Thursday, October 29, 2009

MPG Track Day 2009: Along For The Ride

Signature logo tower of the Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California. The track, originally known as California Speedway, holds the distinction as having the fastest recorded qualification and at speed during the race, speed records ... both records were established by CART IndyCars on the main 2.0 mi (3.23 km) "D-Shaped Oval". Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

MPG Track Day 2009: Along For The Ride

I took a ride with a photo-journalist named Jon Barrett around the infield road track at Auto Club Speedway during the recent 2009 Track Day put on by Motor Press Guild (MPG).

Star Mazda Series standout, Joel Miller of Hesperia, California, sits in the driver's seat (P1) as we check out the track and get some driving tips from a budding professional open-wheel race car driver. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

A carload full of Journalists ready to see the infield road course at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Actually, I was able to take several rides with people (journalists, and professional drivers) throughout the two days of testing new automobiles provided by manufacturers for the motor press writers to get to know, and write about. To be able to drive ... then ride, imparts balance and perspective.

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

I write about the ride with Jon because this was a man who was prepared to document his experience through the use of a pedestrian style (nothing fancy) digital camera. He had a friend who had designed a specialized camera mount that employed a large suction cup to hold the camera to the inside windshield of any car Jon decided to drive ("guesstimated" cost at about $70.00).

Motor Press Guild's Track Day 2009: Every year, the Motor Press Guild (an association for people involved with motorsports, automobile manufacturing & marketing, and observers of automoblie culture) organizes a day on a race track for its members. /// The automobile manufacturers bring out many of their new cars, trucks and SUVs, and full journalist members of the MPG are invited to drive them on the track and on the streets that surround the track. The event is a great opportunity to drive vehicles that occupy the similar demographic back-to-back for direct comparison, to explore the incredible range of vehicles available, and to refresh one's journalistic memory about what's out there to meet the demands of a consuming public. /// Additionally, it's a fantastic networking and social event, a chance to see old friends and make new ones. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Director Of Communications of Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Dean Case (left), ducks in to consult with Mazda professional driver, Jeremy Barnes just before having me sit in the passenger seat for some "hot" laps around the track in the Mazdaspeed 6 Safety/Pace Car! Video Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The car was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR-Touring sedan and one of the more interesting activities a Journalist could participate in is to fill the P2 seat in a track test car driven by someone who is familiar with, and likes the car they are taking out onto the track. The process allows one the additional dimension to take in the emotional involvement of the driver, himself ... along with the behavior of the car in a road test stress situation in the many and varied corners laid out by MPG track management members, Don Fuller and John Dinkel.

Infield course a pictured by Auto Club Speedway. The course, as laid out by Don Fuller and John Dinkel, restructured some of the corners on the West end (left side of photo) of the track to allow the challenge of a double apex. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR-Touring sedan on the infield track at Auto Club Speedway. On-Board Video Credit: MPG Member, Jon Barrett (2009)

It may seem strange to say that sitting in the passenger seat was as satisfying an experience as actually driving a nice, road-worthy vehicle (many, actually) but isn't that the ultimate position a chronicling observer takes ... P2, with a view?

2009 CURB/Agaganian/3G Racing IRL driver, Richard Antinucci and NowPublic's Motorsports Feature Page manager, Edmund Jenks, after three laps in a $290,000, 680hp, Murcielago Lamborghini LP670-4. An "E" ticket ride to remember ... and Richard loved the experience too. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

For any MPG Track Day, being in the passenger seat is an opportunity and position never to be missed. It was really special to be along for the ride.

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tokyo 2009: The Greening Of Zoom-Zoom With MAZDA Sky Engines, Transmission

The Kiyora (which translates to clean and pure) might just be the showstopper when it is revealed to the press on October 21. Mazda has just released new photos and details of the Kiyora to a crowd of mixed reactions. The Japanese Anime styling seems to provoke love-hate emotions from the Mazda community. Is it a hatchback? Why is it smiling at me? It looks very leafy. These are just a few of the comments that the Kiyora photos have gained so far. Caption & Image Credit: All Small Cars

Tokyo 2009: The Greening Of Zoom-Zoom With MAZDA Sky Engines, Transmission

Way back in March 2007, Mazda set forth a program known as "Sustainable Zoom-Zoom upon which a long-term course was charted. Mazda and its design, engineering, and marketing departments would create automobile technology that would excite, look inviting to drive, fun to drive enough to want to drive them again, and all of this with the overlay of being improved in terms of a sustainable future for cars, people, and the Earth.

