UNSUNG HEROES

TURN 12

There are more than 300 SCCA volunteer race marshals and officials working the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Many of them have worked many of these events dating back to the F5000 and F1 days – an annual trek. They come from SCCA Regions up and down the West Coast, from across the country, and from abroad. Such is the lure of The Beach. They all pay their own way, buy their uniforms, and work long hours in a variety of specialties. Their day starts before sunrise four days in a row, and with the late night Drifting Demonstrations, some work until 10pm. All for the love of the sport.

Thank you one and all!

Bill Galey

SCCA Marshals

SCCA Pit Lane Marshals

Fire Safety Marshal

Peter West Ambulance Marshal

Pit Lane Marshals

Cal Club Tow Truck

PENSKE POWER

Will Power

The times were faster by far in the second practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Ultimately, last year’s champion, Will Power/No.1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was the fastest. His time was 1:07.5485, and unofficially nearly three-tenths faster than last year’s record of 1:07.8219 set last year by Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Honda.

Second through sixth were Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet; Helio Castroneves/No.3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet; Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet; Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Verizon Team Penske, and Josef Newgarden/No.67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet.

Graham Rahal

Will Power

Simon Pagenaud

Little bit of a pattern there. All four of the Penske drivers in the top five, and the top six cars were Chevrolets.

The top Honda, in seventh place, was Graham Rahal/No.15 Steak n’ Shake Honda; or, as he put it “the best of the rest.”

Among the other fastest drivers during the 45-minute session were Newgarden, Charlie Kimball/No.83 Novo Norodisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, and Dixon.

Again, Stefan Coletti/No.4 KV Racing technology Chevrolet was the top Rookie, in fifteenth place.

Seventeen of the 23 drivers were faster than the fastest lap set in the first session by Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet – 1:08.6458; and all but one were faster then they were in the first session. Eighteenth fastest driver, Kimball, turned the exact time as did Dixon in the morning session. The Friday combined practice times were the same as the second session.

Friday, IndyCar announced some Aero Kit modifications effective this weekend: Chevrolet to add a tether to the winglets, or remove the winglets, from its front wing assembly; and Honda to implement additional reinforcements to its rear wheel guards.

IndyCar said it will continue to be proactive in its review of aero kit performance, as part of its commitment to deliver an entertaining on-track product through the season. The first step was last week with mandated structural upgrades. IndyCar will continue the process as the season progresses, and opportunities for improvements are identified.

The new IndyCar aerodynamic bodywork kits, aka Aero Kits, were a topic of discussion – serious and humorous. One definition of pundit is “a person who offers to mass media his opinion or commentary on a particular subject area” and that fitted Power and Rahal during the post-practice media conference. Their witty comments and ripostes on various subjects such as manufacturer rivalry, driving skills, and especially the aero kits amused the media. I hope someone got a good transcript.

Power said it was “no big deal not to have the rabbit ears on his Penske. Little bit more front wing, and that’s it. The aero kits give us little gains on tracks like this. It makes things a bit faster everywhere. Qualifying will be tight, on reds (Bridgestone option tires,) but it could be doable to break the track record.”

Power saw it “as a positive that IndyCar is making adjustments to the aero kits.” Rahal said “Fan and driver safety is important. We need to make it stronger so it doesn’t just fall off.” Pagenaud said “It’s important and needs to be fair to both manufacturers. Rahal added “And so it’s not a huge cost to the teams … even the big teams like Penske.”

Rahal’s team repaired his morning gear box problem, making the second session more to his liking. On the apparent Chevrolet domination, Rahal said “The (Honda) guys are working hard on it, and I guess we’ll just have to work harder.”

Rookie Rocky Moran, Jr/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda was the only driver who failed to go faster in the second session. The Red Flag came out mid-way through the session, when he and Carlos Munoz/No.26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda spun. Munoz continued, but Moran backed into the concrete barrier. He got out and walked to the Response Vehicle, while his car was towed away.

Kimball kissed the left side of his car on a concrete barrier and pitted to have his left rear tire checked/replaced. Rahal appeared to have repeated Kimball’s mishap, but kept on going with no problems. He admitted later he “ate Turn Eight.”

Carlos Munoz

Charlie Kimball

Francesco Dracone

Having the dubious distinction of being last in both sessions was Rookie Francesco Dracone of Italy, driving No.19 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. His new-for-the weekend teammate, Rocky Moran, Jr. was twenty-second of the 23 drivers.

The late afternoon weather was still warm, mid-seventies, but the breeze also went stronger, up to 20 mph.

