Laguna Seca race to extend into the night

Night Racing To Thrill Fans and Drivers in ALMS Season Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca BRASELTON, GA. - Fans of endurance sports car racing have always loved the sights, sounds and thrills of racing at night. Under the cover of darkness, ...

Night Racing To Thrill Fans and Drivers in ALMS Season Finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

BRASELTON, GA. - Fans of endurance sports car racing have always loved the sights, sounds and thrills of racing at night. Under the cover of darkness, exotic sports cars come alive with red-hot glowing brakes, flaming exhausts and sparks from contact as drivers battle both the elements and other drivers.

While American Le Mans Series fans have come to expect these sights in events such as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Chevy presents Petit Le Mans, the two longest races of the season, they now have a new "night racing" event to look forward to at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

The 2004 American Le Mans Series season will conclude with the running of the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at the famed Monterey road racing circuit Oct. 14-16. The season-ending event will be a four-hour race that starts at 4 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, Oct. 16, and concludes at 8 p.m., well after darkness has fallen on the 2.238-mile, 12-turn track.

It will be the first time in the long history of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that the track has hosted a night racing event, and track officials say the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"People are thrilled that we are holding a race that goes into the night," said Gill Campbell, General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "With this event being our final race of the season, and the last race of the American Le Mans Series season, it just adds a whole new dimension to the event. There's been a total infusion of renewed enthusiasm from everyone we've talked to."

While the scenic Monterey Bay area, and the challenging raceway, have long been favorites of American Le Mans Series drivers and race teams, the added bonus of a longer race that runs into darkness has been received well by ALMS competitors.

"Laguna has always been one of my favorite tracks," said Johnny O'Connell, defending GTS class driving champion of the ALMS and driver for the factory Chevrolet Corvette team. "It has great combinations of corners and good passing areas that really work for our style of racing.

"Getting to run around that place in the dark is for sure going to be one of the coolest things that has ever happened there," O'Connell said. "I can only imagine how much more intense running down the Corkscrew will be. Also, with it being the last race of the year, you can guarantee that every driver will be pushing hard as championships will likely be decided there."

"It is going to be a thrill to race at Laguna Seca at night," said Chris Dyson, the champion of the LMP 675 class last year in the ALMS and driver of the Dyson Racing Lola-MG Prototype. "With all its elevation changes, the track is very technical to drive in daylight hours. Running in darkness will only add to the challenge. It will be a great way to close out the ALMS season."

As a convenience for fans, Campbell said that the raceway is planning to light all of the exit roads, and will also have ambient lighting at selected points around the circuit. She also said that fans will notice more entertainment options on the raceway grounds during the event weekend.

"We've never had a four-hour race before," she said. "Our goal is for the spectators to be entertained for four hours not only by the racing, but also by the raceway. The atmosphere will be very friendly."

American Le Mans Series cars will have practice and qualifying on Friday, Oct. 15. Races will also be held during the weekend for the SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring classes, the Star Mazda Series, World SuperKarts and the Miata Challenge.

Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships weekend ticket information is available online at www.laguna-seca.com or by phone at (800) 327-SECA. Fans can also call (831) 648-5100.

-alms-

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