IndyCar Racing Has Rich History at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Mazda Road to Indy Keeps Tradition Alive on Central California Coast
MONTEREY, Calif. March 10, 2016 – The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season-opening event this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., elicits fond memories from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where some of the biggest names in open-wheel racing pulled into victory lane.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca annually hosted an Indy Car race from 1983 through 2004. It was under sanction of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) from 1983-2003 and Champ Car World Series in 2004. The great teams and drivers of the era all made their mark there during the 22 years the event was held in the rolling hills just east of Monterey Bay.
The first race, held Oct. 23, 1983, was won in dominating fashion by Teo Fabi. The Italian driver put his No. 33 Forsythe Racing March/Cosworth on the pole and went on to lead 95 of 98 laps on the original nine-turn, 1.9-mile track configuration. The final race, held Sept. 12, 2004, on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile layout, was won by Patrick Carpentier of the then-renamed Forsythe Championship Racing. The Canadian started from the outside of the front row, took the lead on lap 41 and led the balance of the 79-lap contest. It was back-to-back Mazda Raceway victories for Carpentier, who led all 87 laps in 2003, for his fifth and, ultimately, final victory in the Champ Car World Series.
Below is a brief look at who won the rest of the races in between:
▪ Team Penske’s six trips to victory lane stands as the most wins for a single organization. Danny Sullivan won twice (1988, the first on the newly configured track; and 1990), as did Paul Tracy (1993-94) while Rick Mears (1989) and Helio Castroneves (2000) each earned one victory.
▪ Bobby Rahal won four consecutive races from 1984-87, all for Truesports. Rahal returned to victory lane at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca three more times as a team owner (Team Rahal), twice with driver Brian Herta (1998-99) and once with Max Papis (2001).
▪ Newman/Haas Racing also captured three Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca titles. Michael Andretti clinched the 1991 championship with his first win at the raceway and backed it up the next year with the top-podium spot. Christiano De Matta earned the third victory for the organization in 2002.
▪ Target Chip Ganassi Racing earned two victories at the raceway. Alex Zanardi took what should have been an impossible line through The Corkscrew on the last lap of the 1996 race, somehow made it happen and, in doing so, passed Bryan Herta and took the checkered flag. That move, known simply as “The Pass,” helped cement Zanardi’s legendary status. Teammate Jimmy Vasser took the win in 1997.
▪ Jim Hall Racing earned one win at Mazda Raceway, with Gil De Ferran taking the checkered flag first.
The open-wheel tradition continues on at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca through the Mazda Road to Indy, which also opens its 2016 season this weekend in St. Petersburg. The program is a three-level competition feeder system, with all cars powered by Mazda engines, which provides drivers and crews the opportunity to move to the next level based on experience and talent, with the final goal of competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The three series are: Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda; the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires; and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. This year’s event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will take place Sept. 9-11 and will include a Salute to the Military celebration.
SCRAMP celebrates 60 consecutive seasons of hosting world-class motorsports events in 2016. This year’s schedule continues the decades-long tradition of showcasing national and world championship series’ of sports car, open wheel and motorcycle racing, as well as one of the most prestigious annual historic car racing events in the world.
Tickets for every major event on the 2016 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca calendar are on sale now. Click HERE for more information or call the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Ticket Office at 831.242.8200.
About Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was built by and has been managed and operated since its inception in 1957, when it was known as Laguna Seca Raceway, by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP). SCRAMP, a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation, is the official concessionaire of the world-renowned raceway that is owned by the public via the Parks Department of the County of Monterey since 1974.
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