The second in a series of articles highlighting each champion driver in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, “Making of a Champion” shares some previous experiences and “backstory” that led to this driver becoming a champion.
Without question, 2017 was a life-changing year for Ricky Taylor.
Co-driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with his younger brother, Jordan Taylor, for the Wayne Taylor Racing team owned by his father, Ricky Taylor earned his first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
En route to the title, the team won the first five races of the season. That streak included the first victory for the brothers in the Rolex 24 At Daytona as Ricky came out on top in a thrilling, late-race battle with Filipe Albuquerque. They followed that with a win at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, repeating a 36 Hours of Florida sweep that Wayne accomplished as a driver 21 years earlier.
“This championship was all about the team, really, and not to be just that guy that says that,” Ricky said. “It really started at the beginning of 2016 when they started designing the car and then getting on track in November and all the preparation. It’s just been a great group of guys that put so much into the Cadillac.
“Just the way everybody performed and did their job, I think there were so many people that were so good at their job that we didn’t have to worry about it. Everything kind of took care of itself from there. The season started off with five straight wins, and to do that with Jordan and my dad was a dream come true.”
Shortly after the Rolex 24 victory, Ricky got a unique opportunity to test 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud’s Team Penske IndyCar at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The team must have liked what they saw in that test, as shortly after the 2017 WeatherTech Championship season ended, the team named Ricky as one of the drivers for the team’s new Acura ARX-05 DPi Prototypes that will make their debut in the 2018 WeatherTech Championship.
“It’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten, to get an offer from a big team like Team Penske,” Ricky said. “It’s a dream come true, but with that great feeling of making it outside of dad’s team, it’s also a lot of pressure to perform, change gears and continue to prove myself.
“As cool as it is, as flattering and as much as an accomplishment as it feels like it’s been so far just to get this drive, I’m definitely putting myself under a lot of pressure. This is an opportunity where I have to perform, and I’m expected to do the job at a really high level. Although my dad gave me a hard time and he pushes me and Jordan really hard, it’s going to be different with Team Penske.”
It will be different, but it’s not like Ricky hasn’t raced for other teams before. In 2013, he left Wayne Taylor Racing to drive a Corvette Daytona Prototype for VISIT FLORIDA Racing.