RANDY BERNARD, IndyCar CEO, is getting even closer to his goal of 19 races for the 2013 season. Hot on the heels of the announcement that it will run a street race in Houston Texas next year comes news that IndyCar will end its 2013 season with a long-awaited return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race will be the second weekend in October, a week after the Houston race.
The announcement was scheduled and still will be part of Media Day during next week’s open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but word leaked out early. Good news travels fast.
While details were not divulged, the Monterey race will be the season’s finale through the length of its contract.
GILL CAMPBELL, President/CEO of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, had said on previous occasions that having IndyCars return to the Monterey circuit has long been a high priority for S.C.R.A.M.P. – Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula, the organization which runs the track.
Open wheel indy cars have a long and storied history at the world-famous road course, with Championship Auto Racing Teams aka C.A.R.T running for 22 years, starting in 1983. TEO FABI/March-Cosworth won the first race. In 1984, BOBBY RAHAL won the first of four consecutive CART victories. Ten years later, MARIO ANDRETTI ran his last CART race and retired.
The series name changed in 2004 and it raced at Laguna as the Champ Car World Series before moving in 2005 to the streets of nearby San Jose for a three-year run. The last official CCWS event at Laguna was Spring Training in 2007.
Officially, the track record of 1:07.722 is held by HELIO CASTRONEVES/Team Penske, set at the 2000 CART race. There were two faster records set, but as they were not set during a race, they don’t officially qualify. RICARDO ZONTA/Toyota F1 test driver turned a 1:06.039 on 20 August 2006 during the Monterey Historics. Then, on 10 March 2007, during Spring Training – the latest unofficial CCWS lap record of 1:05:880 was set by SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/Newman Haas Racing.
Perhaps one of the most talked about CART race was in 1996 season finale, when what is now known as “The Pass” was made by ALEX ZANARDI/Ganassi Racing. He was chasing BRYAN HERTA in The Corkscrew, running wide in the dirt to complete the pass and go on to win the 1996 CART race, giving the Championship to JIMMY VASSER/Ganassi Racing of San Francisco.
With the running of IndyCar in 2013, Campbell said its fifty-sixth season will showcase more top world-class events than any other circuit.