By: Ashley McCubbin
With a pair of top-five’s in the first two races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar season, Ricky Taylor and company currently rank second in the series standings. The Wayne Taylor Racing driver recently spoke with NEWS FROM THE PITS about Long Beach, his season to date, and racing for his father.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts going into Long Beach?
RICKY TAYLOR: Long beach is always a big race for us – it’s Acura’s home race so it’s always a lot of pressure to perform and a have a great race. It’s been difficult the past couple of years. The Cadillac’s have always been strong on street courses so we’ve made a lot of changes to the car since the last time we were in Long Beach and learned a lot about the bumpy street courses.
Although we’re the underdogs against the Cadillac’s on the street courses, we’re willing to take some risks to hopefully get on the podium.
ASHLEY: What is the toughest part of the Long Beach street circuit?
RICKY: I think aside from the details of the track and specific corners, I think the difficult part is how you manage the one pit stop. It’s a only 100 minute so that pit stop becomes very important and it’s hard to overtake in Long Beach. Even with the multi-class racing, it’s hard to make a pass within your class, whereas the Rolex 24, Sebring, those big tracks, we have lots of pit stops and opportunities to make something happen. But at Long Beach, it’s one shot – driver change, fuel, tire, all in one go. So I think nailing that is the toughest part, and when you pit as well – four tires, two tires. There’s a lot of options for sure.
ASHLEY: What are your thoughts on your season so far?
RICKY: We were talking with our team the other day and the last couple of years, we’ve left Daytona as the championship leaders, and this year we didn’t, and we’ve lost the championship by just the slimmest of margins. Even though we’re just two races in, we have a bad habit of shifting into championship mode very early and playing on the defensive and protecting points and not attacking every weekend out, and I think that’s come back to bite us to a bit. The people that have been winning the championship have been coming from the back and taking a little bit of risk.
So I think at this point in the season, it’s time for us to take a page out of somebody else’s book and be a bit aggressive, not worry about the championship so early. Although we’re second in points, we’re going to aggressive and take some risks.
ASHLEY: What do you feel you and your team could do even better?
RICKY: I think the team did a good job executing last year – I think the risk taking is somewhere we can improve. But aside from those off track things, we need to be better on the street courses. Obviously we’re very strong on some of the very smooth tracks like Watkins Glen, Laguna (Seca) so capitalizing on those is very important. But we need to overachieve on the street courses where we’re not favored. Instead of just settling to be the best Acura, we need to fight and try to be in there with the Cadillac’s.
ASHLEY: What are your thoughts on how the battle is shaping up between Acura and Cadillac this season in the year for DPi?
RICKY: Yeah, it’s a bit sad everywhere you go that you’re thinking this is the last time you’re going to be in DPi here; these cars are fantastic. But yeah, to answer your question on the Cadillac vs Acura battle, I think it’s going to be just like the last few years. I think when we go to Long Beach and Detroit, it will be tough to beat the Cadillac’s. But then we get into our swing of the season in the second half where we go to Watkins (Glen), Laguna, those sort of places.
It’s going to even and flow through the season as neither of us have a good string of races where we’re favored, and then we always finish the season at Road America for Petite LeMan, and that’s one that I feel is very close between the two, and it always comes down to the end for the fight for the championship and the 10 hours of Petite.
ASHLEY: Your family has been involved in sportscar for a long time. What does it mean to be carrying that legacy forward?
RICKY: It’s always been special for me and Jordan (Taylor) to carry on in dad’s (Wayne Taylor) footsteps. I think initially it’s a lot of pressure, but also, we’d never be where we are without our dad directing us in the right directions and teaching us everything we need to do to be professional racecar drivers. Obviously now that we’re here with me driving for my dad and Jordan with Corvette Racing. We have to just treat it like its our job and nobody is going to give you something just because of your last name.
So we need to perform each and every weekend, and for me personally, the family business is what we’re racing for also. There’s a little added pressure from dad, but we have to get the results, too. Although we’re having fun, we can’t just be out there for fun; we have to work hard at it.
ASHLEY: I know you’re saying it’s extra special, but there’s the pressure of winning and success. How do you handle that?
RICKY: Everybody deals with pressure in a different way. For me, I feel very self critical. I’m always the first one to criticize myself and I feel the pressure from the guys who work so hard on the team. They do so much in-between races to get the car ready and they do such a good job on the weekends to give us a chance to win. So if I think about that all the time, I’m just going to work myself into a nervous mess.
But for me, I trust in what I do, focus on my one job, I can’t control what I can’t control, and kind of trust what I can do on the track and focus on one job at a time, not think too much in everything that goes into this. While I’m aware of it, I try to not think about it a lot or I’ll freak out.
ASHLEY: Did you always want to be involved in racing?
RICKY: I think obviously growing up around it, we were introduced into it at a high level and got to see the work that goes in behind the scenes, and passion that’s there. if I hadn’t had a dad in racing, I don’t know if I’d discovered it, but I’m happy I did because it’s all I love and all I know how to do. I don’t think we could do anything else, whether driving or working on the team side, or engineering side, or business side, having some sort of job in racing was something I always wanted.
Lucky to be driving at the moment, and hopefully one day it translates into another position.
ASHLEY: Rolex 24 at Daytona. You can have any drivers you want as your teammates in the whole wide world. Whose the dream team?
RICKY: If I was to pick, obviously I can’t pick anybody currently I’m driving with because they’re my favorites. But I’d take Max Angelelli, my brother Jordan, and my dad. It’s a very answer for me. We did drive together one year, so that’d be fun to bring everybody back together.