Fighting through tears after an emotional tribute to league admin Patrick Taylor, Dan Geren delivered a redemption drive for the ages to win the RaceCentre 100 at Australia’s Phillip Island.
“This win is for Patrick Taylor,” Geren said in an emotional victory lane interview. “Words cannot express how sad we all are of his passing, the shock is still here even a week later. We love him dearly, we miss him dearly, and this wins for Patrick.”
The race marked the first event for the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment since Taylor, a native of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, died following a brain aneurysm. The 35-year-old was remembered before the race with a two-lap salute, as race director Jesse Vincent paced the field in Taylor’s blue and grey No. 81. Drivers ran special rear wings with a memorial logo to honor Taylor, the inaugural winner of the Dan Wheldon Driver of the Year award in the series.
“This has just hit us so hard,” series founder Jorge Anzaldo said before the race. “Patrick meant so much to this league. Patrick did so much for this league that we will be forever grateful, and we will do everything in our power to continue to honor him for as long as the Lionheart IndyCar Series is in existence.”
Geren looked like a driver on a mission, leading all but two laps from the pole. In 2016, Geren appeared on his way to a win at Phillip Island, but a spin cost him the lead and the race, as he came home a close second to Jake Wright.
This time, Wright couldn’t find a way past Geren.
“Jake is a very tough person to race on a road course,” Geren said. “To best him finally, it’s just awesome.
Geren’s first career road course win propelled him into a tie with Wright in the championship battle.
“If I’m going to lose a race or the championship or anything, Dan is one of those people I’d be fine losing to,” Wright said. “Dan just dominated all week. I did everything I could to maybe pass him, but couldn’t.”
Brian Yaczik came home third, fending off challenges from Dustin Wardlow and Michael Goodman. The three crossed the line within one second of each other.
“I feel a little bit like I got some justice,” Yaczik said after the race. “I was probably going to finish on the podium back at Mosport and I sped on pit road. I had to come back and get me one.”
Only one major incident affected the race. With two laps remaining, Adam Blocker got into the back of Jason Robarge as the two battled for eighth. Blocker continued on, finishing 12th, but Robarge was unable to continue and fell to 29th.
James Krahula recovered from an early off-track incident to finish sixth. Andrew Kinsella drove from 15th starting spot to finish seventh. Jason Galvin, George Adams and Ryan Otis rounded out the top ten.
36 cars took the green flag. 16 cars finished on the lead lap, while 32 cars finished the race.
Wright and Geren extended the gap to third place Andrew Kinsella to 90 points. Goodman and Krahula round out the top five in the standings.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment now take a month off, before the #NailedIt 150 at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The time off will be good for the series, which continues to heal following the shocking death of one of its most popular drivers.
“Patrick will always be in our hearts, he will always be remembered, and he will always be our friend and our fellow Lionheart family member, and we cannot thank him enough,” Anzaldo said. “You were the best, and you were the glue that held this league together.”
Donations are being accepted on behalf of the Taylor family. You can donate by visiting www.PayPal.me/LionheartSeries.
The #NailedIt150 can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 7:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, September 13.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, as well as the Lionheart Retro Series, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.
Remembering Patrick Taylor
Patrick Taylor, a fan favorite and invaluable admin member of the Lionheart Racing Series, died on Tuesday. His death was unexpected, the result of an unpredictable medical event over the weekend at his home in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, his family said.
For two years, Taylor was a fixture in Lionheart, running in the IndyCar, Retro and Challenge series. A member of Dragonfly Racing, Taylor quickly rose to become one of the most popular members in league history.
Every night Taylor’s friendly voice would welcome each member into the league chat. An optimist and kind soul, Taylor was the glue of the Lionheart family.
League founder Jorge Anzaldo grew especially close with Taylor as the duo worked on a remarkable project, the first ever Lionheart Yearbook. The hardcover, bound book was a labor of love, an idea sparked by Anzaldo but brought to life by Taylor, who remarkably helped write, design and edit a book with no formal journalism or design training, a true testament to his creativity and passion for the league and iRacing community.
“For nearly two years I talked to Patrick daily,” a heartbroken Anzaldo said. “Not just about league stuff. Patrick was just fun to talk to, and I looked forward to my conversations with him. I was looking forward to one day meeting him in person, and catching a real IndyCar race together.”
