DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 4, 2008) – Wayne Taylor is experiencing a special father-son moment during this weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona test session as he is sharing the driver’s seat on the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley with his son Ricky Taylor.
Said Wayne Taylor: “I was just saying to him now that in all the years that he has been coming here, did he ever think that one day he would be driving with me? He said, ‘no.’ I said, ‘me too.’ I really never expected it. There are not many people that get the opportunity to do this. It’s really fantastic.”
Joining Wayne and the 18-year-old Ricky Taylor during this weekend’s test on the No. 10 car – which won the 2005 overall Rolex 24 – are Max Angelelli and Michael Vallante.
While the team hasn’t made their official driver lineup announcement, Wayne Taylor said his son Ricky’s biggest challenge in a preparing for a potential Rolex 24 start is negotiating the traffic that comes with the twice-around-the-clock challenge.
“This weekend, the focus is going to be getting through traffic,” said Wayne Taylor, who calls nearby Apopka his home. “He can do the lap times. The big thing in our racing is getting through traffic.”
“We’ve been talking about this for so long about being teammates,” said Ricky Taylor, who has previous experience in Skip Barber and go-karting.
In addition to his son Ricky, Wayne Taylor’s other son Jordan, 16, has locked up a Rolex 24 ride co-driving the No. 17 Terra Firma Motorsports Porsche in the GT class.
“I’m trying to get my wife in the pace car and then I’ll have my whole family on the track,” Wayne Taylor quipped.
Father-son part II: The starting command “Drivers, start your engines” for the 46th anniversary of the Rolex 24 will be a special one for Alex Gurney. His father Dan Gurney, the inaugural winner of the 1962 Daytona Continental (now Rolex 24), will serve as the Grand Marshal of this year’s Rolex 24 and will give the starting command.
Gurney and Jon Fogarty, the defending Daytona Prototype champions, along with 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will co-drive the No. 99 Lowe's/GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley in the Rolex 24.
Last year’s Rolex 24 didn’t go as planned for Gurney and the No. 99 car, which started on the pole but suffered an early freak contact incident and then later dropped out with a gearbox issue to finish 46th overall.
“I’m extremely excited
about going racing again,” Alex Gurney said. “Everyone on the team is very motivated to try to repeat the kind of race performances we had in 2007. The Rolex Daytona 24 was the one race that didn’t go as planned but we are doing everything we can to make amends this year.”
Another NASCAR driver joins the Rolex 24: You can add another NASCAR driver to mix in the Rolex 24. A.J. Allmendinger will make his third career start in the Rolex 24 once again with Michael Shank Racing co-driving the No. 6 Ford Riley with John Pew, Ian James and Burt Frisselle.
“I get to turn left and right again so that’s always a fun thing,” said Allmendinger, who drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 84 Toyota Camry. “The last two years, we came so close to winning it in ’06 and we were fast last year. I look at Mike and his whole team, they are real racers. They are here to win and they work hard for it and have a great time doing it.”
Roar Before The Rolex 24: The second day of the three-day Rolex 24 test session on Saturday will be the Fan Fest event known as the Roar Before the Rolex 24. Admission is $10 and gates open at 9 a.m. The day’s activities will include fan forums, a tech talk, displays and garage access.
Race fans can purchase their tickets for the 46th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27 online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. If race fans purchase a two-day advance infield/grandstand ticket by Jan. 19, they will receive a free collectible Rolex 24 hat.