BY MATT MURSCHEL
DAYTONA BEACH - It's the golden anniversary of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and though most of the celebrations this month have revolved around honoring the past 50 years, the future of the sport looks just as promising.
A new generation of drivers are making a name for themselves, and in some cases that name is a familiar one.
Wayne Taylor won the Rolex 24 in 1996 then again in 2005, so he knows just how important the 24-hour endurance race can be.
"The Rolex is always the most important race of the year," Taylor said.
He has passed that knowledge on to his two sons - Ricky and Jordan Taylor - who were driving this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
But at least one will have to wait to match Wayne by visiting Victory Lane.
Ricky, 22, was in the driver lineup for his dad's SunTrust Racing team driving the No.10 Corvette DP. Max Angelelli started second in Chevrolet but went to the garage with an engine issue 25 minutes in. The car went back out after about five minutes but was out for good moments later.
Jordan, 20, is also in the field racing for Autohaus Motorsports team. He is part of the No.88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT that also includes Paul Edwards, Matthew Marsh and Tom Milner.
"The race has a huge history for my family," Jordan added. "My dad's won the race twice so it's something very special for us. It's also our home race living in Orlando."
Though racing commands a major part of their lives, Ricky and Jordan are also college students. Both attend UCF, with Ricky majoring in mechanical engineering and Jordan studying marketing.
They acknowledge their school life is much different than the one on the track, and few classmates know what they do on their weekends and vacations.
"What's hard is the change of pace," Ricky adds. "I am going from two different worlds and just turning your mind into school mode and then going 180 degrees and you are back in racing mode."
Both drivers have found success in their classes, but both acknowledge the impact their father has had on their careers.
"I would never be where I am today if it wasn't for my dad," Ricky said.
"He's a great coach," Jordan added. "My dad has all endurance racing background so he's the perfect guy to go to for advice."
EARLY RETURNS:After 81/2 hours, the No.8 Ford Riley driven by Ryan Dalziel, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish, Alex Popow and Enzo Potolicchio led the overall standings. Charles Espenlaub of Lutz, on the same No.40 Mazda team as actor Patrick Dempsey, was three laps behind GT class leader Robin Liddell. Patrick Long of Belleair, co-driving the No.45 Porsche, was one lap farther behind in the GT class.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.