DAYTON REUNITED WITH FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORTS HISTORY IN MONTEREY
Monterey MONTEREY, CA, Thursday, August 12, 2010: Duncan Dayton's Patrón Highcroft Racing team is used to making history in the American Le Mans Series, but this weekend it will be Dayton's turn to climb aboard a piece of motor racing history.
Dayton will compete this weekend in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca aboard Mario Andretti's 1978 World Championship winning Lotus 79 Formula 1 machine.
While already in the middle of a championship battle with his Honda Performance Development factory-backed squad in the American Le Mans Series, Dayton will use this rare weekend off to climb back behind the wheel.
In fact, with the team currently in the middle of three races over four weekends, Dayton will actually make it five consecutive weekends at five different race tracks across North American - last weekend at Mid-Ohio for the sixth round of the ALMS; this weekend at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion; the following weekend at the Road America ALMS event; then the penultimate ALMS round at Canada's Mosport International Raceway. Not content with that, Dayton will then compete at the Lime Rock Vintage Festival the following week before enjoying a well-earned break.
Dayton's Lotus 79 is the car which Andretti took victory at the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix and also contested the Italian Grand Prix.
Although first across the line at Monza, Andretti was penalized for jumping the start and was pushed back to sixth place - this, however, was still enough for the American to clinch the title.
Monterey The Lotus has continued to be successful in Dayton's hands and the man who clinched his 10th race victory at the annual Monaco Historics is looking forward to racing it this weekend.
"The Lotus 79 is very quick around Laguna. It depends on who we are racing against around there because the car is not quite as stiff as some of the other ground effects cars which came later," Dayton said.
"This is really my version of a weekend off. They really don't let me play with the big cars anymore so I have to take these opportunities when they arise to get behind the wheel.
"To be able to drive the Lotus 79 at a place like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a great treat and we'll be there with lots of friends and it really is a mecca for car guys.
"It is definitely like a vacation for me to be able to do that and I certainly still enjoy driving."
Dayton will compete in the Formula One class for cars constructed between 1966 and 1983 this weekend
"The Lotus 79 was revolutionary in its design but there were still a few bugs in the system - however, it was certainly the best car of its day," Dayton said.
"It is always a great weekend in Monterey because I get to race against lots of friends including Michael Fitzgerald's Williams FW 08C who is a customer of Highcroft Racing plus, James King and Howard Cherry in their March 761s."
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has been a happy hunting ground for Dayton and Highcroft in recent times.
The team clinched it's first American Le Mans Series championship when David Brabham and Scott Sharp clinched the 2009 LMP1 title at the end of last season.
In May this year, Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti took the six-hour enduro victory - the second win of an early season three-in-a-row streak for the team.
"I've got a lot of great memories from this place as a driver and of course Patrón Highcroft Racing clinched last year's championship at Laguna and we took the overall ALMS win there this year as well," Dayton said.
Monterey "To be able to head back there and hang out with friends and enjoy the beautiful weather, enjoy the scenery and go racing - it really is a great weekend."
With three races remaining in the 2010 American Le Man Series season, Patrón Highcroft Racing enjoy a 23-point buffer at the head of the championship standings.
"It has been a real fight for us this year in the American Le Mans Series and despite the fact we have a handy lead in the championship, it has not come easily," Dayton said.
"We have had to scrap for every win in every race and to finish second to Dyson Racing last weekend was frustrating in some respect, but rewarding to be only half a second behind when we are 20km/h slower in a straight line.
"The way the rules are structured this year, we have been at a significant disadvantage but it just goes to show how well the team is executing and how well the drivers are racing the car."
Dayton will hit the track today for the first time from 3:15pm to 3:30pm (Pacific) for the opening practice session for the Group 9B F1 machines.
Qualifying takes place on Friday from 3:50pm to 4:10pm. Race action for Dayton and the Lotus 79 will take place on Sunday with a qualifying race from 11:20am to 11:40am followed by the final race of the weekend - a 10-lap battle at 5:10pm.
Dayton's next historic outing will be closer to home in Highcroft Racing's home state of Connecticut at the historic Lime Rock Park circuit.
"The Vintage Festival at Lime Rock is always a great fun event and it is right in our back yard as our home track," Dayton said.
"That is an event that I always look forward to - doing battle on track and catching up with lots of great friends.
"Five races in five weeks - some people think I must have some kind of nasty addiction to this game."