MIAMI, Sept. 25 - Intersport Racing's colorful "Junkyard Dog" ...
MIAMI, Sept. 25 - Intersport Racing's colorful "Junkyard Dog" #37 should fit right in with the brilliant colors that punctuate the international flavor of Miami when the race car makes its last appearance of the year - at least in its current configuration - in the Grand Prix Americas on a temporary street course in downtown Miami on Saturday.
The #37 entry in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) has been Intersport blue and red with a touch of MG green since Intersport Racing scrambled for equipment after a crash in Sonoma, Calif., at the end of July. The team leased a Lola from England's Chamberlain Motorsports so it could continue to compete in this year's ALMS series, and dubbed it "The Junkyard Dog" due to its amalgamation of colorful bodywork.
Leasing the car was vital to its drivers' championship hopes. Both of the #37's drivers, Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y. and Jon Field of Dublin, Ohio, are in the hunt for the LMP 675 class' drivers' championship and they've never been lower than second in points all year long. Without leasing a car to replace their regular mount while it was being repaired, they would have kissed the point championship away two months ago.
Reactions to the "Junkyard Dog's" colorful paint job have ranged across the board. The car, which is sponsored by Banana Joe's, Highcroft Racing and Goodyear, has been hard to miss.
But repairs to Intersport's regular car are almost complete, so it's very likely that the "Junkyard Dog" will be returned to Hugh Chamberlain after Saturday's race in Miami, and Intersport's regular Lola will be back in action at the season finale at Road Atlanta Motor Sports Park in Braselton, Ga., on Oct. 18.
There are only two street courses on the 2003 ALMS schedule, and Dayton and Field and their "Junkyard Dog" won their class in the other one. Coming from last place, they were victorious in a similar street race at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada in August.
Since it was taken out of mothballs and put back into action, the "Junkyard Dog" has that class victory at Trois-Rivieres to its credit as well as a fifth-place finish in class at Mosport, Ontario; a fourth in class at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.; and a third in class at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
Prior to that, Dayton and Field finished second in class in the 12 Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla. in March and won their class at Road Atlanta in June in their regular car, finishing third overall.
Although both cars have impressive records, unfortunately the "Junkyard Dog" has also suffered from persistent and frustrating electrical problems. When it runs it is very, very fast, however.
Dayton and Field's goal is to share the LMP 675 class drivers' championship this year. Field won that title last year.
Going into Saturday's race, they are tied for second in the LMP 675 drivers' standings, 10 points behind Chris Dyson, 95 to 85. Twenty points are up for grabs at Miami and 26 will be on the line at the Petit Le Mans, so the point race is extremely close.
Along with a third driver, Michael Durand, Dayton and Field won the LMP 675 class at last year's Petit Le Mans. (A third driver is added for that race because it's 1,000 miles or 10 hours long.)
Saturday's two-hour-and-45-minute race around Miami's 1.3-mile temporary street circuit will begin at 4 p.m. Eastern time. It will be broadcast live on the SPEED Channel from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern.
Prior to that Dayton and Field are slated to sign autographs from 11 a.m. until noon Eastern time Saturday in the ALMS Village in Bayfront Park, located at the Flagler Pedestrian Bridge behind Grandstand One.
Practice and qualifying will occur tomorrow. The LMP 675 division will qualify at the same time as the LMP 900 class, from 2:20 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. Eastern time Friday.
The track, which includes portions of Biscayne Boulevard, Bayfront Park and other Miami streets, has 13 turns. It is the smallest course that the ALMS will use in 2003.
On Sunday the CART champ cars will compete on the same course. The MotoRock Trans-Am Tour and CART Toyota Atlantics will also share the "Blast by the Bay" card.
For more information see www.americanlemans.com, www.intersportracing.com, www.miamirace.com and www.restartcommunications.com. Both Dayton and Field are in the running for the series' most popular driver award, and fans can place a vote free of charge for that distinction at www.americanlemans.com.