Laguna Seca Lynx Racing Fast Facts

Fast Facts: Lynx Racing at the Grand Prix of Monterey 1. Lynx Racing is owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, and is one of the most unique and successful ‘driver development’ programs in auto racing today... 2. The team has won...

Fast Facts: Lynx Racing at the Grand Prix of Monterey

1. Lynx Racing is owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, and is one of the most unique and successful ‘driver development’ programs in auto racing today...

2. The team has won both the series championship and the KOOL/ Toyota Atlantic race at the Grand Prix of Monterey the last two years in a row, with Patrick Carpentier in 1996 and Alex Barron in 1997; both drivers now compete in CART...

3. Carpentier had already won his title by the time he got to Monterey -- with a pole position at Road America. Barron won his at the Laguna Seca track -- by less than 1/10th of a second on the last lap of qualifying...

4. Between them, current Lynx Racing drivers Memo Gidley and Buddy Rice have scored four wins, three poles, four podiums and ten ‘top 10’ finishes in 11 races so far this year, and Gidley is already talking with several CART teams about next year...

5.  Practice:  8:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. / Friday, Sept 11
    Preliminary qualifying:  1:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. / Friday, Sept. 11
    Final qualifying:  12:00 noon - 12:30 p.m. / Saturday, Sept. 12
    Race / 28 laps:  3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. / Saturday, Sept. 12

There's gonna be a wrestling extravaganza in the hills of Monterey this weekend, a tag team double-header -- Lynx Racing vs. Luck, and Destiny vs. drivers Memo Gidley and Buddy Rice.

Too theatrical and contrived a metaphor, you say? Not at all, if you but knew the full truth of it.

We'll spare you the excruciating details, however, and refine it down to this -- in a convincing display of its control over the forces of luck, Lynx Racing dominated and won the last two KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championships in a row and graduated both drivers (Patrick Carpentier in 1996 and Alex Barron in 1997) to CART.

In fact, the team had things so under control that Carpentier, who won 9 of 12 races in 1996 -- eight of them in row from the pole -- had already clinched the title at Road America and his wins at Vancouver and Laguna Seca were just icing on the cake. And in 1997, by the time the Atlantic circus got to Laguna, only two drivers were left in the championship battle, Lynx teammates Barron and Gidley.

This year, in demonstrating it was their destiny to continue the streak and graduate up to their heart's desire, Gidley and Rice dominated and won the first four races of this year, building up a huge lead in the championship points battle.

It was at Montreal, in the fifth race of a 13-race season, that Lady Luck and Destiny ran off together, leaving that points lead to melt like an ice cream cone left too long in the sun. Not content with insult, they've been tormenting our young heroes from afar; a veiled glimpse here, a faint endearment there, mixed with all-too-frequent encounters with machinery that can only be described as hexed and luck that can only be described as perverse.

Take the last race, last weekend at Vancouver, for example. Rice gets bumped by Atlantic championship points leader Lee Bentham on the opening lap and has to pit to repair a bent steering arm. That done, he re-joins in last place and drives one of the best races of his young career, but finishes fifth.

"I kind of hate to talk about bad luck, first because it sounds like you're making excuses, and second because you might attract more of it,," says Rice. "This is a championship team with the most skilled and dedicated mechanics and engineers in the business, so you wouldn't think luck would play any part at all, but it does. All we can do is ignore the bad, and when the good shows up, wrestle it to the ground and try to get it handcuffed to the race car. It's no way to treat a lady, but she hasn't been treating us very well either." Or consider the case of Memo Gidley, in that same race at Vancouver; he's running fourth and the leading three crash right in front of him, putting him in first. He manages to avoid hitting them, but in the process gets bumped, once again by the apparently omnipresent Lee Bentham. He re-joins in last place, and, driving a bent car brilliantly, finishes seventh.

Lady Luck's languid wave from the grandstands was that, while Gidley finished seventh, Bentham only finished sixth, and so the seven points that separated the two grew by only one, to eight. And with 20 points for a win, and two races left on the schedule, the fat lady has only just begun to clear her throat, and there's no telling what song she’ll sing.

So, at this point, there are eight drivers still technically in the hunt for the 1998 KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, and the coveted CART ride that seems to go with it. Bentham (who finished 6th) leads with 131 points, while Gidley is just eight points back with 123. Vancouver winner Andrew Bordin now figures in the championship battle with 118 points. Matt Sielsky (who had Vancouver won until a late-race spin) sits at 102, Alexandre Tagliani is at 101, Buddy Rice is at 97, Anthony Lazzaro is at 92 and Kenny Wilden is at 78.

"I believe that we're going to win the championship again this year, but we'll know we've been in a battle," says Gidley. "The Lynx team is every bit as good as it’s been in past years, but two factors affected this season. Just plain bad luck was the biggest part of it. The other was the rise of new teams, such as Player's and PPI that are part of CART teams and have both bigger budgets and access to technical resources we don't. This may be the last season that an independent team has a chance to win the Atlantic title, and I'm going to do everything in my power to see that's what happens."

Atlantic activities at Laguna Seca begin with a press luncheon at the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Thursday, September 10, at 11:30 a.m. Lynx Racing will also sponsor, for the second year in a row, the creation of a unique piece of racing art -- an 8 ft. x 10 ft. mural in chalk on the asphalt of the paddock -- created by noted artist Rod Tryon.

Lynx Racing, now entering its eighth year of operation, is a uniquely successful driver development team owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty. The team is dedicated to seeking out young drivers with championship potential but without financial resources and helping them make the jump to the top levels of the sport.

In addition to the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, Lynx Racing has a 'junior team', Lynx/DSTP Motorsports, operating one step down on the ladder, in the U.S. F2000 series. Lynx also fields an effort, in conjunction with Kent Stacy's S3 Racing, in the Star Formula Mazda Championship for Lynx Racing driver Sara Senske, 20, of Kennewick, Washington.

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Lee Bentham