The SKY-G is the Mazda company's take on a thrifty gasoline engine. Although the company hasn't yet released any specifications on the motor other than displacement (1.3 litre), it does claim the all-new direct-injection engine delivers a 15 percent increase in fuel economy and torque over the company's present 2.0-liter I-4. If installed in a Mazda3, the engine could purportedly return fuel economy similar to a Mazda2. Caption & Image Credit: Automobile Magazine

The Sky-Drive transmission: A six-speed automatic with a revolutionary lockup clutch that will be faster than any automatic gearbox to date. Caption & Image Credit: All Small Cars

At the 41st Tokyo Motor Show which starts today, Saturday, October 24, 2009, Mazda will debut its Mazda SKY concept, and Mazda SKYTECH to the masses that will walk the floor to see what is new. Mazda SKYTECH is defined as "Innovative technology for driving pleasure and excellent environmental performance", and what will be premiered to the world at the Tokyo show will be two engines and one transmission wraped up in a Kiyora Concept set of wheels.

This excerpted and edited from the Mazda Website -

Concept Car "Mazda Kiyora"

“Mazda Kiyora” is a near-future, compact concept car engineered to simultaneously achieve next-generation environmental performance alongside Mazda's trademark driving fun. It is powered by the next-generation “Mazda SKY-G* 1.3L” direct injection gasoline engine coupled with the next-generation six-speed “Mazda SKY-Drive”* automatic transmission. We also added Mazda's unique idling stop system “i-stop” and a regenerative braking system. Combined with the 100kg weight reduction and improved aerodynamics, these technologies enable the “Mazda Kiyora” to achieve ultra-low fuel consumption of 32km/L under Japan's 10-15 mode fuel consumption.
Reference Here>>

The SKY-D diesel engine: Offers a 20 percent jump in fuel efficiency over the current 2.2 liter. This improvement is achieved by a changed combustion chamber shape and further optimized fuel delivery. A two-stage turbocharger and piezo injectors also help to improve fuel economy. According to Mazda, this engine installed in a Mazda6 could return fuel economy figures comparable to a Mazda2. Caption & Image Credit: Automobile Magazine

The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, which opened to the press on Oct. 21, was once the premier auto show in Asia. The 41st edition of this Tokyo based event has been dramatically reduced in size. Many of the major American and European automakers are skipping it due to world economic woes and issues with wholesale Governmental takeovers and major changes in management philosophy. Japanese automakers are continuing to support the show, however, with important introductions of new models, green manufacturing, and design concepts.

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Auto-Culture & Decision Making In A Gen Y World

Magda Wierzycka, the CEO of Sygnia Asset Management, writes on Moneyweb’s blog about Generation Y and their characteristics. Generation Y are those born between 1982 and 1995 of Generation X and Baby Boomer parents. /// She describes this generation as growing up amidst ‘unprecedented prosperity’ with access to ‘better, more rounded education’. Furthermore they are: ‘extreme[ly] technology savvy’, ‘very family orientated’, ‘demanding and outspoken employees’ with an ‘overdeveloped sense of entitlement’, they ’struggle to deal with failure or criticism’ and ‘flounder if left unmanaged or unsupervised’. Caption & Image Credit: dirkvisser/Brightest Young Minds

Auto-Culture & Decision Making In A Gen Y World

In a study released today by AutoPacific - a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm, some interesting and surprising characteristics and purchasing traits reveal themselves and may be useful to those who desire to appeal to an increasingly important market segment.

Many assumptions like the popular belief that the Gen Y crowd exclusively prefers compact and energy efficient cars are somewhat dispelled through the study. Over half of Gen Y are considering the purchase of a mid-size car or mid-size crossover SUV. They expect that technology will improve fuel economy and environmental friendliness and allow them to purchase a vehicle that is sized to meet their personal needs.

“Don’t be fooled by the growth of certain segments over the years,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, the research firm that conducted the study. “The Compact Car segment shows sales growth, yet a new Toyota Corolla is similar in size to an older Toyota Camry. Vehicles have gotten larger over time but segments have not been redefined. Ultimately, Generation Y consumers are purchasing vehicles that are sized appropriately to their needs and lifestyle.”

