PICKETT EAGER TO REKINDLE MONTEREY MEMORIES It has been more than 30 years - 33 to be exact - since Greg Pickett first raced professionally at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. But even through the passing seasons, a fondness for the Monterey circuit...
PICKETT EAGER TO REKINDLE MONTEREY MEMORIES
It has been more than 30 years - 33 to be exact - since Greg Pickett first raced professionally at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. But even through the passing seasons, a fondness for the Monterey circuit still burns bright in the former Trans-Am champion.
Next week, Pickett gets another chance to tame the 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit in the Monterey Sports Car Championships as he competes at the track for the first time as a member of the American Le Mans Series. He and Klaus Graf will pilot the Team Cytosport AER-powered Lola in the four-hour race into darkness that will close the 2007 season.
"It continues to be a very unique venue," Pickett boasted with pride. "It had an extremely fast Turn 1 and Turn 2 that swept around the course. That got changed several years ago. The surface is still slippery and people say it's like glass. It'll be interested to see how the P1 car acts with the downforce. But it's very demanding and very technical. It takes a lot of commitment, particularly down the hill. I didn't understand that level you needed until Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta."
Pickett debuted at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1974, driving a Chevrolet Camaro in an IMSA GT race. He took his first victory there in the Trans-Am Series during the 1978 (en route to a series championship) and 1980 seasons. One of his most prized possessions, in fact, is a plaque given to him after breaking series legend Parnelli Jones' track qualifying record in one of his first Trans-Am races.
But the lasting memory that Picket - and probably any other driver that has driven the track - is taking the famed Corkscrew at speed.
"It's the signature deal. You approach it at high speed, then turn left and hope it's what you remember," Pickett said. "The car falls down from underneath you then flick left and flick right with a lot of acceleration. There's nothing quite like it."
The final round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series is the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The four-hour race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, October 20. SPEED will air the race live from 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET. Live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.