Taylor was recognized by the Lionheart community as its inaugural Dan Wheldon Driver of the Year in 2016. Named after the Lionheart himself, the award was given to the driver who best exemplified the spirit of the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion. The award was a complete surprise to Taylor, one the admin team kept secret from him until the ceremony following the 2016 season finale.
“The guy that I chose is always giving one hundred and twenty percent to the league,” series sponsor Brandon Limkemann said while making the announcement. “He’s always at the top of his game, always happy to help, always has a smile on his face it seems, I just can’t say enough about Patrick Taylor.”
The honor caught the jovial Taylor off guard.
“I guess this is a bad time to be speechless,” Taylor said while accepting the award. “Thank you very much. I appreciate it and I feel the same way Brandon does about the league, I’m honored to be a part of it. Getting to be part of the admin team is just an added bonus. Thank you, I’m very grateful for this and I appreciate it.”
The Lionheart community, known throughout iRacing not only for its talented group of sim racers, but for its camaraderie away from the computer, was still picking up the pieces Friday morning.
“Too often, when people die, we talk about how nice they were, what a good person they were; it becomes cliche,” league admin Jason Galvin said. “But in this case, it’s absolutely true. I felt like Patrick was one of my best friends from the beginning. Patrick Taylor is the type of person you hope your kids become. I’m distraught over this.”
Fellow league admin Pierre Daigle said the news devastated him.
“I’ve had no energy since I found out. I keep looking for a way this can’t be true, keep expecting him to message us,” said Daigle, who grew close with Taylor both as a fellow countryman and through his work as league historian. “I keep wanting to jump in teamspeak and hear his voice. He was truly special, the best.”
Former league champion and current race director Jesse Vincent offered his thoughts on the ability of iRacing to develop friendships like the one he shared with Taylor.
“Say what you want, but in today’s world, distance is no object when it comes to making friends. I don't have many friends here in Huntsville, Alabama, but lord knows I have many in other places,” Vincent said. “Patrick Taylor was a friend to anyone he spoke to. The embodiment of kindness, he always had a smile, never spoke bad of anyone, never made a joke at anyone's expense. I thought one time, if there was anyone I would just chill on a boat on a lake fishing with, he was probably the man for it. The world has lost one of its biggest hearts way too soon.”
Other league members offered memories through the iRacing forum:
“I'll never forget the first time I met Patrick,” Travis Jegerlehner said. “I joined the teamspeak channel for Lionheart and Patrick was one of the first people to say hello to me. He was a genuine person that I felt comfortable talking to immediately - the kind of thing you can't fake. He was one of the people who made me feel most welcome and at home in the league.”
“I have crossed paths with so many people in my life and I can tell you I really can’t think of anyone more kind and caring than Patrick Taylor,” teammate Brian Greenlee said. “He dedicated so much of his time to the league and I promise you that if you spent more than ten minutes talking with him, you found yourself smiling and laughing, as was his easy going nature.”
“I have been with the league since the beginning and witnessed how Patrick transformed the league into what it is today,” Vincent Bluthenthal said. “Whenever I would hear Patrick, he would remind me of an airline captain; someone calm and collected, he just made you feel comfortable. Patrick to me never sounded like he had bad days.”
Taylor’s best iRacing friend and Dragonfly founder, Robert Blouin, is making the six hour commute to attend Taylor’s services, scheduled for Monday morning. Blouin spoke with Taylor’s mother, who asked him to be a pallbearer. She told Blouin that her son loved Lionheart, talked about it often and thought highly of its members.
“There is a reason Patrick was the inaugural winner of the Driver of the Year award,” Blouin said. “His spirit, determination, personality and commitment to the league made us all want to be like him. Patrick never had a bad thing to say of anyone and was always willing to step up to help his teammates or competitors.
“No words can be said on how much he will be missed by all the drivers in the league.”
The Lionheart community is working on ways to continue Patrick’s legacy. It has already been announced that his number, 81, will be retired, effective immediately.
Anzaldo also announced the Driver of the Year award will be renamed; from now on, the driver who best exemplifies the spirit of Dan Wheldon on and off the track will earn the Patrick Taylor Driver of the Year award.
Drivers will also carry a special memorial sticker on their cars in each series to honor their friend.
