LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY - Monterey, Calif. (September 26, 2000) - Laguna Seca Raceway and sports car racing are a perfect match. The two come together again this fall for the trackâ€™s final event of the 2000 season, the GlobalCenter Sports Car ...
LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY - Monterey, Calif. (September 26, 2000) - Laguna Seca Raceway and sports car racing are a perfect match. The two come together again this fall for the track’s final event of the 2000 season, the GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships presented by Honda, October 13-15.
Laguna Seca carries a storied sports car racing history. Some of the greatest touring legends have raced and won at the dry lake including Stirling Moss, Mark Donohue, Peter Revson, Brian Redman and Klaus Ludwig. While Laguna Seca is steeped in sports car history, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) is just beginning to carve its mark. And from impressions thus far, it will be an indelible one.
The first full season for the ALMS was a smashing success. In 1999, the series established itself as the premier sports car championship in the world by providing a home for top teams such as 24 Hours of Le Mans winning BMW Motorsport and Panoz Motor Sports, and signing on with some of the best tracks including Sebring and Laguna Seca. The 2000 season has been supplying even greater excitement with an expanded schedule, and a selection of new teams and cars.
In the premier Prototype category, the BMW and Panoz rivalry continues with the German factory team running off victories at Charlotte and Silverstone, England, and Panoz taking the checkered flag at Nurburgring in Germany. But, while they have battled each other, a new force has caught up with them. After an abbreviated showing in the ALMS in 1999, Audi has launched a full assault on sports car racing and the American Le Mans Series. Audi was the only factory that started the season with a new car, and the R8 has been impressive claiming ALMS victories at Sebring, Sears Point, Mosport, Texas and Portland. But Audi’s most important title came in France as the R8’s dominated the competition for a podium sweep at sports car racing’s crown jewel, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. It has suddenly become a three-horse race and each of the stallions has the power to win. This coming weekend, Audi, BMW, Panoz and the rest of the ALMS will compete in the Petit Le Mans 10 hour endurance race at Road Atlanta.
A unique aspect of sports car racing and the ALMS is that the sleek, space-age prototypes are not alone on the track. They are joined by souped-up Grand Touring Sports (GTS) racers like the unbeatable Dodge Viper GTS-R’s and Corvette C5-R’s, and production-based Grand Touring (GT) cars including Porsche 911 GT3s and BMW M3s. All three classes race at the same time and that presents a serious test to the drivers because the cars vary greatly in power and speed. The prototypes are the fastest cars on the track and are piloted by internationally known road racing stars like former Formula One aces J.J. Lehto (BMW) and Jan Magnussen (Panoz). These drivers must not only weave and wind their way around the track but through much slower traffic. It is one of the greatest challenges in all of motor sports.
It all makes for a spectacular show, and that is what attracted Laguna Seca to the ALMS and the ALMS to Laguna Seca. The Sports Car Championships in October of 1999 proved a phenomenal success. Many race fans considered it the best racing the dry lake had hosted since the FIA GT event in 1997. The event this year promises to supply the same energy and excitement.
The ALMS won’t be alone in facing the challenge of Laguna Seca during the GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships presented by Honda. The BF Goodrich Tires Trans Am Series returns to the raceway with veteran drivers Paul Gentilozzi, Brian Simo and Willy T. Ribbs, and race cars including Jaguar XKRs, Qvale Mangustas and Chevrolet Camaros. Add the Speedvision World Challenge, Lamborghini SuperTrophy and Star Mazda Series, and the weekend will be a serious study in top level racing.