The study entitled “The Generation Y Opportunity”, which come from data gathered from AutoPacific’s annual survey of over 32,000 new car and light truck buyers in the United States, looks closely at Gen Y recent buyers of new vehicles and how they compare to older generations. In many ways, Gen Y is following in the footsteps of their Baby Boomer parents, but in more extreme ways. The study details current Gen Y new car buyers and the future market.

$1.5M Russian SUV Features Diamonds, Whale Penis Leather - That's all you really need to know about the $1.5 million Dartz Prombron Monaco Red Diamond Edition. Yes, the diamond-encrusted white gold gauges and gold-plated bulletproof windows are impressive, but seriously, whale penis leather interior. /// The already bulletproof and wildly over-the-top 8.1 liter GM V8-powered Dartz Kombat T98 is getting a name change to Prombron and along with it will come a complete and brain-maimingly bourgeoisie upgrade with the Monaco Red Diamond Edition. The world's most expensive ultra-luxury SUV will debut at the 2010 Top Marques Monaco show with luxe features crazy enough to make a Maybach blush. Caption & Image Credit: Jolopnik

This excerpted and edited from a press release issued by AutoPacific -

Survey Shows Generation Y Frequently Multitasking While Driving
AutoPacific, “The Generation Y Opportunity”, released for publication - October 21, 2009

Willing to embrace new brands, new technology and alternative powertrains, Generation Y will redefine the automotive market. A just released study on Generation Y new vehicle buyers in the United States shows Generation Y consumers are more likely than the generations before them to consider purchasing a Chinese or Indian branded vehicle, more willing to accept hybrid powertrains, and more likely to want the latest entertainment technology in their vehicle.

As the largest generation since the Baby Boomers continues to gain spending power and enter the new car market, which automakers will win their confidence? AutoPacific’s study underscores the opportunities for automakers to reach Generation Y consumers as they move through their Teen, Young Adult and Young Family life-stages.

“Growing up with continuously evolving technology and electronics has given Generation Y a unique ability to adapt easily to change, a willingness to accept new brands, and an expectation that their vehicle provide the best of what is available,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

Though many Generation Y consumers would choose a trip around the world over a luxury vehicle, Generation Y does expect that the vehicle they buy will be more than just basic transportation. “Generation Y is more likely than older generations to own portable electronics, more likely to research their vehicle options on the Internet, and an astonishing 29% of those surveyed are more likely to frequently multi-task while driving," continues Peterson. "They know what’s out there, they know the economical and environmental problems we face, and their vehicle expectations reflect that knowledge.”
The AutoPacific Generation Y Opportunity is conducted annually to determine who Generation Y buyers are and what they want from their future cars, including size, engine, transmission and attributes like entertainment features, luxury features, in-vehicle communications, comfort, and convenience features.
Reference Here>>

Maybe the Russian-made Dartz Prombron isn't exactly the chief target in the luxury car segment for Gen Y'ers, but at this price ( $1.5 million) it had better have bluetooth iPOD compatibility, integrated hands-free cellphone technology, and a mount to hold the Apple MAC that is accessing the internet via a MiFi internet hotspot so that they can be plugged into Twitter while cruising down to Glamis for a week-end of radical Dune-ing!

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, October 18, 2009

At BlogWorld: It's FORD Auto-Culture, We Wrote

Ford Motor Company booth display depicting the design inspirations incorporated into the 2010 Ford Taurus. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

At BlogWorld: It's FORD Auto-Culture, We Wrote

One finds the most interesting and unexpected opportunities to learn and write about modern automobile culture ... even at a tradeshow entitled BlogWorld & New Media EXPO ... BlogWorld.

Regator is a directory of the web's best blog posts hand picked and organized into nearly 500 channels covering all subjects. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009) is your inside source for everything local. From pets to careers, entertainment to sports, health to parenting and hundreds of more topics, Examiners across the country contribute unique, original content to enhance your life in your local city – wherever that may be. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Social Media, Facebook, Google Ads, Twitter were featured topics conference tracks and classes were built around while the EXPO floor featured technology to aid bloggers to find stories, source digital video content, and syndicate internet published material with company names like Redlasso, Regator, Examiner, BlogCatalog, and Lijit. Located in the middle of all of this New Media technology, the only remaining pure free-enterprize based and managed American automobile manufacturer, had a display.

Ford Motor Company, took the opportunity at a tradeshow for writers to learn about writing, publishing in the digital age to introduce its new Ford Taurus for 2010 at the BlogWorld & New Media EXPO, Las Vegas Convention Center October 15-17, 2009. In the booth, one was greeted by enthusiastic representatives from the marketing department of the public-owned and professionally managed Ford Motor Company who were here, in Las Vegas from Detroit for the show.

