LYNX IN THE CHAIN -- OFFSEASON NEWS No matter how tranquil it may appear from the outside, the off-season of an auto racing team is full of activity that may seem random, but is, in fact, inextricably linked. Herewith, some...
LYNX IN THE CHAIN -- OFFSEASON NEWS
No matter how tranquil it may appear from the outside, the off-season of an auto racing team is full of activity that may seem random, but is, in fact, inextricably linked. Herewith, some examples:
A Pilgrim's Progress _________________
Lynx Racing's latest graduate, Memo Gidley, has had an interesting off-season pilgrimage down the winding path that leads to his future. Gidley demonstrated his abundant talent by winning three of the first four KOOL/Toyota Atlantic races of the 1998 season. But the music in the post-season game of CART FedEx musical chairs stopped before he was able to secure a seat, forcing him onto a longer, more circuitous path to his destiny. Stops along the way have included the IRL 'Test in the West' at Phoenix International Raceway, where he talked to a variety of teams about testing and race deals. He has also found himself at the wheel of an ex-Bill Elliott Winston Cup car and Darrell Waltrip's #17 Western Auto Lumina. The shakedown sessions took place at Sears Point Raceway and were performed under the auspices of Scott Rubin of McGee Motorsports who maintains the cars for their owner to race in vintage events. "I wasn't too excited at the start about driving vintage stock cars, but it turns out that even an older old stock car is still fairly current in terms of both performance and technology," said Gidley. "The new cars are basically the same, but with stronger engines and different bodies. It's a very different driving experience from what I'm used to, but also very interesting. There are places on the track that I could never understand why they called them turns because they were flat-out in the Atlantic car, but in a stock car, they really are turns. With the high horsepower and weight of a stock car riding on those skinny tires, you find yourself steering with the throttle and driving like mad every moment. Driving a formula car is fairly relaxing by comparison." Nor is Gidley's stock car experience limited to vintage versions. He won the 1997 Reno Grand Prix driving a GT America stock, and in the very near future will be testing a modern Southwest Tour car owned by Beebe Racing Enterprises, one of the top teams in the series. "I'm working very hard on putting together the sponsorship to stay in open-wheel racing," says Gidley. "But so far during my career I've raced and won in everything from sailboats and BMX bicycles to motocross, karts, Can-Am, stock cars and open-wheel cars. Legendary drivers like Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt had great success in both open- and closed-wheel cars, as have some current drivers like Tony Steward and Robby Gordon. And that's not a bad set of footsteps to follow."
Senske Expanding Her Horizons ____________________________
Lynx Racing driver Sara Senske is expanding her horizons for the 1999 season with both more and different kinds of races. Not only will she compete in her second full season of the Star Mazda West Series as lead driver on Kent Stacy's S3 Racing team, she will also run two additional races at Sebring and Road Atlanta. These events, along with four western races already scheduled to be televised (Pike's Peak, Sears Point, Portland and San Diego), comprise the Mazda series' 6-race "TV Championship." The Star Formula Mazda TV Championship will have slightly different rules and a separate prize fund. Each of the races will be televised on ESPN2, giving competitors in the series the most comprehensive meda exposure in the series history. In addition to the Mazda series, Senske is one of the 'fast company' of women selected to drive in the new Women's Global GT Series being developed by motorsports entrepreneur Don Panoz and Indy 500 veteran Lyn St. James. "I'm excited about the additions to my Formula Mazda schedule, and that program is all set," says Senske. "The Women's GT series is something
I want to do but isn't in the budget, so we're out hunting for sponsorship, which is an education in itself. The couple of days I spent in the Panoz cars at Road Atlanta during the tryouts were very helpful to me in my Mazda testing, and I think being in the GT series will help the women involved raise their with the media, the fans and sponsors. There are several conflicts with my Mazda schedule, but I'm working toward being able to run at least a couple of the races." The ESPN2 television schedule for the Star Mazda Series is as follows (check your local listings for specific air times):
Location Race Date First Air Date Second Air Date Sebring March 19 May 7 May 11 Road Atlanta April 17 June 18 June 22 Pike's Peak June 26 August 20 August 24 Sears Point July 24 Sept. 17 Sept. 21 Portland July 31 Nov. 25 Nov. 30 San Diego Nov. 6 Dec. 17 Dec. 21
The Women's Global GT Series schedule is as follows (television arrangements for the series are still pending):
April 18 Road Atlanta July 25 Sears Point Raceway August 1 Portland International Raceway September 18 Road Atlanta October 10 Laguna Seca Raceway November 7 San Diego Grand Prix
Formula and Fenders __________________
Mike Conte, for whom Lynx Racing will field a car in the 1999 KOOL/ Toyota Atlantic Championship, has an interesting blend of formula and fenders on his plate during the season. In addition to racing a formula car in the Atlantic series, Conte will campaign the #17 Porsche 3.8 RSR in the GT class of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) under his own Contemporary Motorsports banner. The car will be prepared by Dennis Aase's Aasco Performance, and co-driven by Bruno Lambert. The car will make its debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring with Conte and Lambert co-driving. Conte will run the car at Sebring, Petit LeMans and Laguna Seca while Lambert will campaign the entire ALMS season. "Sprint racing in an open-wheel car and endurance racing in a closed-wheel car are the opposite ends of the motorsports spectrum," says Conte. "But I'm a firm believer in a driver getting as much seat time as possible, and mastering both disciplines will make you a better driver overall." In one of those curious twists motorsports seems so full of, Aase was a driver (along with Chris Cord and Willy T. Ribbs) for Dan Gurney's championship-winning team of IMSA GTU/GTO Toyota Celicas. PR for that effort was handled by Peter Frey, who now has the same duties at Lynx Racing. In addition, Lynx Racing's 1997 Atlantic champion, Alex Barron, now drives for Gurney's All-American Racers in the CART FedEX Championship. Taking it one step further, Conte's co-driver in the Porsche effort, Bruno Lambert, is also driving for Kent Stacy's S3 Racing in the Star Formula Mazda Championship, the same team that fields Lynx Racing driver Sara Senske's #19 Formula Mazda. The television schedule for the 12 Hours of Sebring is as follows:
March 20 ESPN 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Live race start March 20 ESPN2 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Live race in progress March 20 ESPN2 10:00 p.m. to 10L30 p.m. Live race finish March 27 ESPN2 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Taped highlight show
A Driver's Day Off _______________
What would you suppose a race driver, accustomed to a daily diet of high-g turns and rocket sled acceleration does on his day off? More of the same, of course. During a recent break in the extensive Lynx Racing off-season test program, Buddy Rice and a number of mechanics from the team took time to visit the Magic Mountain theme park in Southern California, home to an extensive collection of the world's most terrifying roller coasters. After a day of ups, downs, twists and turns that would have a fighter pilot turning green, Rice's favorite rides turned out to be the "Viper" and "Riddler's Revenge." "Riddler's Revenge definitely makes you feel the most queasy when you come off, which is what I look for in a roller coaster," said Rice. "It's so close to what it feels like to go through the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca that I found myself reaching for the shifter and wondering where the steering wheel was."