Lynx Racing Laguna Seca Preview

If there is such a thing as a 'home court advantage' in auto racing, Northern-California-based Lynx Racing will have it going into the KOOL/ Toyota Atlantic support race at this weekend's Monterey Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca Raceway. ...

If there is such a thing as a 'home court advantage' in auto racing, Northern-California-based Lynx Racing will have it going into the KOOL/ Toyota Atlantic support race at this weekend's Monterey Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca Raceway. After all, the co-owners of Lynx Racing, the most unique and successful championship-winning race team/driver development program in racing today, are both locals. Lynx co-owner Peggy Haas is a 5th-generation member of the San Francisco Haas families, and her partner, Jackie Doty, is a former driver who lives in Pacific Grove. Then you add to that the success that current Lynx drivers Buddy Rice and Mike Conte have had on this type of track, a true European-style road course with dramatic ups and downs as well as turns that range from 160-mph sweepers to 40 mph hairpins. At similar tracks on the circuit, such as Montreal, Road America and Mid-Ohio, the duo has consistently been super-competitive. Overall during the course of the 1999 season, Rice and Conte have scored 14 top-10 finishes and made three trips to the podium. Finally, you have to factor in the historical aspect -- the Lynx team has a history of victory at Laguna Seca. The team won with Patrick Carpentier in 1996, part of his dream season of 9 wins in 12 races -- 8 of them in a row from the pole. In 1997, Lynx driver Alex Barron won both the championship and the Rookie of the Year award at this track during his single year as an Atlantic driver.

Both drivers, along with last year's Lynx graduate Memo Gidley, have gone on to compete in the CART FedEx series.

In this year's CART race, Carpentier is coming off a 2nd-place finish at Vancouver and will be driving for the Player's/Forsythe team. Gidley, who started his CART career mid-way through this season substituting for the injured Naoki Hattori at Alpine/Walker Racing, will be driving at Laguna Seca for the Herdez/Payton-Coyne team. Barron, who drove all of last year and half of this for Dan Gurney's All-American Racers, drove for Marlboro Team Penske at Michigan, and will finish off the season with Roger Penske's team in the CART season finale at Fontana. "There's some big, fast shoes to fill at this track, no doubt about it," says Rice, who as a rookie with Lynx in 1998 started from the pole in his first-ever Atlantic race, at Long Beach, and won his second race, also from the pole, on the Nazareth oval. "We lost some momentum switching from one kind of car to another part way through last season, but we've been a factor in every race this year, and I'm going into this one expecting to win." In this race last year, Rice qualified 3rd, but nursed his car home to finish 5th after his handling and tires deteriorated. Rice's 1998 teammate, Memo Gidley, came into the race second in the championship and needed to finish well to keep his championship hopes alive, but saw his 10th-place qualifying effort result in a 22nd-place finish after he got caught up in a closing-laps melee with several other cars. Rice's current Lynx teammate, Mike Conte, drove in this race last year for another team, and had quite a satisfactory race, qualifying 21st and finishing 9th. "I really like this kind of track, and it showed in my results last year," says Conte. "There's racing room, and there are at least three great places to pass, which makes it possible to have a good race even if qualifying wasn't that spectacular. There are a lot of high-speed turns on this track, so car setup is important, but, being able to go into a turn deeper and get harder on the brakes than the other guy is the key to winning here, and that's one of my strong points."

- Lynx Racing, for the 8th year in a row will host its annual "Thank-You Dinner" for supporters of the Food Bank For Monterey County. The private, catered event will take place Wednesday, September 9, at the Doubletree Hotel in Monterey. "This is our way of thanking all those wonderful people who support the race against hunger in the Monterey area," says Lynx Racing co-owner Peggy Haas.

- Renowned graphic artist and muralist Rod Tryon will, for the third year in a row, create one of his famed 'chalk art' murals on the asphalt of the Laguna Seca paddock immediately adjacent to the Lynx Racing transporter. Although the mural itself will be cordoned off, the process of creation and the finished product will be open to the public. Says Tryon, "This year, rather than giving me a theme or anything specific to work with, the Lynx team has just asked me to exercise my wildest imagination, which is a rare and wonderful thing for an artist working on commission. I'm excited, and the results will certainly be interesting." - On September 18 - 19, the weekend following the Grand Prix of Monterey, Lynx driver Mike Conte will compete in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Petite Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in the GT-class Porsche he fields under his own Contemporary Motorsports banner. Conte and co-driver Bruno Lambert scored a podium finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.

- Also at the Petite Le Mans event, Memo Gidley, Lynx Racing's most recent graduate will take a break from his duties as a driver for the Herdez/Payton-Coyne team in the CART FedEx Championship to join the Panoz team and drive the team's LMP-1 prototype.

- Lynx Racing's youngest driver, Sara Senske, will also be competing on the Petite Le Mans weekend, in the fourth round of the innovative new Women's Global GT Series, created by Indy 500 driver Lyn St. James and motorsports entrepreneur/Road Atlanta owner/Panoz owner Don Panoz. In the third race of the Women's GT series, at Portland, Senske qualified on the pole, led every lap, set the fastest lap of the race and won by a margin of 27 seconds.

KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Grand Prix of Monterey Schedule of Events:

Friday, September 10 8:45 a.m. -- 9:15 a.m. Atlantic practice 1:45 p.m. -- 2:15 p.m. Atlantic preliminary qualifying

Saturday, September 11 11:15 a.m. -- 11:45 a.m. Atlantic final qualifying 3:30 p.m. -- 4:45 p.m. Atlantic race / 30 laps

Television Schedule (ESPN2 - all times Eastern):

Saturday, Sept. 18              5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.   First broadcast
Wednesday, Sept. 22             3:30 a.m. - 4:30 a.m.   Repeat broadcast
Sunday, Sept. 26                6:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m.   Repeat broadcast

Next race on the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic schedule:

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston / September 26

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Memo Gidley , Alex Barron , Dan Gurney , Lyn St. James , Naoki Hattori , Don Panoz
Teams Team Penske