The wind started to pick up slightly Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Verizon Festival of Speed. The flags were starting to move, somewhat lethargically. They should be flying straight out when the afternoon breezes kick in. By the time the race started for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Series. the temperature had risen to 89 degrees F. The track temperature was 122 and one team reported it would be 120 degrees F inside the cockpit of the race car.

The teams do a number of  things to keep out the heat from the cars while parked on the pre-grid and for the drivers once they’re in the car.

Many teams had blankets and covers of various kinds covering the windshield and/or engine compartment –  including silver reflective sheets, black tonneau covers, and moving van blankets. A few were also pumping cold air inside the car up to the point the driver had to get in.

Many of the drivers wore cool suits. Some used regular ice and some used dry ice. Anything to keep the chilled water circulating through the tubes covering the driver’s torso cool suit. Additionally many drivers had chilled air pumped into their helmets. Keeping the driver’s head cool is crucial.

DARREN MANNING of England is co-driving No.45 Orbit Racing BMW Riley Daytona Prototype with BILL LESTER of Oakland CA. Lester qualified the car and will be starting twelfth. Up until the last minute Manning didn’t know if he’d be driving in the sports car, or at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a back-up IndyCar driver for MIKE CONWAY/No.24 Dreyer & Reinbold at Bump Day Qualifying for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. Conway crashed last Sunday morning in practice, suffered bruised lungs and hurt back. The Dreyer & Reinbold team had Manning standing by at the track, his seat fitting already done at the race shop, and he was good to go.  Conway wasn’t cleared to drive until Friday of the Grand-Am race weekend, and Manning didn’t know until he was at the airport. The Orbit Rolex team team had lined up RYAN DALZIEL of Scotland to race for Manning, just in case.