SPLITTING HAIRS

Jack Hawksworth's Pole Star Mazda

Jack Hawksworth’s Pole Star Mazda

Rookie JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.82 Team Pelfrey has the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Star Mazda race, with a time of 1:21.631 It was 0.006 ahead of runnerup SAGE KARAM/No.88 Andretti Autosport at 1:21.637. This was the tenth pole of the season for young Hawksworth. Karam was the 2011 Star Mazda Rookie of the Year, and is part of Andretti Autosport’s far-reaching development/ladder series. Third fastest was Rookie PETRI SUVANTO, who is in the Star Mazda Series this year as the result of winning the 2011 USF2000 championship, which is part of the Mazda Road to Indy. Keep your eyes on these young lads.

Star Mazda has 21 entries, which includes twelve Rookies, and two drivers making their Star Mazda debut this weekend – LLOYD READ/No.16 JDC Motorsports and KYLE KAISER/No.18 World Speed Motorsports. Kaiser will start eighth, and Read will be P15.

The drivers come from seven countries: USA-7; Venezuela-4; Colombia-3; Canada-2; and one each from Chile, England and Finland.

ASHLEY FREIBERG/No.91 JDC Motorsports has backing from the TRUE Car program supporting female drivers. She starts sixteenth.

E.J. VISO

E.J. VISO

Two Rookie Venezuelan drivers run with Juncos Racing, with the help of Team Viso Venezuela. Yes, that Viso. IndyCar driver, E.J. VENEZUELA is committed to bringing along young Venezuela drivers up the Road to Indy open wheel ladder, in conjunction with the Mazda Road to Indy. They are BRUNO PALI/No.15 and DIEGO FERREIRA/No.57. Last month Pali tested an Indy Lights car at Putnam Park. Viso has been supporting Pali since his karting days.

Ferreira qualified sixth, and Pali will start thirteenth for their first race.

Viso, in his third year driving for KVRT in IndyCar, is considering starting his own team next year, and has been talking with Mexican team owner/driver, ADRIAN FERNANDEZ.

COOL HAND JOEY & SNOWY DUO

Track Speedometer SignIt’s been “unseasonably cool” at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, not the type of weather typical for the annual fall sports car race. This weekend is the ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron race, along with four support series – IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, Cooper Tires Prototype Lites, SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge, and Star Mazda Series.

All five series practice Friday morning, with qualifying in the afternoon for ALMS, IMSA GT3 and Prototype Lites.

ALMS had two hours of Testing Thursday, in cold foggy weather. The new ‘speedometer’ atop the track’s cross-over bridge shows the speed of the cars as they pass under and crest the Turn One hill. The fastest observed speed Thursday was 157 mph in ALMS. It’s hard to say which car it was, as the speed is recorded after the fact, as the cars goes out of sight.

Although it’s not usual for Test times, ALMS did post a sheet Friday morning for the Thursday session. The fastest drivers in each class were: P1 and overall-KLAUS GRAF/No.6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing AMR /Lola Coupe B08 62 at 1:16.293/105.603 mph. P2-CHRISTOPHE BOUCHUT/No.055 Level 5 Motorsports Lola Honda – only car in the class this weekend; PC-RICARDO GONZALES/No.06 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09; GT points leader JOEY HAND/No.56 BMW Tam RLL BMW E92 M3; GTC-MARTIN RAGGINER/No.30 NGT Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, a last minute substitution Thursday, replacing SEAN EDWARDS; and the UNC leader and only car in the class RICHARD LIETZ/No.911 Porsche Motorsports North America Porsche GT3R Hybrid.

The family that plays together stays together. In the IMSA GT3 field of 38 cars, there is a Mother and Son duo. MELANI SNOW/No.56 Snow Racing Platinum 2011 has been racing for years, but has not raced at Laguna Seca since 2009. The Platinum class is for 2010 and 2011 Porsches and has 25 drivers.

Melanie & Madison Snow

Melanie & Madison Snow


Son MADISON SNOW is racing No.62 Snow Racing Gold 2008. According to the driver and the Porsche representative, fifteen-year old Madison is the youngest Pro Series Porsche driver in the world. He is a Rookie and leading the Gold class points, ahead of 12 other drivers. Madison came to the IMSA GT3 Series from Go-Karts, which he has raced for a long time and a few Skip Barber Mazda races at his home track, Miller Motorsports Park in Utah – the only circuit this IMSA season on which he’s raced. All the other IMSA circuits on the 2011 schedule, including Laguna Seca, are new to him. Madison has spent a lot of time on video games learning the new tracks..

Madison likes the famed Corkscrew, says it’s fun, but thinks maybe it has too much hype. Overall he really likes Laguna Seca He said Thursday it was hard because the wind was blowing sand onto the track, and he had to adjust for that.

With school approval, Madison has skipped classes this week. He turns sixteen on 26 December 2011.

FOGGY TESTING AND BUSY DRIVERS

Scott Tucker Prototype Lites

Scott Tucker Prototype Lites. Photo by Lynne Huntting

Thursday was a full-schedule Test Day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the ModSpace American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patron. That’s a mouth full. The track was busy 9am to 7:30pm, with ALMS not being on track until late afternoon and evening.

