Why ‘older brother’ Taylor Mackenzie is the ideal modern boss for new Moto3 team

Taylor Mackenzie says his racing lineage, recent experience on track and his grasp of modern-day pressures make him ideal VisionTrack Honda Moto3 manager

Taylor Mackenzie

When Taylor Mackenzie swaps his leathers for ear-defenders and a serious thinking face while watching pit box TV screens next year as part of his new role as manager for the ambitious VisionTrack Honda Racing Team debuting in the 2022 Moto3 World Championship, he will be little more than a decade older the riders he’ll guard.

However, it is this quick hop, skip and jump from elbows out racing to arms folded management that the 28-year old believes will be to his advantage when he joins esteemed ex-racer-turned-manager ranks that include the likes of Jorge Martinez, Peter Ottl and Aki Ajo.

If it is a daunting prospect for Mackenzie - older brother to new BSB champion Tarran Mackenzie and son of ex-GP racer Niall - then he doesn’t show it as he morphs from a successful National Superstock 1000 Championship winning rider into heading up the day-to-day running of a Moto3 team founded by Michael Laverty with the express aim of giving burgeoning British talents a chance to show their skills on the global stage.

Indeed, the VisionTrack Honda effort is one British up-and-comers have been crying out for for some time.

In the year the UK has only three full-time British representatives in the Grand Prix paddock - with not one in MotoGP - amid a sea of Spaniards and Italians that have benefitted from years of grassroots investment, Laverty’s move to create an all-British team is a significant rung on the ladder for the youngsters.

Indeed, while Mackenzie and his brother are bright products of the British domestic scene, its leaning towards a production-formula of racing whittles the peak of what would-be GP racers can scale in a UK context without having to place themselves amongst riders in a foreign land that have already had a couple years head-start showing off in front of talent scouts.

The importance of having a bonafide British-minded team on a World Championship stage is not lost on Mackenzie.

“I think this team will be incredibly important,” he told Visordown in an exclusive interview. “We have had very good racers but a missing link between getting them from the British championships to the world championships. 

“There have been riders in the past but they have had to go through Spanish academies or Dorna backed things, so now we have a stepping stone from British to World Championships. 

“Riders will be looked at, if they are good enough they will get the chance to race in the World Championship and I think that is an amazing thing, we are very lucky to put this together.”

While the short gap between Mackenzie confirming his retirement from racing and being announced in his new managerial role appears to suggest one impacted the other, he says the only connection was a chance conversation with Neil Hodgson that unfurled into a bigger one with Laverty.

“Michael said ‘I don’t want to be the reason you retire’ and I said I was 100% retiring anyway. 

“I [had] mentioned to Neil Hodgson that I was going to retire and he told me ‘Michael Laverty might be setting a team up, let me get in touch with him’. 

“I was going to retire anyway and we got it sorted afterwards. I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do but the closer I got to retirement, the closer it was that I would do this. I really liked the idea of being involved in racing, helping younger riders

“At the end of the day, I couldn’t walk away from the racing world and I didn’t think an opportunity like this would come my way again so the stars have aligned. Freak timing but an amazing opportunity.”

A new manager for a new media world

Arguably one of the more interesting facets of Mackenzie’s status as a ‘next generation’ manager is his awareness and understanding of new media and the internet,  a skill set unlikely to be exhibited by the likes of the aforementioned Martinez, Oettl or Ajo.

Indeed, beyond his exploits on track, Mackenzie developed a reputation for harnessing the internet for myriad reasons, be it crowdfunding his budget for racing, adopting a tongue-in-cheek updating fans on social media… or simply taking the piss out of Tarran (for example…CLICK HERE).

“It’s not just racing [now] but social media, the whole world of the internet has a different impact. We have to go racing differently to 30 years ago when it was cigarette money, so I have a good understanding of all those aspects, so I am hoping a combination of me understanding it and working in it for many years [will help].

Ogden, Whatley join the Mackenzie family

Despite his managerial inexperience, Mackenzie is unphased by the gravitas of the role, pointing out he has spent his life either watching his father Niall compete, or overseeing his brother Tarran’s progress. 

With this in mind, and perhaps motivated by not having reached 30-years old as yet, Mackenzie believes he can adopt a ‘big brother’ role to riders Scott Ogden (17) and Josh Whatley (15). 

“I never envisaged seeing myself in a team manager role so I am really looking forward to this next chapter, I have no idea where it will go but I really like the idea of helping younger riders, I’ve had hands on experience with it, I’ve lived the highs and lows of racing and I want to pass that experience on.

“I feel like I am a current racer which not many can offer, I feel I have a mix of understanding about how the racing world works, I have seen it from my Dad’s era right through to the modern era.

“I have my Dad’s racing experience and my brother’s, so the main ethos behind my management style is that I have the rider’s best interests at heart. 

“I have been in teams where that hasn’t been the case and that hasn’t been a nice feeling for anyone, so I see myself as more of an older brother to the lads racing next year.”

All that remains is for Mackenzie to spend the winter toning down the customary pearly smile that has graced BSB paddocks for years into a stern, poker face. Best get practicing.