The Racing Capital
of the World
July 24, 2013 | By Bruce Martin
As one of only two GRAND-AM Rolex Series teams based in Indianapolis, Wayne Taylor Racing is ready for a homecoming during the Brickyard Grand Prix on Friday, July 26.
Having a race down the street at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a big deal for team owner Wayne Taylor because it gives him a chance to show off his team and facility.
“All of our corporate partners pride ourselves in building those businesses, and we put a lot of effort into that,” Taylor said. “Every time you have the opportunity to bring sponsors and partners to a race is fantastic. But when you can bring them to a race and visit your race shop all in the same weekend in the same city is even bigger. Now with the Dallara facility in Indianapolis and our relationship with them, we can take our partners to them bring them to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and to our race shop, so it shows all of our partners how all of this works.”
Ironically, Taylor has to travel the farthest as he lives in Orlando, Fla. Most of the top IZOD IndyCar Series teams are based in Indianapolis, and the top NASCAR teams are based in the Charlotte, N.C., area. But the GRAND-AM teams are based throughout the United States.
To Taylor, Indianapolis was the best place for his team for various reasons.
“It was really simple – all the best people were based in Indy, and when I set it up, it was easy for me to find the good people that I have,” Taylor said. “They were already settled there with their families, and the last thing I wanted to do was have my race team where I live in Orlando. To have my race team here would be impossible. I visit the team fairly regular, so it was an easy decision.
“You don’t think of Indianapolis and sports car racing together, but the people I have worked in IndyCar, Formula One and sports car racing. I tried to hire people with good road-racing experience, and you find a lot of those guys in IndyCar. Most of my guys have had experience in that form of racing.”
Taylor’s team isn’t the only prominent local team in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Wayne Taylor Racing both are located in Pike Township – on the city’s northwest side.
The Brickyard Grand Prix provides Taylor with a chance for hometown bragging rights at the world’s most famous racetrack.
“For GRAND-AM and for the sport, in general, Indy is such a big name and such a big event,” Taylor said. “Any time you can compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s really important This Indy weekend combined with NASCAR is really good because it exposes us to a different fan base, and for us it is very special because our team is based in Indianapolis. It is also part of the North American Endurance Championship, being the shortest of all the enduros, but we look forward to this event a lot.”
Taylor’s background in road racing runs very deep, including stints in Europe and the old IMSA Camel GT series in North America. And he is impressed with the road course at IMS, although it is a compromise course that uses the infield and much of the historic oval.
“It is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we run the opposite direction as they do in the Indy 500, but there is so much history here, great place,” Taylor said. “Look at all the great drivers that have raced here and to be on the track with my own team and have both sons racing is very special.”
There is an interesting family dynamic as Taylor’s two sons also compete in GRAND-AM. Jordan drives for his father’s team along with fellow driver Max Angelelli. Another son, Ricky, drives for the Spirit of Daytona team after leaving his father’s team.
“Ricky did his time with us, and now he has gone off and drives for the Spirit of Daytona, and I expect the same to happen with Jordan,” Wayne Taylor said. “I don’t know if the Dad situation has much to do with it other than they probably don’t like me telling them what to do. The most difficult part for me with the two sons is them competing against each other. They are both great kids and love each other, and most people don’t believe this, but they are not competitive with each other. If the one wins, the other is really happy for him.
“The difficulty for me is if one won the race, I feel bad for the one that didn’t because you want your kids to be happy all the time, and only one can win.”
Ricky drove for Wayne Taylor Racing for three years before leaving for the Spirit of Daytona team, creating the opportunity for Jordan to join his father’s team this year.
“Our job is to win every race, and if we can’t win, I want Ricky to win,” Wayne Taylor said. “But the rules on my team is that we win. There is no doubt about it, though, I’m as happy for him winning as I am for my team.”
Angelelli has been on the team the longest, joining Taylor’s operation in 1999.
“He’s just a funny guy,” Wayne Taylor said. “He has become part of our family. We’ve been teammates together him and I, he was teammates with Ricky, and now he is teammates with Jordan. He is part-owner of the team. It’s not often in this sport that two drivers can be together for so long. We drove together for all of those years, and he helped both of my sons tremendously and is a partner in my business. It’s really a special relationship.”
Taylor and Angelelli also serve as an agent for 2012 Indianapolis 500 pole winner and IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Ryan Briscoe, who they brought to the United States as an IndyCar rookie in 2005. The plan is to have Briscoe back in IndyCar as a full-time driver in 2014.
“At the moment, we feel really confident based on our discussions he will be full time in 2014,” Taylor said.
Another important thing that will happen in 2014 will be United SportsCar Racing – the combined efforts of GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series with all the great drivers, teams, cars and tracks all on the same schedule.
“I think it’s fantastic; it’s what sports car racing needed,” Taylor said. “ALMS and GRAND-AM coming together both bring different tools, and there is a lot of that GRAND-AM does well and a lot it doesn’t do well. Same with ALMS. If you bring both together and keep the best pieces, you go racing.
“Overall it’s going to be fantastic. We’ll race at Daytona, Sebring, Petit Le Mans and Indianapolis. There will be an endurance championship with a 24-hour, 12-hour, six-hour, three-hour and 10-hour races. I’m excited about the prospects.”
But before that happens, there is the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard. And he admits a special feeling just getting a chance to compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Just the fact all the drivers that have been there for the Indianapolis 500,” Taylor said. “When I think of sports cars, I think of Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. But when you talk about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you think of all the great drivers that have competed there.
“We’re very excited about this race coming up and a lot of corporate partners coming in, so when Indianapolis came on the schedule everybody signed up for it. It’s a really, big deal.”