At 9 am PDT it was 85 degrees F when the Grand-Am Rolex Series took to the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for their half-hour warmup, prior to their 1 PM PDT race as the headliner for the Verizon Festival of Speed. There was no breeze – the flags hung limply all around the track. Hats, water and sunblock were the musts for the day. Shade was sought.

Many of the 66 Rolex Series drivers were wearing cool suits, which necessitated a 15-20 cool box in the cockpit of the car to circulate cold water throughout the tubing on the drivers’ torso. Some drivers opted for an air pumper system. One team had the cool box, but only one of the two drivers would be using it.

DANE CAMERON/No.30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 GT has been under the weather and will wear the cool suit. He qualified the car third on the GT grid and will be starting the race. Co-driver, BRYCE MILLER, will not be wearing a cool suit, as the water will have all warmed up by the driver change. Weight is a problem with having a cool box in their car, but Cameron’s health comes first.

Grand-Am rules dictate that the qualifying driver starts the car.

PATRICK DEMPSEY and JOE FOSTER/No.40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 both will be wearing cool suits. The car doesn’t need ballast, and actually, Grand-Am gave the car a 20 pound break after the last race. The team is still figuring out how to trim out the car to make that reduction; it has three weeks before the six hour race at Watkins Glen on 6 June 2009.

SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley will be getting into his car at the driver change, as his co-driver, MEMO ROJAS qualified the car. This means Pruett will be relaxed enough during the pre-race activities on the front straight to receive the 2008 Road Racing Driver of the Year from the Motor Sports Press Association of Northern California.

Rojas, a native of Mexico City, has not been home since the outbreak of the H1N1 flu. He said none of his family or friends have the virus, or even know anyone who does. However, Rojas thought the overblown media attention would lead to border closures and he couldn’t get back into the United States for his next race. He’ll be going home on Monday.

The Rolex Series race will be shown live on SPEED TV at 1 PM PDT/4 PM EDT.