California Dreamin': Former Monterey Winner Vasser Heads Home With Champ Car Starts Record; Gonzalez Prepares For First Cork Screw Encounter at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca INDIANAPOLIS (September 7, 2004) -- After scoring his seventh ...
California Dreamin': Former Monterey Winner Vasser Heads Home With Champ Car Starts Record; Gonzalez Prepares For First Cork Screw Encounter at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
INDIANAPOLIS (September 7, 2004) -- After scoring his seventh top-10 result in the past eight events, 1996 Champ Car driver's champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to his native California this weekend for his 13th trip to picturesque Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the 80-lap Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Stablemate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Mexico will challenge the 18-car field of 750 horsepower ground-pounding Champ Cars in his PKV Racing prepared Lola, as the first-year pilot leaves Montreal having moved up to second overall in laps completed on the season, with 947 out of a possible 970 orbits.
Vasser, who hails from Canoga Park, Calif., is very familiar with the Monterey Peninsula circuit that boasts the famed Cork Screw. In 12 career Laguna Seca appearances, Vasser has eight top-10s and four top-fives, highlighted by a victory in the 1997 event after starting sixth. Laguna Seca is also the venue where Vasser clinched the 1996 championship with a fourth place run.
"Returning to my home track is always the highlight of the season for me," said Vasser, who passed Al Unser. Jr. with his Champ Car record 193rd consecutive start in Montreal. "My memories of Laguna Seca extend all the way back to my childhood. I used to go there with my dad, and that track is really what sparked my interest in road racing. On top of that, some of my greatest and most accomplished memories of my career came at Laguna Seca. I won my first big Formula Ford race there in the 80's; in addition to winning an Atlantic race there in 1987. In 1996, I clinched the title there and my good friend and teammate Alex [Zanardi] made "The Pass" on [Bryan] Herta. The next year I won the race and Alex won the championship there, which was pretty cool. It's a special place with a lot of meaning for me."
In Montreal, Gonzalez once again reached his season-long goal of running in the top-10, after moving up five positions to finish 10th, and hopes to extend that streak when he visits the 2.238-mile ribbon of pavement carved in the California countryside for the first time.
"I've been to Laguna Seca several times, but only as a spectator," said Gonzalez. "PKV Racing tested there earlier this year in May, so I'm very excited to go back. The track is a lot tougher than it looks from the outside. With uphill, downhill and blind corners, the layout is very challenging, and you cannot afford to lose focus for a second. I'm really looking forward to this race. I've always dreamed of racing at Laguna Seca, and now that dream is going to become a reality."
Watch the PKV Racing duo of Vasser and Gonzalez this Sunday, September 12th on Spike TV or HDNet (4:00 pm ET/PT) as they compete in Champ Car's 22nd consecutive trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Round 11 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford.
About PKV Racing
Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing fields a two-car effort in the Champ Car World Series for American open wheel star Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Mexican rookie Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The second-year team is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Vasser, and is managed by veteran Champ Car team manager Russell Cameron.
For more information please visit www.pkvracing.com, www.nextel.com.mx or www.gulfstream.com.