Pro Driver Jordan Taylor Jumps Behind the Wheel of "Le Monstre"

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Written by Ed Higginbotham

 

Being a pro driver can open doors to experience some truly incredible equipment, and winning an IMSA championship for Cadillac this past year landed Jordan Taylor an unforgettable ride.

Last week, Jordan—2017 IMSA championship-winning driver of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R—jumped behind the wheel of a slightly older Cadillac racer: the oddly shaped 1950 Series 61. This Cadillac, known as “Le Monstre,” arrived courtesy of the historic Collier Collection at the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida. But this wasn’t just a pace lap—Jordan was able to take it for a brisk run around Daytona International Speedway’s road course at speeds up to about 90 mph.

A Little History

As Le Mans rules of the day permitted rebodying of standard automobiles, team leader Briggs Cunningham started cooking up a plan to conquer the 24-hour race. His search for cars culminated in the purchase of two Cadillac Series 61 Coupe deVilles. Now he just had to prepare them for the 1950 French enduro. With straight-line speed in mind—remember, they didn’t have chicanes breaking up the 3.7-mile Mulsanne Straight back then—Briggs formed this long, aluminum streamliner body. It represented an early Jet Age effort to reduce both weight and drag.

He also decided to hedge his two-Cadillac bet for Le Mans, and left the other car—the one sitting on the far right in the photo above—wearing its original body. Despite an early trip to the pea gravel, the Le Monstre finished in an impressive 11th place. Fans at the French endurance classic were fascinated by the unusual appearance of the Cadillac, and it entered the history books as a legend.

Behind the Wheel

Getting the chance to drive a car that raced in the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours was super exciting,” Taylor said. “The car’s caretakers were giving me the download on the car a few hours prior to our drive on the track. I was trying to ask as many questions beforehand to be as prepared as possible.

Once we got rolling, I almost had a moment as soon as we left the pits… I almost drove into the side of the ATS-V—a Championship Edition car on hand for the photo shoot. Besides trying to learn a three-speed column shift, I had to rotate the steering wheel past 90 degrees to get it to turn. Combine that with the car weighing 3,700 pounds on skinny tires—it was a handful. The guys from the Collier Collection didn’t have any hesitation about the speeds we were going. It was amazing!

On the first lap going into the Bus Stop, I went for the brake, and I am not sure I’ve ever driven anything with full drum brakes before. When I got up high onto the banking [during the photo shoot], I looked left at the DPi-V.R on the inside and felt like I was going to fall out of the car. The relative lack of safety back then, and lack of support around the driver were crazy feelings. You don’t get the sensation of how steep the Daytona banking is in the Cadillac DPi-V.R at over 170 mph. I couldn’t imagine what it was like doing over 130 mph down Mulsanne lap after lap for 24 hours. It was a great experience to be able to drive a car with such a great Cadillac history.”

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