Jordan Taylor has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and the list goes on and on. Even with this glowing resume and GM Factory Driver status, he might be best known for his comical social media content.
Often times, the social media accounts of athletes seem to be put through a PR filter, or scheduled with sponsor shout outs. That’s not something Taylor likes to read, so it’s not something he prefers to post.
“I look at it from the perspective of what I enjoy seeing on social media,” Taylor said. “You can compare it to basketball players posting ‘we had a great game and did our best.’ It’s the same with race car drivers. They’ll post of a picture of the car and say ‘it was a good weekend.’ You see that 99 percent of the time and people get bored of it, so I post what I would enjoy.”
While many drivers keep their social posts restricted to their racing career, Taylor gives followers a look inside his travels, his home life and family life (father Wayne Taylor is a former driver, now team owner and brother Ricky Taylor is a professional driver entered in the No. 43 Riley Mk.30 Gibson this week).
“Basically I post what I’m about and who I am,” Taylor explained. “I think people respect that and enjoy that and it gives them more insight into who you are besides a race car driver. There are so many other drivers who are really funny and outgoing, but you’d never know it.”
It started with pictures of people sleeping on airplanes, then mini music videos and then there was his infamous quest to grow a mullet. When he adopted a dog, Fonzie, a whole new category of content was created, including Taylor serenading Fonzie in the car, or setting up an elegant date night for the two of them. Many of these posts went viral and showed up on other feeds that had nothing to do with racing.
Just in time for this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Taylor created a new social media persona: Rodney Sandstorm, a jean-short wearing, selfie-taking superfan that prowls the IMSA paddock. He managed to trick several of his fellow IMSA drivers to take a picture with him (not knowing it was Taylor), but he couldn’t get the best of his Daytona teammate and former NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon, who recognized Taylor behind the hat, sunglasses and old-school DuPont leather jacket.
Not everyone is amused by Taylor’s social strategy though. He is often criticized for not being as professional as he should be, since he is viewed as an ambassador for the sport, manufacturers and his sponsors.
“I get called out on it a lot, saying that it’s not professional,” Taylor said. “If I wasn’t winning races, I probably wouldn’t be doing it, but I think if you’re successful and doing a good job, it’s okay to have fun.
“Konica Minolta, for example, has been a great partner of ours. Their CEO is a huge goofball and he loves it. When I had my mullet, he was all over it. When I get called out by a fan, telling me I shouldn’t be doing this stuff, he’s the first person to step up and defend me publicly. It’s nice to have people like that behind me.”
If you run into Taylor at the track, don’t expect a slapstick comedy show. Despite his social media persona, Taylor describes himself as “shy” and “subdued.” This hasn’t stopped him from acquiring superfans, who hunt him down across the globe.
“There’s one lady here and she picked up on one of my music videos, so she shouts at me every time she sees me,” Taylor laughed. “This year she has orange hair and gave me an orange wig to match. There’s a group from Spain that supports Antonio too, they flew to Daytona to watch. It’s amazing to think it’s turned into that… that I could have people supporting me all around the world. It’s really humbling.”
Fans at Le Mans will be able to get their very own picture with Taylor and Fonzie (more specifically, a cardboard version of the two) near the Corvette setup in the paddock.