“Those who knew Patrick through our league are truly blessed,” Anzaldo said, fighting tears. “Those that become part of Lionheart in the future will know of him; we’re going to do everything we can to make sure his memory lives on forever.
“I will truly miss our conversations. I’ll miss our love of IndyCar. I’ll miss all of the on-track battles on iRacing. I will miss my fellow league admin...and I will miss my friend. I will never forget you buddy.”
Patrick Taylor was 35.
To pay your respects or offer your condolences to Patrick, visit: http://members.iracing.com/jforum/posts/list/1075/3258331.page
It is a sad day in the Lionheart IndyCar / Retro Series as we have to say goodbye to a dear friend and teammate Patrick Taylor, Who was taken from us way too young, earlier this week in Kamloops BC.
Patrick’s spirit will remain with us as we continue this season in his honour as he will be missed, but NEVER forgotten.
There is a reason Patrick was the inagural winner of the Lionheart Series Driver of the Year Last Season. His spirit, determination, personality and commitment to the league made us all want to be like him.
Patrick never had a bad thing to say of anyone and was always willing to step up to help his teammates or competitors.
No words can be said on how much he will be missed by all the drivers in the league.
Our condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends on their loss.
In a season full of parody and close racing, there was little doubt who the dominant driver was on Wednesday night. Dan Geren led 80 laps from the pole to win the Utility Equipment Company 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his second win of the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by first Medical Equipment season.
“This race meant a lot for me tonight,” an emotional Geren said after the race. “I’m going to dedicate this to my mother-in-law who passed away from cancer earlier this year. Today would’ve been her sixty-first birthday. This one’s for her.”
Geren took the lead for good, passing newcomer Justin Weaver on a restart with 28 laps remaining, and held on until the final caution flew with three laps to go.
“I was very worried,” Geren said. “I haven’t raced (Weaver) very much; I know he’s a good driver, but I didn’t know if he could get to me.”
The win propelled Geren to within seven points of two-time defending series champion Jake Wright.
“Everybody kept it clean tonight,” Geren said. “It’s going to be a battle for Jake and I. I told him last year I was coming for him.”
Weaver was thrilled with the podium in his league debut, leading 38 laps with the help of solid strategy and proving he is a contender.
“I was just hoping to get a podium finish and just kinda ran my race, trying to stay out of trouble,” Weaver said. “Just tried to keep it between the lines and just made my way up there, and luckily the pit strategy played out for me and I was able to get up there.”
During a race where the prevailing strategy was to short-pit for tires and makeup time, Weaver chose instead to run his car on fumes, and it paid off. On lap 76, Adam Blocker crashed in turn three, bringing out the first caution of the event. Weaver and Patrick Taylor were the only two cars who had not made a stop, and cycled to the front of the pack, where they remained for most of the race.
Michael Goodman made a furious charge back through the field to finish third. It was a solid run for the ever-improving Goodman, who recruited Weaver to Lionheart.
“Everything lined up perfectly tonight, except the win,” Goodman said. “The strategy didn’t work out on the first stop, but I decided I was staying out and that’s all you can say. It worked.”
The second caution on lap 100 turned the race on its lid. Pierre Daigle, one of at least a dozen who had hit the pits, spun on the exit of turn two while trying to merge, bringing out the caution and trapping several cars a lap down.
Jason Galvin, Big Joe Hassert, Ryan Otis, Brian Yaczik, Chris Stofer and others who appeared set for a big night were all left trapped mid-pack for the remainder of the race.
Joe Branch used pit strategy to work from 21st to fourth, with James Krahula fifth and Wright sixth. Bob Mikes, Scott Bolster, Ron Hacker and Taylor rounded out the top ten.
The final caution ended the race when Ed Tutwiler ran into Pete Edwins on the front straight with two laps remaining. The duo were racing for 23rd at the time.
Wright and Geren distanced themselves from Andrew Kinsella, who finished 28th after issues on pit road. The Canadian is a full 100 points back of the points lead, after dominating the early parts of the season. Goodman moved up two spots to fourth, with Krahula fifth.
The Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment takes a week off before heading down under, for the RaceCentre 100 at Phillip Island. That race can be seen live on the Global SimRacing Channel at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 16.
For more information on the Lionheart IndyCar Series presented by First Medical Equipment, visit www.LionheartRacingSeries.com.