Laguna Seca: Dave MacDonald race notes

MacDonald Achieves Goal and Finishes His First Pro Race In SPEED World Challenge TC Action Sunday at Laguna MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 16 - Karting star Dave MacDonald of North Canton, Ohio, a 21-year-old senior at Ohio State University, not only ...

MacDonald Achieves Goal and Finishes His First Pro Race In SPEED World Challenge TC Action Sunday at Laguna

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 16 - Karting star Dave MacDonald of North Canton, Ohio, a 21-year-old senior at Ohio State University, not only successfully completed his first professional auto race on Sunday, he advanced 10 positions in the process.

Even though he only had about 40 laps of practice in Tindol Motorsports' No. 92 Mazda Protégé sponsored by Sparco, Oakley and Xtrac, MacDonald qualified 24th in the field of 38 SCCA SPEED World Challenge touring cars at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca here on Saturday in a field that saw the top 11 cars all better the former track record.

Staying out of accidents can be a huge challenge in these events, but on Sunday MacDonald not only brought the car home in one piece, he finished 14th in the 26-lap/50-minute race.

That was only three positions behind the team's lead driver, Charles Espenlaub of Lutz, Fla., who finished 11th in a Mazda 6. Espenlaub won the race at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada last month.

The team owner, Chris Tindol, was very pleased with MacDonald's performance. "It was a very respectable finish," Tindol said. "He drove a car that wasn't supposed to be competitive, and he made it competitive. I think it's the beginning of a great future for him."

The start of every race on this picturesque 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course is an accident waiting to happen, especially in turn one, but MacDonald made it through. He did get a dent in the rear of his car on that lap, but it wasn't anything significant, and by lap two he had already advanced two spots. He moved up two more spots on the next two laps, battling Scott Bradley of San Jose, Calif. in the process. He then settled into 20th for awhile, running between Rick Snyder of Arvada, Colo. in a Dodge SRT-4 and one of his Tindol Motorsports teammates, Johnny Kanavas of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

A driver he was later to dice with, his friend Michael Galati of Olmstead, Ohio, pitted at that point and one other driver went off course to move MacDonald into 18th by lap eight. MacDonald was too busy to notice, however, as he was doing his best to pass Snyder.

He got the job done on lap 12 to move into 17th. Another driver fell by the wayside on lap 17 to move him into 16th. Kevin McKee of San Francisco was ahead of him at that point, while Gilati had rebounded and had his Mercedes right on the rear bumper of MacDonald's Mazda.

After a battle between the two buddies, Gilati got by on lap 21 to push MacDonald back to 17th, but two laps later he was 15th when one of his teammates, Ken Dobson of Carmel Valley, Calif. pitted and Hugh Stewart of Massapequa, N.Y. fell back. More attrition on lap 24 moved him up to 14th for the checkered flag two laps later.

"Our goal was to finish, and I'm really happy both for myself and for Tindol Motorsports," MacDonald said afterwards. "I want to give a big thanks to my family and everyone on the team, and especially to Chris Tindol and my mechanic, Caesar Gaxiola. It was his first race with this team too, and he helped with the set-up.

"The car was really good; it was very predictable," he continued. "The power was good; Sunbelt Engines prepped the engine perfectly.

"I had quite a battle with Michael Galati, who is a good friend of mine, and that was a lot of fun.

"I got the dent in the rear on the first lap at the top of the corkscrew. There was a good bit of bumping and pushing going on."

MacDonald said the car got even better as the race progressed.

"The car was even better at the end of the race than it was at the beginning," he noted. "It was really good in the downhill section, and not as good in the uphill section. I was losing a lot of time after the tires got hot. I couldn't power down all the time; I had to go easy for a lap and let the tires cool off a bit, and then go harder on the next lap."

Still, he was able to choose his battles and conduct them wisely, which is uncommon for a rookie.

"I had a good battle with Rick Snyder, who was in a Dodge Neon," MacDonald noted. "I watched him for awhile, and finally made the pass stick by outbraking him in the first turn.

"I had another good battle with Scott Bradley in the No. 6 Mazda, and another good battle with one of the Audis," he added.

MacDonald said he learned a lot.

"The car changed like I thought it would, but I was surprised by how much it changed during the course of the race," he disclosed. "I learned how to take care of my tires, and tried to adapt my driving to the changing conditions of my tires as the laps mounted up.

"I didn't expect so much dirt to be kicked up on the course," he added. "On different laps you had different curbs you could get up on or ones you couldn't use depending on if there was dirt on them on that lap or not."

Since he was driving a Mazda, MacDonald and everyone else on the team was hoping that Mazda could win the series' manufacturers' point championship. Acura got those honors however, finishing with 77 points to Mazda's 73, at the conclusion of the tenth and final race in the series this year.

MacDonald and his twin brother, Mark, have driven karts at the highest national level since they were 10, but this was Dave's first professional race.

The event was won by John Angelone of Bridgewater, N.J. in an Audi.

Sunday's race was part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships. SPEED will broadcast the race on a same-day/tape-delayed basis at 6 p.m. Eastern. Other information can be found at,,, and


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Series PWC
Drivers Michael Galati , Ken Dobson , Hugh Stewart , Scott Bradley , Kevin McKee , Johnny Kanavas , Chris Tindol , Rick Snyder , John Angelone