The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport entry of Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz and Brendon Hartley at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. (Dallas Breeze Photo)

Ricky Taylor Seeks Long Beach Redemption

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Ricky Taylor seeks redemption in today’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach IMSA contest after his bold move for the lead ended in a thud into the tire barrier in 2023.

Taylor was driving the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Andretti Global Acura GTP that fellow driver Felipe Albuquerque had driven to the pole. It fell back in the field after a slow pit stop earlier in the 100-minute race, but with Ricky Taylor behind the wheel, he was able to race his way back to the leader, Mathieu Jaminet, in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport GTP entry.

Taylor saw the opportunity, went for the lead, and crashed.

Jaminet went on to win the race. 

Taylor recalled the dramatic change in emotions from battling for the win, to sitting behind the wheel of his crashed race car as the race continued without him.

“The range of emotions go from being in the battle, fighting back from an early mistake, fighting back to put yourself in a position to win, being right at the heart of the action to suddenly being an afterthought of the race and being inconsequential,” Taylor said. “That’s hard.

“An example from that race is you are in it; you don’t know what is going outside that car you are in a little bubble fighting one-on-one with another driver.”

During the intense competition, race drivers are able to block out the periphery – the spectators and sounds of the crowd. They are focused on the fight.

But when it ends so quickly, it creates an unmistakable sensation.

“The thing that sticks in my memory of that race was after I crashed, the silence of it and hearing the loudspeaker with the IMSA Radio commentators continuing the race on as if I were never there,” Taylor recalled. “Like, ‘These guys are good on fuel. This guy is on old tires. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’ and I was not even mentioned. 

“It goes to show we are forgotten very quickly after something like that.”

Ricky Taylor certainly hasn’t forgotten. 

He returns to Long Beach as part of a powerful two-car Acura GTP effort for Wayne Taylor Racing/Andretti Global seeking redemption.

“There is a lot of redemption that we want this year,” Taylor said. “We’ve already raced at Daytona and Sebring, two of our longest races of the year, but for me personally, the Long Beach race is the one I let slip away. I can’t put that on anyone else. 

“For me, I would love some redemption.”

“This race is quite high up there. We also need to check one off for Acura at their title event as well.”

In 2023, Wayne Taylor Racing and Andretti Global joined forces to compete in the extremely competitive IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series. This year, the combination is ready to achieve greatness as a two-car Acura GTP operation.

“The partnership with Andretti Global has been very valuable,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “Long Beach is always a very, very important race for us. We’ve won it a few times, but not in the Acura. We were very close last year. Clearly, this time around with two cars, we will be in a much better position to win this for Acura and HRC.

“It is their biggest race of the year. The pressure is on us to perform.

“I’ve been racing and doing this a very long time. When you become a fully factory-backed program, it comes with a lot of pressure. There are so many people that have put their trust in us to perform, it makes it that much more difficult.

“But there is no ‘Rocket Science’ to how to win these races. You have to have a clean race; you have to execute properly and hopefully we will all become competitive against the other cars because we started at Daytona with so much weight on the car. 

“By the time we get to Long Beach that will all be gone and hopefully we can continue to move forward.”

Wayne Taylor Racing has won the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach three-straight years from 2015-2017, but it was the Chevrolet Corvette operation in 2015 and 2016 and a Cadillac entry beginning in 2017.

Wayne Taylor Racing joined Acura in 2021.

In 2024, WTR/Andretti will be the Acura GTP team competing in the IMSA race in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

It’s a very important race for the Acura team to win because of all the connections involved.

“Daytona is special because it’s the Rolex and then to Sebring, the 12 Hours and it’s the hardest race because of all the bumps,” Ricky Taylor explained. “But then there is Long Beach and Long Beach is right up there with them not just for the fact it’s Acura’s home race, but it’s such a difficult race. It’s one of only two street courses we go to this season and it’s a really difficult one to win. 

“For a street race the first few years, we thought it wouldn’t be so bad, but then we realized the team was making us look good there and it was really a tough one to win. We’ve been fighting it the last four or five wins. It’s such a challenge. You have to do everything right to win there. 

“The smallest mistake can really end your race.”

It’s the only race of the weekend where Acuras are in competition on the track. 

Acura is part of the Honda brand, which goes into competition the following day in the NTT IndyCar Series Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“As a fan of motorsports, Long Beach is such an historic event,” Ricky Taylor said. “There was another manufacturer that sponsored the event for so many years before. When it became Acura, we were driving Acuras at the time and it was, ‘Oh, my God, this is such a cool opportunity to have a home race for Acura.’ For it to be at Long Beach is even more special because of the history of the event.

“It’s nice to be running up front at the sponsor’s hometown race.”

“Ricky’s Redemption” isn’t to just run up front in the sponsors race, it’s to finish as the winner after last year’s disappointment.