Taylor & Angelelli ‘One Entity’ For IROC
Grand American road racing champion Wayne Taylor spent the majority
of last week practising for his inaugural effort at the International
Race of Champions (IROC) race at Daytona International Speedway
– writes Russell Wittenberg. Three days on the high
banks of Daytona, and driving a front engine race car for the first
time, was a challenging experience for the 49-year-old Taylor.
accepted the offer to drive in IROC because it was such an honor,”
said Taylor. “But I have to admit, I had some concern about
driving these cars. Everything I ever learned in the past about
driving a race car, I had to throw out. I’ve basically had
to learn everything all over again. The IROC people have been fantastic
in coaching me on the differences of driving these cars and on racing
on just the superspeedway. I’ve been getting better and better.
I really love it.”
Round 1 (of 4) of the Crown Royal IROC Series, an
invitation-only series which features 12 of the best drivers in
the world, competing in identically prepared Pontiac Firebirds in
a 40-lap sprint race, will kick off the 2006 season on the 2.5-mile
tri-oval Daytona superspeedway on February 17.
The IROC Series of late has become somewhat of a
farce outside of the NASCAR world. For pretty much the whole of
the last decade, road racers and their series have been ignored
by the IROC Series. IROC had basically turned into a NASCAR all-star
race run exclusively on NASCAR type oval courses. Last year, Scott
Pruett and Max Papis where invited from the Grand Am series, which
marked the first real representation of road racers since 1995,
when IMSA's Hurley Haywood and Steve Millen, along with Trans-Am's
Tom Kendall, competed. Throughout the '70s and '80s the IROC series
had an interesting and international mix of stock car, open wheel
and road racers competing on a mixture street, natural and stadium
courses. The '70s era included world caliber drives such as Mario
Andretti, Jacky Ickx, Al Holbert, Peter Gregg and Brian Redman,
representing the FIA, FISA and IMSA. The driver invitations continued
to impress throughout the '80s and early '90s with names like, Emerson
Fittipaldi, Jochen Mass, Hans Stuck, Martin Brundle, Geoff Brabham,
Juan Fangio III and Davy Jones.
This year’s June 29 IROC race at Daytona will
run the infield road course, which hasn't been used in the IROC
since its inaugural season in 1973-74, won by legendary driver Mark
Donohue. Road courses have been absent from the IROC series since
the 1991 event at Watkins Glen.
David Donohue, son of Mark Donohue, the first IROC
Series champion in 1974, is serving as an IROC driving coach for
Taylor, along with other veteran Crown Royal IROC test drivers.
“Having David Donohue as a test driver with
IROC this year is especially good for me, as we do know each other
and both come from the Grand-Am Series,” added Taylor.
Taylor and teammate
Max Angelelli, were invited to compete in the 2006 running of the
30th annual Crown Royal IROC Series because of their Drivers’
Championship in the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.
is just a great experience for both of us,” said Taylor, “and
it will be a pleasure to represent road racing.”
Taylor and Angelelli will each drive two of the
four races, which are being counted as a single entity in the standings
and replicating the Grand American Road Racing format – an
IROC first. Taylor will drive the season-opener on the Daytona superspeedway
and the IROC finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 24. Angelelli
will compete in Round 2 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7 and at
the Daytona International Speedway road course on June 29.
Car set-up, qualifying and pit stops are eliminated
from the IROC race formula so as to make conditions as equal as
possible for the drivers of different racing disciplines. The overall
points winner(s) will win $1 million, with a total purse of $1.9
million. In the case of Taylor and Angelelli, they will be considered
‘one entity’. Their combined points will be judged against
the other individual drivers.
for the 30th running of the Crown Royal IROC Series include Mark
Martin, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Steve Kinser, Ted Musgrave,
Frank Kimmel, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth – plus Sam Hornish
and Scott Sharp from the IRL and Max Papis.
Hopefully the inclusion for the second year of Grand
Am racers will signal the start of a trend to bring the IROC series
back true to its name, and become again as it once was, a real International
Race of Champions.