As it’s a test day no times are being published. The support series have two sessions each, one in the morning and one in afternoon. ALMS takes the track late afternoon and into the night.

After the typical late morning fog burned off, it was a beautiful September four hours, with blue skies, gentle breezes and warm sunshine, better weather than had been predicted. Then fog rolled back in mid-afternoon, the breeze picked up, and the temperatures dropped.

The American Le Mans Series is the featured event, with four other support series racing during the three-day weekend. ALMS has a six-hour endurance Saturday afternoon and evening. Other series racing this weekend are Cooper Tire Prototype Lites Championship and IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, sanctioned by IMSA; the SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge presented by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine; and Star Mazda, sanctioned by IndyCar.

ALMS has 36 cars in the seven classes, down three cars from the advance Entry List. The ALMS class breakdown is LMP1=5; LMP2=1; GT=13; UNC=1; LMPC=7 and GTC=9. Missing this weekend will be the two Robertson Racing Doran Ford Elan Power GT cars, and the Porsche Napleton Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the GTC category. They all run selected races. Robertson has a Pro Car and an Amateur car. One of the Pro drivers, ANTHONY LAZZARO of GA is running No.33 Prototype Lites 1 for Ferrari of Houston. The Napleton team also is involved with the (Porsche Cayman) Intercontinental Trophy Cup Series in its inaugural season.

ALMS is an international series, with 28 drivers from foreign countries – Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

The Prototypes Lites series has 17 cars, with 17 in the Lites 1 Group and six in the Lites 2 category. The majority of drivers in this group are American, with three from Canada and one each from Ireland and Puerto Rico.

IMSA GT3 has 38 spread among its two classes – Platinum Cup=26 and Gold Cup=13. This series has mostly American drivers, with two from Canada and one each from Colombia and Venezuela.

Patrick Long WC Car

Patrick Long World Challenge Car. Photo by Mark Weber


SCCA World Challenge has a field of 36 cars, in three categories: Grand Touring=15; Grand Touring Sport=10; and Touring Car=11. Included in the group of mostly American drivers are two Canadians.

Star Mazda has 16 cars, with two categories – Expert Series Competitors and Team Championship Drivers. The joke in this crowd is that the Experts are the drivers old enough to rent a car. The Mazda drivers come from the US and six foreign countries – Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Ireland and Venezuela. Seven are rookies. Mazda has partnered with IndyCar and the Star Mazda Series is part of the Mazda Road to Indy.

I haven’t cross referenced all the Entry Lists yet, but there are several drivers and/or teams running more than one series this weekend.

SCOTT TUCKER of KS is going for over-achiever of the weekend, running three races, all on Saturday. Not only is his Level 5 Motorsports LMP2 Lola Honda making its debut this weekend with co-drivers LUIS DIAS of Mexico City and CHRISTOPHE BOUCHUT of France, Tucker will run solo in two other races – Prototype Lites in No.5 Level 5 Motorsport Lites 2, and IMSA GT3 Cup No.55 for Kelly Moss Motorsports.

Tucker is leading ALMS LMP2 Driver standings with co-driver Bouchet with 71 points each, and his other co-driver, Dias, is second in the standings with 55 points, sharing with RYAN HUNTER-REAY of FL. This weekend the team is only running the one new Honda Performance Development ARX–01g. In the other two series, Tucker is eighth in both IMSA GT3 Gold and Prototypes Lites 2.

PATRICK LONG of FL is racing a Porsche 911 GT3 in both ALMS GT with Flying Lizards Motorsports and in SCCA World Challenge. His number happens to be 45 in both series. Long is leading the World Challenge GT Driver standings, with 1152 points, 115 points ahead of JAMES SOPRANOS of CA, racing No.14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche GT3. In ALMS, the 2010 GT Champion is tied for fifth with his 2010 and 2011 co-driver, JORG BERGMEISTER of Germany.

TRG, which considers Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as one of its two home tracks, is racing cars in two series with different drivers. In the ALMS GTC category, the team is fielding two Porsche 911 GT3 cars: DUNAN ENDE of CA and SPENCER PUMPELLY of GA, with PETER LUDWIG in No.66 and DION von Moltke of FL, EMILIO di GUIDA of Venezuela and Team Owner, KEVIN BUCKLER of CA. Dr. JIM NORMAN of FL is running No.11 in the IMSA GT3 series, as is CARLOS GOMEZ of Columbia. Ende and Pumpelly were leading the GTC points until last weekend’s race in Baltimore, where they had ‘adversity.’

TRG is also running ANDY LALLY in this weekend’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Race at Chicagoland. He is the top Rookie in the Series, and is in the top 35 of the Owner Points, which guarantees him a spot on the grid.

There are no TRG cars at the NASCAR Grand-Am race this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Friday’s schedule calls for Practice for all series, and Qualifying for all the IMSA-sanctioned Series – ALMS, IMSA GT3 and Prototypes Lites. SCCA qualifies Saturday morning at oh dark thirty, and Star Mazda ditto for Sunday morning.