Saturday IndyCar has its final practice at 10am PDT, followed by qualifying at 2pm PDT.

41 … BUT WHO’S COUNTING

Welcome LBGP

This weekend marks the forty-first running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, long considered the grandfather of American street races. The event started out with a FIA qualifying F5000 race and then moved to Formula One. Thirty-two years ago indycars began, under various banners … CART, Champ Car and now IndyCar.

The schedule, as always, is full with something for most everyone. In addition to the Verizon IndyCars, also racing this three-day weekend are the IMSA sanctioned TUDOR Championship Series, SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge Series, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series, ToyotaPro/Celebrity Race, KMC Wheels Super Drift Drift Challenge Series, and Robby Gordon’s SPEED Energy Off-Road Series.

Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon, along with Bryan Herta, was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame Thursday. This is the tenth year of honoring those who have made legendary contributions to the sport. Gordon has raced in four different series at Long Beach – IndyCar, Indy Lights Trans-Am, and last year for debut of the Formula Off Road Series. At Long Beach, he won in Indy Lights, Trans-Am and Off-Road, and finished third in IndyCar. In two more – different – series away from Long Beach, Gordon has won three victories each in NASCAR and the Baja 1000 Off Road race.

Herta has raced IndyCars and Indy Lights at Long Beach, winning the 1993 Lights Championship. He ran five Indianapolis 500 races, coming in third in 2005. As an IndyCar team owner, Herta’s driver, the late Dan Wheldon, won the 100th Anniversary running of the Indy 500.

Twenty-three drivers are entered for the Long Beach IndyCar race, with some new faces after the first two races of the season – at St. Petersburg and New Orleans.

Rocky Moran Jr of Pasadena CA is replacing Carlos Huertas in No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda. Huertas raced the first two races with Dale Coyne Racing. That announcement came Friday morning. Little was known about the change, other than a Tweet by Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star, saying that “Coyne told me that Huertas is a possibility for the Indianapolis 500. Carlos isn’t racing here ‘for business reasons.’

Sebastian Saavedra of Colombia is making his first appearance this year, driving No.8 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. Rookie Sage Karam, Ganassi’s development driver, raced the car in the first two races this year, and will race again at the Barber race, the Indianapolis 500 and all the remaining race until the season’s finale at Sonoma Raceway in August. Karam is the 2014 Indy Lights Champion.

Missing this weekend is Simona de Silvestro of Switzerland, who had raced the first two races in No.25 Andretti Autosport Honda, finishing fourth at New Orleans and eighteenth at St. Pete. She is expected back for the Indianapolis 500.

Empty IndyCar Tech

In the IndyCar paddock all the teams were beavering away while their drivers and Crew Chiefs were at the obligatory morning meeting. All the IndyCars had gone through the IndyCar scrutineering process on Thursday, so Friday the Tech Crew were “just sitting and looking pretty.” During the weekend, sometimes after on-track sessions, the teams will bring back a car to be checked. Otherwise, it’s all good.

The first IndyCar practice is 12:30pm PDT, with the second session at 3:45pm local time. Each session is 45 minutes.

LAST LAP HARD RACING

Ed Brown & Johannes van Overbeek

Ed Brown & Johannes van Overbeek. Photo courtesy Extreme Speed Motorsports

Polesitter JOHANNES van OVERBEEK/No.2 Extreme Speed Motorsports won a hard-fought the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a neck and neck battle for the last fifteen minutes with runner-up JORDAN TAYLOR/No.10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet. The Margin of Victory was 5.833 seconds. Overbeek said “I’m trying to absorb it all, my first overall win. Thanks to Ed for putting us where we needed to be.”

Van Overbeek co-drives with Team Owner, ED BROWN, who also is CEO of Patron, and it was their first TUDOR Class win. Brown said “It was intimidating out there. I started having fun out there by the second lap.”

Jordan drives with his brother RICKY. Third was SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP Ford, co-driving with MEMO ROJAS.

Fox Sports Move of the Race went to van Overbeek passing Taylor in Turn Four for the lead in the waning race laps. Taylor said he was saving fuel, the only Prototype doing so. Taylor struggled to get through debris in Turn Two. “I felt something on the tires and it kind of messed me up from turn two to three and that’s where he got me.”

