CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca sets 2008 event date

DATE SET FOR RETURN OF CHAMP CAR TO MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA May 16-18 Festival of Speed to Feature Champ Car race on Sunday MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 20, 2007) -- The Champ Car World Series returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 16-18,...

May 16-18 Festival of Speed to Feature Champ Car race on Sunday

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 20, 2007) -- The Champ Car World Series returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 16-18, part of the Monterey Festival of Speed.

Fans are in for a double treat that weekend, as the Champ Car World Series will race Sunday, May 18, while the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series races Saturday, May 17.

The Monterey Festival of Speed will mark the 23rd time the Champ Cars have raced in Monterey, having previously raced there every year from 1983 to 2004.

Since 2004, several million dollars in track and spectator improvements have been made, including the complete repaving of the circuit, increasing run-off areas in all corners, relocating the Turn 9 bridge and adding the Red Bull Energy Center, a state-of-the art hospitality complex overlooking the 2..238-mile circuit.

"The fans spoke and we listened," said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "Champ Car has a loyal and vocal fan base that has taken every opportunity to let us know they want to see the country's fastest open-wheel cars competing on country's premier road course. Now they have their wish."

Fans will get a sneak peak at the Champ Car World Series March 13-14, 2008 when the series holds a pre-season test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Additional details on the pre-season test and Monterey Festival of Speed will be released in the near future.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2007. The world-renowned raceway has been operated since its inception by SCRAMP, a not-for-profit 501C(3) corporation. Each race season, SCRAMP donates its net proceeds to the volunteer groups that help put on the races. Last season, SCRAMP donated over $400,000 to those local charities and civic organizations.

Champ Car World Series -- Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Quote Sheet

Graham Rahal, Driver #2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone: "I'm thrilled to get a chance to race Champ Cars at Mazda Raceway. My dad [three-time champion Bobby Rahal] won there four times in a row, but of course that was before I was born! However, I still have memories of going out to the track with him when I was a kid. The track's a really great layout and I ran pretty well there in A1GP, but that was nothing like when I tested the DP01 there in March. It's a very fast circuit that is really demanding."

Paul Tracy, Driver #3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone: "It's great news that we'll racing again at Laguna. It's a drivers' track with some tricky corners and a lot of elevation changes. It always seems to be a big event when we run there, even for testing like we did earlier this year. We had a good crowd and I'm sure that they'll come out in droves for our 2008 race."

Paul Stoddart, Team Owner Minardi Team USA: "Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the most famous tracks in America. The layout is very European and it really tests the drivers. I'm certain we'll have a great event there in 2008, as I know our team, and Robert Doornbos in particular, enjoyed the testing there earlier this year. I'm glad that Champ Car is seeking to create a balance of street and permanent road courses, and U.S. and international venues, on the schedule. The diversity keeps everyone in check, and is one of the important aspects of Champ Car that helps distinguish it from other racing series."

Derrick Walker, Co-Owner Team Australia: "I think it's important that Champ Car has a good balance between the street courses and the traditional road circuits. Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca has been a part of Champ Car's history for a long time and it's great to be going back there, especially since they have made a lot of great improvements to the track. It's really a nice place and the fans are going to enjoy our racing there again."

Jimmy Vasser, Co-Owner PKV Racing: "The Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca holds a lot of special memories for me. I locked up my Champ Car championship title there in 1996, and followed it up with a win at Laguna in 1997. The '97 race was especially nice since my teammate, Alex Zanardi, clinched his first Series championship that day by finishing third. I've always thought of Laguna as a home event. Certainly I'm pleased to see Champ Car racing there again and I now look forward to trying to earn a few wins there as an owner."

Al Speyer, Executive Director of Motorsports Bridgestone Firestone North America: "Bridgestone Motorsport is delighted to learn that the Champ Car World Series will return to the fantastic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2008. We certainly have a lot of great memories at that track, and I think that the news likely brought a smile to the face of anyone who has been there. Our dealers, not just on the West Coast but throughout the country, have always been enthusiastic supporters of our races at Laguna Seca in the past, and I expect that next year will be no different. From a tire perspective, we have a great deal of experience racing at this track over the years, and we have good tire data for the Panoz DP01 based on last year's testing and Spring Training event at Laguna. So we are confident that we will have just the right tires when the Champ Cars take to the track. Bridgestone Motorsport is focusing on the many positive aspects of this announcement, and we are looking forward to establishing new traditions on the Monterey Peninsula.

-credit: mrls

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Graham Rahal , Paul Stoddart , Robert Doornbos