Wednesday was a beautiful spring day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the American Le Mans Series Monterey Presented by Patron weekend. Once the morning fog lifted and was blown away by the crisp ocean breeze, it was clear skies and sun all day. The ambient temperature was in the high sixties, while the track temperature was in the seventies in the morning and nineties in the afternoon – as per a Pirelli tire engineer.
ALMS is the feature race this weekend, with a six-hour endurance race Saturday afternoon and into the dusk. The other series are SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge and Playboy Mazda MX5 Cup, IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, and Cooper Tires Prototypes Lites.
All but ALMS tested Wednesday, and as it’s unofficial, no times were given. There were a few Red Flags to tow cars who ran into trouble – mostly self-inflicted. But, there were no injuries to drivers, and mostly minimal to cars. Once in awhile I would look at the trick radar sign on the Start-Finish bridge, and the highest speed I saw was 132 mph. Wait until tomorrow.
The big news Wednesday was the late entry of Dempsey Racing … as in that Dempsey – actor and race car driver/owner, PATRICK DEMPSEY aka Dr. McDreamy on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dempsey, along with long-time co-driver and mentor, JOE FOSTER of Georgia and co-driver JONNY COCKER from the UK, will debut No.27 Lola B12/87 with a Judd BMW V8 engine, running Michelin Tires and using E-10 fuel.
The ALMS Trina Solar/GNC Beverages/Motel Racing car will run in the P2 category, bringing that field up to five cars.
The last-minute decision to run the race at Laguna Seca came after a three-day test-shakedown session last weekend at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Dempsey had his first run in the car last Friday. “This race will really be a continuation of our learning and testing process, only this time in front of a bigger crowd.”
Dempsey has been running GT cars in the rival sports car series, NASCAR’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. His ALMS plan include a partial 2012 season, a full 2013 season and then The 24 Hours of Le Mans. All will be revealed Friday in a press conference.
Dempsey racing will also be running another car in the Saturday ALMS race. In the PC class, the team will run No.25 Oreca FLM09 with a Chevrolet engine. Michelin Tires and E-10 fuel. Every car in the PC class runs the same car, engine, tire and fuel.
The support series continue practice and qualifying on Thursday and ALMS has late afternoon/dusk testing.