Antonio Garcia & Jan Magnussen

Antonio Garcia & Jan Magnussen

It was also spirited, competitive racing with lots of drama in the GTLM class with lead changes, aggressive driving and some penalties. GTLM Pole Sitter ANTONIO GARCIA/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Chevrolet/Michelin took the victory by 4.710 seconds ahead of BILL AUBERLEN/No.55 BMW RLL BMW Z4 GTE BMW/Michelin, who was battling NICK TANDY/No.911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche/Michelin. Auberlen dove under Tandy in Turn Eleven on the last lap to grab runner-up. Those results were announced as provisional at the time, pending Steward’s review.

Immediately after the race, Tandy said “I’m happy enough for the podium (as third) but now I know how I will be driving from now on.”

Tommy Kendall

Tommy Kendall

This year IMSA has Driver Stewards who are in Race Control with IMSA Race Officials. After an incident, these Stewards immediately review the situation, using TV monitors, landline calls, etc. Their input is provided to PAUL WALTER, IMSA Race Director, who makes the call, literally and/or figuratively. For the Laguna Seca race the Driver Stewards were ELLIOT FORBES-ROBINSON and TOMMY KENDALL. While this is Kendall’s first time in the role, EFR has been doing it all season so far. Kendall said the positions will probably be held by several drivers in some kind of rotation, a la F1. As per Kendall, other drivers in the role so far include JOHNNY UNSER.

Some time after the race, Walter came to the Media Center to advise that there were post-race official penalties for the unofficial results, apologizing for the lateness of the announcement. “We have an extensive review process, including bringing in team members from No.55 and No.911, reviewing video, etc. The No.911 was assessed a sixty-second penalty for on-track incident – which is not the same as avoidable contact, which gets a 55-second penalty. If the incident had happened earlier in the race, the penalty would have been assessed during the race. The penalty means GIANCARLO FISICHELLA and PIERRE KAFFER/No.62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia Ferrari move up to third finishing position, and the No.911 moves down to ninth in class.”

Regarding the last lap, Walter said “We had insufficient evidence to assess responsibility.”

Penalty Box

Penalties assessed during the race: No.90 P/Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP assessed a 55-second drive through for the incident in Turn Five with ALEX BRUNDLE/No.42 P/OAK Racing Morgan Nissan. Later Brundle was assessed a 55-second drive through for the incident in the Corkscrew when he dive-bombed into No.5 Action Express Corvette DP which then hit JOEL MILLER/No.07 SpeedSource Mazda DP, causing a minor melee. Miller retired as a result.

After Walter’s visit, the top two finishing GTLM teams came to the Media Center – the Corvette and the BMW.

Garcia said – “The C7.R was perfect. It was all about saving tires after I got by the Ferrari. It was a good call on the pits just to do one stop. I knew I had to run those tires for half an hour, so I decided just to give up a little bit of pressure on them and just start saving tires as best I could. Then with 20 minutes to go I could use the tires I had saved. I’m happy to get the back to back win with the C7R in the end.”

Auberlen said “”Our strategy was to do two stops, knowing every one else would do one. We knew we’d have much fresher tires and would make up the deficit. On the last lap we (Tandy and Auberlen) were side by side going into Turn Eleven. Walter always says leave a lane for racing. I was on the outside, but he moved on me twice. Anyone who knows me and has raced against me all these years will tell you I race clean, but when I try to pass another car on the outside of 11 and they slam the door and then do it again on the next lap I am really unhappy.”

The fastest drivers in the race were Brundle in the Prototypes at a record-breaking 1:19.747. Auberlen was fastest in GTLM, at 2:23.725, also a new record.

All cars in each race cleared scrutineering and there were no issues.

KATHERINE LEGGE/No.0 DeltaWing Racing Cars DeltaWing DWC13 Elan started the race from the Pit Lane for missing the Recon Lap, and then served a drive-through penalty for the Pit Lane race start. She drove until the driver change. After handing the car off to co-driver, ANDY MEYERICK, the car developed transmission problems and retired, credited with a P20 overall finish, ninth in class.

The weather was a bit warmer for the second TUDOR Championship race, at 62F ambient and 85F track.

The action was equally or more so frenetic at the start of the race. The top two cars raced the first 11 laps, tooth and nail as though they were going for the checkered flag. It was highly intense, nose to tail, side by side, anything. MICHAEL VALIANTE/No.90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette got past the pole car, and was then joined by GUSTAVO YACAMAN/No.42 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan. It was riveting until CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI/No.5 Action Express Corvette got past Yacaman, and Valiante stretched his lead. Meanwhile Brown felt a vibration, and made an early pit stop/driver change to Overbeek.

