Roaming the halls at an auto show, it’s not unusual to see a few race cars salted about. They’re typically historic or vintage race cars, though occasionally last year’s F1 car will turn up for a while. But it’s incredibly rare that an active race car, let alone one that just took one checkered flag and will be taking another green in just a matter of weeks, is dropped into the press day scrum during an auto show. But that’s exactly what Wayne Taylor Racing and Cadillac did for the 2017 New York auto show, bringing in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R Prototype fresh off its win in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Grand Prix of Long Beach.
We were lucky enough to score some time with the drivers of the No. 10 car, Jordan and Ricky Taylor, to see how the luxury American brand’s return to prototype racing was going so far in its first year — and what it’s like living with Rodney Sandstorm.
AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE: How weird is it to have your actual race car here on the show floor?
Ricky Taylor: It’s a different context.
Jordan Taylor: It is weird. It’s kind of cool. Everyone’s asking if it’s a show car. But this is the car that’s winning the races.
AM: So, fresh off a victory at Long Beach in Cadillac’s new DPi-V.R IMSA Prototype and standing next to that very race car at the New York Auto Show, what do you have to say about the win?
JT: I think on paper it looked like a perfect weekend. We led every practice, we got the pole in qualifying, we won the race. But the race was actually pretty interesting. There was a new class with us, GTD, so about 35 cars on a street course makes things difficult. There were a lot of yellows, and the 2 car from Extreme Speed was able to jump up the strategy and take a gamble, and it worked for them. So they were actually leading the middle portion of the race up until 5 minutes to go, but we were able to get a run up in traffic and get the lead and win the race, which made it three-for-three for us and Cadillac for the first three races of the year.
AM: It’s also the third in a row at Long Beach.
RT: Long Beach has been a good track for us.
AM: Your long-time teammate Max Angelelli retired after the Daytona 24 this year. How is his replacement, Alex Lynn, working out?
JT: Alex fit right in. I mean, it’s tough. Max had been with us forever, so it took us a while to find someone we thought would fit. Alex is a similar age, good personality, fit in with the team, and he’s quick. He’s got lots of experience with open wheel, in GP2 and Formula 1, but not a whole lot of sports car experience. So we wanted him to feel comfortable with us, and I think he fit perfectly. His pace was right on at Sebring, didn’t make a mistake, so he’s exactly what we wanted. He’ll be back with us at Petit Le Mans later in the year.
AM: Tell us about the new car, how has it treated you so far?
JT: When you go into a sports car season, starting off with the Daytona 24 hours, it’s your toughest race. And to go in with a brand new car, unproven really, all of the Cadillacs ran flawlessly for 24 hours, which is unheard of for a brand new race car. Then we went to Sebring, same story, all the Cadillacs were in the top 3.
RT: The Sebring 12 hours is harder than the 24 Hours of Daytona, on the car at least.
AM: What’s the biggest challenging driving the DPi-V.R? It’s a new car, so there’s still some ongoing development. What’s the hard thing about driving this car?
RT: For me, it’s been the small details. Everything adds up. The car makes so much downforce, you really have to make the most out of every component. So, like the engine has so much torque. Little things like the throttle mapping are right, and the pedal has a good feel so you can modulate the throttle, or your foot’s not bouncing on the pedal. We’ve had issues with the foot bouncing on the pedal. With your driving, your brake points have to be right on, because you can brake so late. So just all those little things, where with the DP or with our past GT experience, you just muscle the car around to go fast. With this one, you have to really finesse it around, and use the little things. We’re always looking at each other’s onboard video and data. We’ve worked together this year more than ever, pushing each other to go faster and faster.
AM: It sounds like it’s more about making the raw performance in the car more accessible to you as drivers?
JT: Exactly. The window is quite small, where you’re driving. It’s easy to overdrive, it’s really easy to underdrive, because the limit’s so high. So you really have to fit into that window, and it’s smaller than other race cars we’ve driven.
RT: I think for the engineers as well, it’s understanding what it takes for the car to go fast. Springs, ride heights, aero levels. It’s brand new, so we have to test everything to see what works. We’re three races in, but I think there’s still a lot more to learn about it. Like in Long Beach, there were two practice sessions, and in one we tried something with the front-end suspension geometry we’ve never tried before just because we don’t have any other opportunities. We’re still learning. We ended up keeping the new geometry through the race, it was a really good change.
JT: There are a lot of new pieces on the car that we’ve never been able to change before, and this year, we have that option, so. Dallara, who does all the engineering behind the car, they have all the data on other types of cars, so they can tell us, you know, if you change this, expect this. So they have experience of what it should do, but we have to make sure that’s what it’s actually going to do.
RT: There are so many of the computer guys that run the simulations that say, ‘Oh, you have to run 3,000-lb/in springs!” and then we go to the race track, there’s no way we’re putting those on because the car’s undriveable. So you have to test it out practically, too.
AM: What do you think about those rumors of a mid-engine Corvette street car? What if that car were really a mid-engine Cadillac? Who would know better than you if that’s a good idea?
JT: Well, it’s been flawless for us. It’s got the 6.2-liter V-8 from the CTS-V and Escalade, so you could probably pretty much take it straight from here to the street, if you wanted to.
RT: Raise the ride height a bit!
JT: You might want treaded tires, though, for the road.
RT: And you wouldn’t want to be drinking a coffee, not in this car.
JT: We do have the rearview camera and monitor from the CTS-V, so you could program a little video into it, that would be good.
AM: How has that camera worked this season? Not all drivers seem to like rearview cameras.
JT; It’s the exact same Gentex camera and monitor that are in the street car. And it works! We’ve always had rearview cameras that had…not great picture. Now it’s like you’re looking out the rearview mirror.
RT: The bad thing with the old cameras, they kept having this issue where it reversed the image, so right was left and left was right. And that messed with us!
JT: For us in endurance racing, you go into the night. When your mirror gets a headlight in it, it blows out, but with this one you can adjust the brightness, so it’s really nice.
AM: You guys are obviously having a great time racing — more of a great time than most. What’s the deal with Rodney Sandstorm? And what’s it like to live with him?
RT: It’s a full-time job for him, always coming up with something. He’s like, ‘Ricky, read this story, I just wrote it!’ I read it, and it’s hilarious.
We never sit next to each other on the plane, so I’ll be behind him, or across the aisle, and when I see him over there, taking pictures secretly, I know exactly what he’s doing. I see him laughing to himself, and he’s just having a great time. His brain just works differently, he’s super creative with all of his ideas.
AM: So he’s not constantly pranking you? Because it seems like he would be.
RT: Oh, he’s got tons of footage that he doesn’t post, thankfully for me.
JT: I’m saving it for his wedding!
The Taylor brothers, along with the rest of the Wayne Taylor Racing crew, face their next challenge for IMSA Prototype dominance in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship May 4-6 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the fifth event of the 13-race 2017 season.