View Full Version : CHAMP car "Spring Training" at Laguna this weekend (Atlantic too!)

Damn True
03-08-2007, 11:06 AM
http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/mo...s/16817538.htm (http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/sports/16817538.htm)

Spring training comes to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
David Coffin Pit stop
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will rev up its 50th anniversary season next week with four days of Champ Car and Atlantic spring training Wednesday through Saturday.

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship with its 300-horsepower Mazda power plants will be on track Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the sweet sounds of the 750-horsepower turbo-charged Cosworth V-8s will echo through the hills as the Champ Car World Series concludes its pre-season testing of the brand new DP-01 chassis.

All the Champ Car stars are scheduled to be there, including three-time consecutive Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais of France and hard-charging American rookie Graham Rahal, the 18-year-old who is already turning heads with the speed he has shown in the early season test sessions at Sebring and Houston.

Local favorite Jonathan Bomarito will lead the hugely competitive Atlantic Series onto his home track for their final test. The native of Monterey closed out the 2006 Atlantic season with his first victory in the series at Road America and his PR1 Motorsports team, with which he won the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship a couple of years ago, is building on that momentum.

The event is free for spectators and there will be an open house on Saturday, March 10 as the celebration of Laguna Seca's initial race in November of 1957 begins.

Bomarito, by the way, has helped line up Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital to host a blood drive in the Laguna Seca paddock on Wednesday and March 10 from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Those who donate blood during this time will receive a pair of tickets to the U.S. Sports Car Invitational May 18-20, Laguna Seca's season-opening event.

I am told Champ Car will make a number of driver and team announcements while the Atlantic cars are testing on Thursday. The most obvious will undoubtedly be that Graham Rahal will be the second driver (with Bourdais) at Newman/Haas Racing, replacing Bruno Junqueira.

No official announcement has been made to date, but I've been saying for months that Rahal will be in and three-time series runner-up Bruno Junqueira out at Newman/Haas unless the team can find sponsorship for a third car. Rahal has done all the testing for NHR's second seat to date while Junqueira has been shaking down cars for Dale Coyne Racing.

Rahal is the son of racing legend Bobby Rahal, for whom the back straight at Laguna Seca from Turn 6 to the top of the signature Corkscrew (Turns 8 & 8A) is named. Bobby, a former three-time series champion when it was CART, won four consecutive Champ Car races here from 1984-1987.

Bobby has stated previously that his son is more mature than he was at the same age. Graham just turned 18 on Jan. 4. While is Bobby Rahal is a team-owner in the IRL, Graham has expressed that he'd rather road race in sports cars than run on primarily ovals. He was also not old enough to compete in the IRL's development series last year; thus, the entry into the Champ Car system.

Last season, Rahal finished runner-up to Team Australia's Simon Pagenaud in the Atlantic Championship.

The open house will include driver autograph sessions, fan forums and exhibits featuring activities from around Monterey County, including car displays, wine tasting and a tribute to 1957. Saturday will conclude with an old fashioned sock hop in the Red Bull Energy Center.

The track is fully enclosed within the confines of the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, a Monterey County Park, so it is possible the parks department will collect a $5 park day use fee Wednesday through Friday. There are no admission nor paddock fees throughout spring training.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was built in 1957 and has been operated since its inception by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP). SCRAMP is a not-for-profit corporation that donates net proceeds from each race season to the volunteer organizations that help put on the events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Last season alone, SCRAMP donated over $200,000 to local charities and civic organizations.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's 50th Anniversary season celebration includes a world-class racing schedule beginning with the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series May 18-20, the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix (MotoGP) July 20-22, the 34th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presented by Toyota Aug. 17-19, the AMA Superbike Championship Sept. 15-16 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series Oct. 19-21.

Information for all events is available by logging onto www.laguna-seca.com (http://www.laguna-seca.com/) or calling (800) 327-SECA.

David Pozzi
03-08-2007, 08:27 PM
I'll be there Saturday with the Lola on display.

03-11-2007, 11:02 AM
Incredible day and there was something for everyone. We all got to witness Sebastain Bourdais breaking the track lap record by almost half a second in the new Champ Car. I watched them leave Turn 3, go through 4, and on to 5 and they flew. Awesome cars and having never seen a Champ Car race or the cars in person, it was impressive. Cannot imagine turning a high 1:05 at this track.

Here are photos of the day . . .

Lola T70https://static1.pt-content.com/images/pt/2007/03/LagunaSeca50thAnniversaryDayresized-1.jpg


Other interesting cars . . .



Mary Pozzi

Damn True
03-12-2007, 07:23 AM
Sebastien Bourdais blitzed the Laguna Seca track record on his way to fastest time of the day on the final day of Spring Training.

The Frenchman lapped the 2.238-mile circuit in 1:05.880, beating the previous record, established by Ricardo Zonta in a Toyota Formula 1 car in 2006, by a substantial 0.429 seconds. The Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver's average speed was 122.295mph, and he was rewarded with a surprise $5,000 cheque from series owner Kevin Kalkhoven.

Bourdais' lap put him over half a second quicker than his nearest challenger Team Australia's Will Power, and six tenths of a second quicker than PKV Racing's Neel Jani, who just pipped the second Newman/Haas/Lanigan car of Graham Rahal.