Sunday’s TUDOR Championship P & GTLM race was caution-free, as was the morning PC & GTD race – first time this has happened since ???? No one can think back that far.

GILL CAMPBELL, President/CEO of SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula) was most pleased with the fan turnout, saying that there were higher numbers this weekend than the combined total of last year’s ALMS and Grand-Am races.

D STANDS FOR DRAMA

Paddock Crowd

RENGER van de ZANDE/NO.8 PC Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet/Continental won the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race Sunday morning as the first feature race in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. His happy teammate was MARCO SCHULTIS. It was their first class win. It definitely was a sprint race, flat out the whole two hours.

Renger Van der Zande

Renger Van der Zande

Mirco Schultis

Mirco Schultis

Van de Zande said “We had a really good pit stop, taking only two right side tires and fuel – a bold move but one has to take risks. It was slippery, with the car sliding around. We were conserving on everything.” About his race, he joked “It was hard work at the office today.” Schultis said “Winning is nice.”

The drama was all with the GTD finish, with an unexpected finish in the hotly contested class, with DANE CAMERON/No.94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 when he took the lead coming down the hill to Turn Eleven when the then-leader, SPENCER PUMPELLY/No.45 Flying Lizards Audi ran out of fuel coming out of the Corkscrew.

Dane Cameron

Dane Cameron

Markus Paltala

Markus Paltala

Spencer Pumpelly

Spencer Pumpelly

Cameron said “I was fine on fuel, no concern. Just saving the tires. They were more now on a stint. I capitalized when it counted. They don’t tell me anything. All I knew I was racing the 48. At the Corkscrew they started yelling get it on, get it on. But whether Spencer was going to finish was out of our control. And I knew he was too far ahead that I wasn’t going to catch him on pace. So I knew I just had to maintain the position and make sure there was no way the 48 Audi was going to get around us. Fortunately I was able to keep him at bay.”

No.45 GTD

No.45 GTD

Pumpelly said he had full pickup problems and knew he was in trouble. Cameron was still racing hard with the No.48 car, and later thanked Pumpelly for not impeding their race by getting out of the way while he coasted down the track to a slow stop on the front straight, in full view but short of the checkered flag.

Fun Fact: BMW reports that BMW’s win today was the exactly 11,111 days from the first BMW DTM win.

Second overall and in the PC class was SEAN RAYHALL/No.25 8Star Motorsports with co-driver LUIS DIAZ, with third place going to BRUNO JUNQUEIRA/No.09 RSR Racing, driving with DUNCAN ENDE. All cars in this class are the same chassis, engine and tire.

Second in the GTD class and ninth overall were CHRISTOPHER HAASE/No.48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche Audi R8LMS Audi with BRYCE MILLER. JOHN POTTER/No.44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America Porsche was third, with ANDY LALLY.

COLIN BRAUN/No.54 PC Core Autosport ORECA FLM09, who finished seventh overall and inn class, turned the fastest race lap, a new track record, at 1:21.229.

DION von MOLTKE/No.34 Flying Lizards Motorsports Audi R8 LMS was the fastest GTD driver, also setting a new track record.

The weather was a sunny and a reportedly cool 55 degreesF, with track temperature 62F. PATRICK DEMPSEY/No.27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America brought out the first caution on Lap One. He spun into the gravel at Turn Eight. With help he got back to pits and continued on. He drove until the driver change with ANDREW DAVIS, fuel and four tires. Dempsey was disappointed – with the spin and the car not yet to liking. They finished twentieth in class, twenty-seventh overall.

HENRIQUE CISNEROS/No.30 MOMO/NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 drove the first stint, before handing off to co-driver KUBA GIERMAZIAK. They finished twelfth in class/nineteenth overall. As with most of the driver changes, four tires and fuel were taken, many occurring during cautions. Cisneros and his Motorsport Safety Foundation garbed the IMSA Pit Note Volunteers in fire protection gear for today’s race.

The Penalty Box had some visitors: JEROEN BLEEKEMOLEN/No.33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R Viper V 10 was penalized for avoidable contact with JAMES DAVISON/No.007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage on the first lap. DILLON MACHAVERN/No.18 GTD Muehiner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America Porsche-35 seconds.

The highest Turn One radar gun speed I observed was 140 mph.

Two of the thirty-two cars retired, one from each class. Four cars finished on the lead lap of the 73-lap race. In the GTD class, which ran four laps down, seven were on their lead lap. Three drivers led four times. Ende led twice, for 24 laps, Rayhall led once for 37 laps, and the winner led the last 21 laps of the 82-lap race.

