Jordan Taylor: Extremely Tough Race

July 21, 2010

Jordan Taylor prepares for the start of the race at Virginia International Raceway.

Jordan Taylor, driver of the No. 30 Mazda RX-8, regularly blogs for GRAND-AM.com. When not racing, he attends the University of Central Florida, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

Heading to New Jersey, I was slated to drive in my Rolex Series GT class Mazda RX-8 for Racers Edge, and also the No. 91 VW GTI for APR Motorsport in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge ST class. For the GT race, I had a new teammate, Dave Lacey. The whole team was looking forward to having Dave join the team. He is quick and has huge experience in GT racing. For the ST race, I was with Ian Baas, who I have done a few races with this year in the GS class.

I have done a few weekends with APR this year, starting at Barber, driving their new Audi S4 in the GS class. I was looking forward to doing this race in the ST car because APR has been up front every race with the other GTI’s. In the first two sessions of the day, Ian was working through a few little things to get the car just right. During the third session we had a problem come up that would take us out for the weekend. I still had the GT race left, but that was the end of the week for Ian. I felt really bad for him as this is the second time this year that he wasn’t able to get in the car for the race. Hopefully his luck will turn around soon.

For the GT weekend, we were in the top three in both practice sessions. We decided to change up our strategy this weekend and have Dave qualify. At the end of qualifying, we were to line up 16th. Dave did a great job with being out of the car since the Rolex 24 earlier this year. His second child was born recently which has kept him away from the track.

When Dave came in for his first stop, he was checking for his fuel-used reading on the dash to read out to the engineer and just missed our pit box. Since that happened we had to come back in during green flag to get the pit stop for the 45-minute rule, and doing that, we went a lap down. I got in with exactly two hours left. I knew we were a lap down when I got in, but I was just 18 seconds behind the current leader. I reeled in both of the Stevenson cars in about 10-15 laps to get our lap back.

After we got our lap back, a yellow came out, so we were back in it. When we restarted, we were back in eighth or ninth. I passed a few cars, and a few others got penalties, and before we knew it, we were up to third! I was catching Leh Keen in the No. 41, and when I finally got up to him, it seemed like he picked up speed and I couldn’t get close enough to make a move. Then with about 25 minutes to go, another caution came out, and a few cars behind pitted for new tires.

When the green flag fell, I was passed by two cars like I was standing still. I never would have guessed the new tires would have been worth two-to-three seconds! So I was in a comfortable fifth place with about 15 minutes to go when I found myself following Leh straight off the track on oil. Unfortunately, the grill picked up grass, causing the engine temp to rise, which forced us to pit to clean it off, pushing us back to eighth, which is where we finished.

It was an extremely tough race. I drove for two hours straight, with no cool suit. It was 139 degrees in the car for the entire stint, so I could feel the heat going straight through me.

Now with a three week break until Watkins Glen, I have lots of time to prepare. One thing that my brother and I have started doing is knee boarding on our lake. We usually stick to slalom skiing, but decided we wanted to try something new. With the Racer Edge shop based in DeLand, Fla., just an hour away from my house, I am able to visit the shop about once a week. Most of the guys on the team are young, so the team’s chemistry is really good, and I think we all get along really well. They have come over to my house a few times over the past few weeks, and we go out on the lake. For most of them, going on the water is pretty new, so it’s funny to watch them fall.

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