in the IMSA paddock.”
A key aspect of the development strategy is teamwork and the sharing of information. The team uses that fluidity as a tool to teach drivers.
“Wayne Taylor Racing has done a phenomenal job through driver development to make me the driver that I am today,” said Missig. “Coaching through the No. 1 team and understanding how [Kyle Marcelli and Danny Formal] drive their car has been extremely beneficial.
“I hit the ground running with this team because they’re very quick and excellent coaches. This program is top-notch for any driver who wants to get into it. They can show you the ropes. They have good insight, analytics and guidance on where to go with the next path in your career and they want to see you succeed.”
Wayne Taylor added: “When the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and DPi events are the same weekend, there can be exchange between both sides.
“You’ve suddenly got more hands than you would if it were a single DPi effort or a separate event because the Lamborghini guys peel over and help the prototype car.
“Then, in early part of the weekend, some of the Acura guys help the guys in the Lamborghini. A multidisciplinary team creates a really a good foundation for any young driver to ask questions and learn.”
Veteran drivers, such as Kyle Marcelli, Tom Long and Danny Formal, have also benefited from the crossover between programs.
“This organization, in my opinion, is one of a handful of teams that are operating at the pinnacle of the sport and set the benchmark on track and off track, from performance, to organization, to sponsor activations and the whole business model of motorsports,” said Marcelli.
“Wayne Taylor gets that there’s an opportunity here to bring customers in the door that have an interest for the sport, develop their craft through the various categories of Lamborghini Super Trofeo and then ultimately work their way into a GT3 car and hit those highlight events—the Daytona 24, the Sebring 12 and Petit Le Mans.”