The next race for this group is 21 May 2014.

RIDING TO THE POLE

Antonio Garcia

JOHANNES van OVERBEEK/No.2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b is on pole for Sunday afternoon’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. His lap was 1:18.970. Van Overbeck was also fastest in the second Tudor Championship practice session just prior to qualifying.

He said “The long fast corners definitely suit this style of car, we’re still not nearly as fast on the straightaway but we make it up in other places. I think with that it will make a very interesting race tomorrow.”

Van Overbeek, from nearby Oakland, has an annual tradition of bike riding to the track for the race. This year he took a circuitous route from San Jose, through the hills of Morgan Hill, Mount Madonna, Elkhorn Slough, Castroville and onto the track. He had a gang, including five of his ESM crew, two from his former Flying Lizards crew, and some friends. It must have done the trick.

All four class pole sitters set new qualifying track records.

Johannes van Overbeek

Johannes van Overbeek

Van Overbeek didn’t think traffic would be too much of a problem with the GTLM cars in Sunday’s two-hour race. The two groups race well together.

The Prototype class fairly growled as they accelerated out of the Pit Lane onto the 2.238-mile road course. The temperature was a brisk 63 degrees.

Second and third in the Prototypes were RICHARD WESTBROOK/No.90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP Chevrolet with co-driver MICHAEL VALIENTE, and RYAN DALZIEL/No.1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b, teamed with SCOTT SHARP, who led early on.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA/No.09 RSR Racing ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet/Continental took pole for the PC class. His lap was 1:19.723. His co-driver is DUNCAN ENDE. Second and third fastest in class were MICRO SCHULTIS & RENGER van der ZANDE/No.8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet and LUIS DIAZ & SEAN RAYHALL/No.25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet.

Antonio Garcia

Antonio Garcia

ANTONIO GARCIA/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7 R/Michelin has the pole for the GT Le Mans class, turning a 1:38.496. Afterwards he was all smiles and happy talk. “The lap was pretty good… right on the limit everywhere. The Corvette C7 worked pretty good and I just hope to carry on the momentum we do have.” His co-driver is Kevin’s father, JAN MAGNUSSEN.

Second and third were JOHN EDWARDS/No.56 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE, with DIRK MULLER, and NICK TANDY/No.911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche, with RICHARD LIETZ. Edwards was all revved up after his earlier overall victory and in the Grand Sports class of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race. He skipped meeting the press to go back to Pit Lane and get in the car for qualifying. His teammate is DIRK MUELLER.

In the large GT Daytona class, SPENCER PUMPELLY/No.45 Flying Lizards Audi R8 LMS was quickest at 1:25.6951. NELSON CANACHE Jr is the co-driver. Second and third in class were LEH KEEN & COOPER MacNEIL/No.22 Alex Job Porsche 911 GT America Porsche, and CHRISTOPHER HAASE & BRYCE MILLER/No.48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS Audi. This group was very competitive, with a new leader seemingly every lap or so.

Sunday the four classes will be split into two separate races, with the first one at 10.15am PT for Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona classes, with 30-32 cars. The number depends on two PC ORECA FLMS. No.88 BAR1 Motorsports has withdrawn, but the Starworks Motorspor car possibly had a wiring harness problem which kept it from qualifying. The team hopes to make the race.

The second race for Prototypes a GT Le Mans will be at 2:45pm PT, with 22 cars.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Pit Lane lineup

It was many familiar faces at the top of each class for the first session of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship practice session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Fifty-five cars spread among the four new classes had its first on-track session of the weekend, scheduled for sixty minutes on the 2.238-mile, 12-turn elevated road course.

The hour-long session was shortened by a Red Flag when DOUG BIELEFELD/No.88 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09/Chevrolet/Continental launched himself into the Turn Six tire wall, and the tires came falling down. He was unhurt but it was a difficult and lengthy extrication requiring a flatbed tow truck.

The session was restarted 13 minutes later, and six minutes later another Red Flag was displayed for SPENCER PUMPELLY/No.45 GTD Flying Lizards Motorsports Audi R8 LMS/Audi/Continental when he ran out of fuel on course. Four minutes later the checkered was thrown, a bit early.

The cars exited the Pit Lane by reversing at Start-Finish, causing some consternation for the larger Prototypes which couldn’t quite negotiate the sharp turn.

