NORTHPORT, N.Y., Oct. 8 - The exploits of the Yankees and the Mets and the Giants and the Jets are the topics of most sports conversations across Long Island, with the Rangers and the Islanders thrown in to boot. Long Island sports fans who...
NORTHPORT, N.Y., Oct. 8 - The exploits of the Yankees and the Mets and the Giants and the Jets are the topics of most sports conversations across Long Island, with the Rangers and the Islanders thrown in to boot.
Long Island sports fans who follow professional auto racing also keep track of NASCAR's Steve Park, who was born in Islip and now lives in Mooresville, N.C., and sports car champion Andy Lally, who was born, raised and still lives in Northport.
Last year Lally made news when he not only landed a ride in the most prestigious endurance sports car race in North America, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at Daytona International Speedway, for the first time, but he went on to win that event in the Sports Racing Prototype II (SRPII) class, which is second only to the Sports Racing Prototype (SRP) division. These open-cockpit, purpose-built prototypes look similar to the premier SRP class, but their engines can't be larger than three liters in displacement and have no more than six cylinders.
The young driver followed his Rolex 24 victory up by winning the SRPII driver championship for 2001 too, recording three victories, four pole positions and nine podium finishes.
Lally, one of the most professional up-and-comers in any form of motorsports, has been helping to develop a new chassis in that same class this year with a different team, G&W Motorsports. Endurance racing legend Price Cobb is the team's managing director.
Lally has also been competing on the factory Lexus team in the Grand Am Cup championship, which uses production cars divided into four different classes by their weight, engine size and model. Like the NASCAR Busch Grand National series complements the NASCAR Winston Cup series, the Grand Am Cup series usually shares the bill with the Grand Am Rolex Series. Lally has been running in the Sport Touring I class, which includes various small- to mid-size, four-door sedans and sports coupes.
Doing double-duty by driving two different race cars on the same weekend doesn't faze Lally, who ended up on the podium in both classes Sept. 15 in the series' first appearance on the 2.65-mile, 15-turn road course at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.
First Lally set an automatic new track record by winning the pole in the Sports Touring 1 class in his Lexus IS 300 #2 at an average speed of 84.266 mph. That record was made even more special when the two other factory Lexuses in the race, which were driven by Ian James and team owner Chuck Goldsborough, qualified right behind him, giving Lexus its first one-two-three qualifying result in history.
After a rough-and-tumble race, Lally and his co-driver, Tim Gaffney, ended up finishing second in the class behind a BMW driven by Bransen Patch and Don Salama. One of the other Lexuses, the #3 driven by Ian James and Daniel Dror, was third.
Later in the day Lally and his co-drivers on the SRPII team, Darren Law and Armando Trentini, ended up topping the SRPII class in the featured six-hour Grand Am Rolex Series event too in their open-cockpit, bright yellow Picchio BMW.
"Mont-Tremblant is amazing," Lally said. "The owners completely repaved it and turned it into a top-notch circuit. It has some really challenging corners and great elevation changes."
One more race remains in both series this year. They will be held Nov. 9-10 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Another high point of the 2002 season so far is that in a last-minute arrangement, Lally was called in to drive the Knighthawk Racing MG Lola EX257 in the 12 Hours of Sebring, which is second only to the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in American endurance sports car racing. He finished fourth in the P675 class at Sebring, which was another stellar accomplishment.
Fans can keep up to date on Lally's racing endeavors via his Web site at www.andylally.com. Additional information can also be found on the series' Web site at www.grand-am.com and at www.restartcommunications.com.
With all this racing, what does Lally do to unwind?
He certainly isn't a couch potato. In the last couple of years he's also taken up a speed sport of another sort, streetluge. He finished second recently at an event in San Francisco, and he was the fastest qualifier and went on to win a recent World Cup race in Oklahoma.
"The streetluge racing is unreal," Lally said. "There are a lot of people out there like myself who have been watching ice luge and enjoying that sport for years. Once I learned I could do something similar without the cold weather, I looked into it. It's great because we actually race four at a time instead of doing single timed runs, and head-to-head racing makes it very exciting. We reach speeds in the mid sixties to lower seventies, depending on the course."