Not so much into each other, but more so into walls, barriers, gravel went some of the drivers in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in Saturday afternoon’s race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. There will be a lot of gnashing and groaning tonight. The action made for a lot of replays and no doubt enough for an entire highlight (or low light) reel. When all was said and done, about one third of the race was under caution. There were seven cautions for 28 laps, a bit more than a third of the race.
No drivers were transported to a medical facility but more than one driver will be sore Sunday after he flipped his car. Dr. RAMIN ABDOLVAHABI/No.91 ST Irish Mike’s Hyundai Genesis landed upside down – all by himself in Turn Five. SCOTT MAXWELL/No.15 Mustang GS Multimatic flipped his car going down the famed Corkscrew and landed on top of the concrete barrier and tires, bringing out the calvary and another caution. In each case the driver walked to the ambulance.
With all the cautions and differing strategies, the leaders in each class changed frequently.
JOHN EDWARDS/No.46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 and teammate – Polesitter TYLER McQUARRIE – were the overall winners and in the Grand Sports Class. They finished 75 laps. Edwards was a busy lad. He didn’t make it to the Media Center for meet and greet. He jumped into his TUDOR United SportsCar Championship No.56 GTLM Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW, and he and co-driver DIRK MUELLER each put the car at the top of the GTLM class.
Second and third in class and overall were LAWSON ASCHENBACH & ERIC CURRAN/No.01 CKS Autosport Camaro Z/28R, and MAX RIDDLE & KRIS WILSON/NO.07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin.
It was a sweep for Mazda in the Super Touring Class, with all podium finishers running a Mazda MX-5. Much of the development work on the car was done at the track, and the head of Mazda’s R&D department comes to the races as much as he can.
Winner ANDREW CARBONEL and co-driver RANDY POBST/No.26 Freedom Autosport finished nineteenth overall, on the lead lap. They set a new track record for a race lap of 1:39.594. This is the eighth Class win for Pobst and the third victory out of the past four here at Laguna Seca for Carbonel. They were a mutual admiration society after the race. Pobst said that Mazda Raceway really suited the Mazdas, and it was close and tight with the CJ Wilson Racing team. They had a good race and a good time.
Polesitter TYLER McQUARRIE/No.3 CJ Wilson Racing finished runner-up with teammate MARC MILLER and in twentieth position overall, on the lead lap.
STEVEN McALEER and co-driver CHAD McCUMBEE/No.5 CJ Wilson Racing finished third.
Three drivers led four times, with the winners leading twice. Polesitter Aschenbach led the first 26 laps, then the winners for seven laps. MAT PLUMB/No.13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 997 led for nine laps.
ASHLEY FREIBERG/No.48 GS Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 acquitted herself quite nicely considering she just recently confirmed that she was running this weekend. She ran as high as third before she and co-driver SHELBY BLACKSTOCK finished seventh overall and in class.
The fastest speed caught on the radar gun at Turn One that I saw was 120 mph.
Thanks to DEAN CASE and Mazda North America, Racing for MAXTON stickers were on many Mazdas this weekend, including the MX-5 Cup cars. Mazda created and distributed the stickers which reference support for three-year old MAXTON PRILL, son of Sports Car Club of America Vice President of Marketing & Communications ERIC PRILL and wife ROBIN. The young lad has been battling leukemia, resulting several bouts of chemo and hospitalizations.
Early on, LIAM DWYER of MD had an accident in No.27 ST Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 coming into Turn Two. His prosthetic foot slipped off the pedal leaving Turn One and by the time he got it back on, he had hit LEE CARPENTIER/No.11 Mitchum Motorsports BMW and both went off. “Up until then I was doing fine.” Dwyer broke the front end. The Marine veteran has two prosthetic legs, and he races a Mazda MX-5 with the five-car Freedom Autosport team. MARK POMBO of Georgia is another military vet on the team, having served in Iraq. Mark races with his brother MATT, who is an orthopedic surgeon. Papa Pombo, ALEX, is a retired race car driver. The Freedom Autosport team was created as a tribute to the US armed forces and contributes to and supports the Semper Fi fund, which assists injured Marines. Matt got a stop and go red flag penalty of sixty seconds which dropped the car from third to a lowly forty-first finish, one lap down.
Saturday was Military Appreciation Day at the track. All uniformed military, or those with military ID’s got in free, the hospitality island was renamed Military Island, and there was free lunch for the first 500 people. Special VIP rides in race cars were provided to military people, courtesy of the track.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was once an Army base, Fort Ord. Racing began in 1957 while it was still an active installation. After it was decommissioned, the track and closeby areas became a Monterey County park, some of the land was given to nearby cities. As of six months ago or so, portions of Ford Ord are designated National Monument and outside the County Park, it’s a National Park under the aegis of the Bureau of Land Management. When I was a kid my father was stationed at Fort Ord.