No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing DP

No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing DP

Veteran sports car racer, SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP/Ford/Continental topped the charts in the Prototype Class. Pruett’s time was 1:20.243. His car was one of 55 on the Pruett’s teammate, MEMO ROJAS, also logged miles in the car. All the cars in this class run Continental Tires.

Second overall was JOAO BARBOSA/No.5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP/Chevrolet/Continental. The Delta Wing Racing Car team returned to the series this weekend, with ANDY MEYERICK and KATHERINE LEGGE. The Elan-engined car was third fastest overall and in the P class with Meyerick at the wheel.

Fastest in the PC class was COLIN BRAUN/No.54 Core Autosport ORECA FLM09/Chevrolet/Continental. His lap was 1:20.915. All the cars in this class run the same chassis, engine and tires.

DIRK MUELLER/No.56 GTLM BMW RLL BMW Z4 GTE/BMW/Michelin turned a 1:24.066 for top in the GT Le Mans class. This category is the only one of the four with open tires. All but one run Michelin. The other team is Team Falken Tire with WOLF HENZLER and BRYAN SELLERS/No.17 Porsche 911 RSR.

In the large GTD class, LEH KEEN/No.22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America/Porsche/Continental was quickest at 1:27.641

The next session is another hour-long practice with the combined classes, at 3:45pm PT, after the 150-minute race for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series.

Pit Lane Traffic Jam

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!

Foggy Laguna morning

What a difference makes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Raceway in Monterey CA. The fog has rolled in big time, temperature has dropped to 52 degrees F, the humidity is pegged at 89 percent. This puts a crimp in the already packed into the three-day, five series, and seven-race schedule for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda weekend. Laguna, which has its own microclimate between the Monterey Bay and inland Salinas area, is known for its rolling fog. The sun tried to peek through and beat a hasty retreat, leaving the fog to blanket and un-blanket the corners one by one on the 2.238, twelve turn elevated road circuit. Once there was visibility from one turn to the next, the first race of the day took off. The SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup race started fifteen minutes late, and the clock started on the second pace lap for the originally-planned 45-minute race. Due to time constraints, the timed race will be shortened to end at its usual time.

Saturday’s schedule calls for the Mazda race, Porsche GT3 Cup qualifying, the first of two races for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series, two one-hour long practices with the combined classes of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, a 150-minute race for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and four single-class qualifying sessions for the TUDOR Championship cars. The day’s on-course activities are slated to end at 6:15pm PT.

Foggy Laguna paddock

BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Starter Stand

It was another great weather day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the first of three days of sports car racing at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda. The moderate upper seventies temperatures with light breeze was more tolerable than Thursday’s record-breaking 90F.

The featured series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, will not be on track Friday, but will have much of Saturday’s track time.
Friday has all the support series sanctioned byIMSA, plus the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich.

TRENT HINDMAN and JOHN EDWARDS/No.46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 were the fastest drivers overall in the Continental Tire Championship SportsCar Challenge, and also quickest in the Grand Sports class. Their time was 1:36.181/83.767mph. In the Super Touring class, TYLER McQUARRIE and MARC MILLER/No.3 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 were tops and twenty-sixth overall. Their time was 1:40.023/80.549mph.

Sixty of the 61 Continental Championship cars were on track

ARI MALKHASSIAN/No.11 ALARA Racing was the fastest MX-5 Car in the first practice at 1:41.730/79.197 mph, and in the subcategory for the Skip Barber MX-5 cars, ROBBY FOLEY/No.93 was the quickest at 1:44.428/77.151 mph. At one point one of the Mazdas clocked 100 mph on the radar gun at the top of the crest just past Start-Finish. This group has its first race at 5:45pm Friday and Race Two is 8am Saturday. Both races are 45-minutes long. Twenty-eight of the twenty-nine entries were on course.

JOHN FARANO/No.63 Jota Corse was the fastest overall and fastest in the Pro Class of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo cars for Practice One. His time was 1:29.961/90.566 mph. The fastest Amateur and second fastest overall was TIM BELL/No.81 Mitchum Motorsports. There are fifteen cars in the group, with five Pro drivers, and 11 Amateur drivers. One car has two Amateur drivers. All were on track.

After lunch there will be more practice, qualifying and a race.

FOX Sports is airing the TUDOR Championship races live on Sunday. In the booth will be BOB VARSHA, CALVIN FISH and DORSEY SCHROEDER. Pit Lane duties will be handled by JAMIE HOWE and BRIAN TILL. The Pre-Race Show will be hosted by JUSTIN BELL.

MX-5 cars on Pre-Grid