Jay Amestoy, Patrick Dempsey, Gill Campbell and John Pineo.
Jay Amestoy, Patrick Dempsey, Gill Campbell and John Pineo.

It was a picture-perfect day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the announcement that Mazda North American Operations is extending its naming rights contract with the Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula. JAY AMESTOY, Vice President, Public Affairs and Motorsports of MNAO said the extension was for five years-thru 2017, and he expected more extensions after that.

It was smiles all around, including GILL CAMPBELL, CEO/General Manager of the track, and JOHN PINEO, Monterey County Director of Parks. And the icing on the cake in the announcement was the addition of one of Mazda’s favorite drivers, PATRICK DEMPSEY, who has been driving Mazda’s since the beginning of his race career. He lauded all the support of Mazda throughout the years. He feels the love from those in motorsports.

Dempsey had the option of running Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in Utah or making his planned ALMS debut at Laguna Seca, his ‘home’ track.’ Easy Choice said he. The track has great history, with PHIL HILL winning his first race here in a 120 (Jaguar), and “I want to be part of that history.”

Dempsey said this weekend will be a “Test With Traffic.” Laguna has great rhythm.

On another subject – the progress of Dempsey’s movie “The Art of Racing in the Rain” … he’s aiming for shooting in the fall. The director’s choice is down to two. Meanwhile, on the website of author GARTH STEIN, there is a trailer for the movie, mainly focusing on ENZO.

Thursday’s schedule for the American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patron weekend called for practice and qualifying for Cooper Tires Prototypes Lites Power by Mazda, IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, and SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge and Playboy ALMSĀ field is 35 strong. The class breakdown is: P1=2; P2=5; GT=12; PC=9; and GTC=7.