A WEEKEND OF CHALK AND CHEESE -- PART 2 / THE RACES THE CHEESE WAS A BIT OFF, BUT THE CHALK WAS FINE Lynx Racing drivers Sara Senske and Mike Conte - participating in the "different as chalk and cheese" weekend called The American Le ...
A WEEKEND OF CHALK AND CHEESE -- PART 2 / THE RACES THE CHEESE WAS A BIT OFF, BUT THE CHALK WAS FINE Lynx Racing drivers Sara Senske and Mike Conte - participating in the "different as chalk and cheese" weekend called The American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma Presented By Toshiba Copiers and Fax -- flipped a coin to see who got all the bad luck during the weekend... and Conte lost. Senske opened the proceedings by qualifying fifth for the Star Mazda Best Western Championship race on Saturday, and then ran a good, hard race in her #19 Lynx Racing/S3 Racing Formula Mazda to finish fifth and remain fifth in the championship points battle. Then she capped off an entirely respectable Saturday by qualifying her #20 Panoz Esperante seventh in the 16-car field of fast female drivers from around the world that make up the entry list for the Women's Global GT Series created by Lyn St. James and Don Panoz. "Going back and forth between the Formula Mazda and the Panoz sports car for several days was a real education in how to adapt quickly," says Senske. "But I also learned things about the track that were useful in both cars. I feel that getting this much seat time in different kinds of cars will help me when I take the next step up the ladder." Mike Conte, meanwhile, was struggling with an uncooperative Porsche GT car, the same car, oddly enough, that he and co-driver Bruno Lambert drove to a podium finish in the Superflow 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year. After going back and forth with the setup and struggling with various mechanical gremlins, the duo qualified 12th. On Sunday, race day, the Porsche's computerized 'brain' had a nervous breakdown on the grid moments before the race. This drained the battery, but they were able to jump-start the car and take the green flag. Then they got tagged from behind after several laps and the rear bumper parted company with the rest of the bodywork. When the car came in for an early stop, pit officials refused to let them jump-start the car again, and the team lost eight laps while a crewmember went in search of a fresh battery. Once they got the #17 Contemporary Motorsports Porsche fired up again; Conte went out and turned the quickest lap of the race in the GT class - by more than 2 seconds. Still, when all the smoke (literal and figurative) cleared, Conte and Lambert wound up finishing 37th in a field of 42 cars, and next to last in the GT class. "If it weren't for the fact that I have to drive in the Atlantic race at Trois Rivieres next weekend I'd go out and get drunk for a couple of days," said Conte. "On the other hand, once we got the car going, it was really fast. That's sort of straining for a silver lining, but what else is there to do on a weekend like this? Ah, well, a race driver's life is nothing if not a constant series of challenges, and by the time I get to Quebec, this will seem like ancient history... and not a moment too soon!" Senske's next event is another Star Mazda / Women's GT weekend at the Portland International Raceway on July 30 - August 1. That same weekend, Conte will re-join his Lynx Racing teammate, Buddy Rice, for the seventh round of the 12-event KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship, the Grand Prix Player's du Trois Rivieres.
Lynx Racing, owned by Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty and now entering its ninth year of operation, is both a championship-winning racing team and a unique driver development program. The team's mission is to seek out young drivers with championship potential and provide them with the training, resources and opportunity to realize that potential and make the jump to auto racing's 'major leagues.' Lynx alumni include CART FedEx drivers Patrick Carpentier (Player's/ Forsythe), Alex Barron (who raced last weekend in the U.S. 500 for the Marlboro Penske team) and Memo Gidley (Alpine/ Walker).