IMSA: Taylor brothers score one last one for “The Mullet” with Detroit victory

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The Taylor brothers are often in the headlines a lot for their quirkiness, and Jordan Taylor’s mullet.

But in what was “The Mullet’s” swan song, Taylor’s brother Ricky delivered a victory in the fifth TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype class race of the season, after a dramatic bang-it-up battle with Joao Barbosa in a similar Corvette Daytona Prototype in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

Ricky Taylor, in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry and Barbosa, in the No. 5 Action Express Racing entry, made contact on the final lap. Barbosa limped his car around to the finish with a damaged left rear, while Taylor held on with a wounded car as a hard charging Richard Westbrook, in another Corvette DP, nearly made it past.

As Westbrook closed in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona entry, Taylor had enough of a car left to hold on for the win on the 2.35-mile street course. With three runner-up finishes this year, this was a big breakthrough for the No. 10 car.

“For those last couple laps it was really tooth and nail,” Ricky Taylor said. “I was giving it everything I had, on the restart I had a really good gap, but once I went into defensive mode, I didn’t know how many laps I had on him, he was definitely strong. When he put us in the wall the only thing I was thinking was either he is going to have a tire go down or I was definitely going to break because it was a hard hit. But I couldn’t be happier for our guys, after driving with the Spirit of Daytona last year I found out how hard those guys work so it’s nice to see the team on the podium with us as well.”

From Westbrook’s vantage point? “I thought they were going to take each other off,” he said, after finishing a season-best second with co-driver Michael Valiante.

It was roughly the sports car equivalent of the 1997 CART race at Detroit, when both PacWest Racing Group teammates Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell ran out of fuel from the lead, which allowed Greg Moore to sneak past and take the win.

Behind the Corvettes, OAK Racing secured its first podium in the TUDOR Championship with Gustavo Yacaman and Olivier Pla finishing third in the No. 42 Morgan Nissan. Michael Shank Racing finished a season-best fourth with Ozz Negri and John Pew in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley with the No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp P5.

In GT Daytona, the 2013 Rolex Series GT champion Scuderia Corsa team took its first win of the season with Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal in the No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. The pair finished second in this race last year, and now, the team matches its 2013 win total (Kansas Speedway).

The No. 23 Team Seattle/AJR entry recorded its season-best finish of second with Ian James and Mario Farnbacher in their Porsche 911 GT America. The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS made it back-to-back podium finishes with Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller in third place, after finishing second at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the beginning of the month.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”