Imrie begins race season in California Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has returned home to Canada after beginning his 2002 race season in California at the Laguna Seca Raceway last weekend. The nineteen-year-old, who graduated from karting ...
Imrie begins race season in California
Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has returned home to Canada after beginning his 2002 race season in California at the Laguna Seca Raceway last weekend. The nineteen-year-old, who graduated from karting to compete in the Formula Dodge National Championship this year after winning a Barber-CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) Scholarship in January, started his campaign with twelfth and fifth-place finishes in a pair of races held March 9-10.
Reflecting on the weekend, Imrie sounded somewhat in awe of the track nestled in the hills near Monterery. Much of the circuit, characterized by flowing curves, gently winds its way up hill leading to a twisting, six-story plunge known as "The Corkscrew". While Imrie said he very much liked the track, he admitted he found it tough to learn, but you'd never guess it from his performance. He seemed quite at home on the Californian asphalt, setting the fourth fastest time in pre-race practice and building confidence before qualifying for Saturday's race.
Unfortunately, qualifying didn't shape up the way he'd hoped and he would start the weekend's first race from ninth, saying, "I wasn't as fast as I was in practice. I just didn't get in a really good lap."
In the race, however, he appeared to be back on form, moving up gradually and eyeing a possible top-five finish. With two laps remaining, he sat seventh and was in the midst of a long train of cars when someone ahead slowed up.
"A bunch of us were running all together when someone checked up (braked) in a corner," Imrie reported. "Everyone had to brake and when I did, I got hit from behind and got spun around. I had to sit and wait while all these cars were going past. I ended up twelfth."
On Sunday, rain rolled in and Imrie, who had never before driven a race car in the rain, stunned everyone. In his first wet session, he came up second on the time sheets to start the race on the front row.
As race time approached, conditions were changing and it was anyone's guess as to whether it would continue to rain or skies would clear. Imrie put his money on rain and kept his car set up for wet conditions, but the clouds began to dissipate as the twenty-four cars rolled out for the race and he realized he'd guessed wrong. He hung on for much of the race, but in the closing laps he could no longer avoid the inevitable and fell back to finish fifth. Still, an excellent result and a solid start to the season.
The next meeting on the Formula Dodge National Championship schedule will take Imrie to Fontana, California and the California Speedway, April 11-13 (Thursday - Saturday).