Ford Motor Company booth featuring the 2010 Ford Taurus aided by corporate representatives from Detroit. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

In the following video ... Ford Taurus, Product Marketing Manager, Pei Wen Hsu, presents and demonstrates the new technology safety feature, the radar assisted blind spot alert system with a visible alert embedded in the side-view mirrors. This system is called BLIS (Blind spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert.

This Excerpted and edited from Ford Motor Company -

2010 For Taurus - It's America's Most Innovative Full-Size Sedan

All-new for 2010 and ready to take on the world's best, with an upscaled new design, impeccable driving dynamics and class-leading technologies which include Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, BLIS (Blind spot Information System) with Cross Traffic Alert, MyKey, Ford SYNC®, SecuriCode™ Keyless Entry, Easy Fuel™ capless fuel filler system and automatic high-beam headlamps.

No line overlooked. No curve a mistake, inside and out, the Taurus once again revolutionizes the way cars look, feel and drive – projected up to 28 mpg hwy.* The new Taurus SHO is tuned for All-Wheel-Drive performance, showcasing the breakthrough twin-turbo, direct-injection EcoBoost™ V6 engine delivering horsepower with improved fuel economy and lower emissions.
Reference Here>>

The EDJE inside a 2010 Mustang GT - Dark Grey with Dark Red leather interior - nice! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Outside the convention hall, Ford, with the help of Motor City Solutions, a company that assists Ford to have cars available for convention attendees to test drive, had the 2010 Taurus SHO, Mustang GT, Focus, and a Lincoln MKT cross-over SUV available and ready to test along with a Motor City Solutions observer riding comfortably in the passenger seat.

The Mustang GT (pictured above)? Yes, it was as quick and tight as it looks!

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scott Sharp Makes Jump To Race Team Owner/Driver

Extreme Speed Motorsports to compete with a Ferrari F430 GT in the GT2 Class in the American Le Mans Series 2010 season. Left to right: Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, Scott Sharp, Owner/Driver Extreme Speed Motorsports, and Ed Brown, Driver Extreme Speed Motorsports [ctrl-click to launch introduction video]. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Scott Sharp Makes Jump To Race Team Owner/Driver

On Saturday, October 10, 2009, Scott Sharp announced that he will become an owner of a new race team to compete in the hotly contested GT2 Class in the American Le Mans Series for the 2010 season.

Sharp joins a growing number of modern era drivers who look to extend their career in motorsports by transitioning into the phase of team ownership while continuing to drive for at least a season. Other successful notable contemporary drivers who at one time, or another, raced against Scott, include Michael Andretti (IRL), Adrian Fernandez (ALMS), and Gil de Ferran (ALMS) ... who just drove his last professional race as a team owner/driver to win against Adrian Fernandez by .4 seconds here at MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca.

The team will race under the name of "Extreme Speed Motorsports" and have as its first named driver, Ed Brown, with a teammate drivers yet to be signed. They will field a Ferrari F430 GT and the car will carry sponsorship from the Patron Spirits Company.

An excited Scott Sharp, Owner/Driver Extreme Speed Motorsports (left), and Ed Brown, Driver Extreme Speed Motorsports (right) just before the announcement of the new team to compete in the GT2 Class of the American Le Mans Series. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

This excerpted and edited from Americam Le Mans Series -

Extreme Speed Motorsports to field Ferrari for Ed Brown

Champion race car driver Scott Sharp, who has made his mark everywhere from Trans-Am and Champ Car to IndyCar and the American Le Mans Series, announced Saturday his latest venture in motorsports. The Patrón Highcroft Racing star has created and will own a new race team called Extreme Speed Motorsports that will compete in the American Le Mans Series’ GT2 class.

The team will race a Ferrari 430 GTC and be sponsored by The Patrón Spirits Company (Tequila Patrón) and supported by Ferrari Corse Clienti. Sharp has also named the team’s first driver - Ed Brown, currently a Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama driver and American Le Mans Series GT Challenge class driver with ORBIT Racing. Co-drivers will be announced at a later date.
Sharp has scored three victories with teammate Brabham for Patrón Highcroft Racing in the 2009 American Le Mans Series and also contested this year’s Indianapolis 500 aboard a Patrón-sponsored entry.

Team sponsor Patrón is a longtime supporter of motorsports, and brings a popular presence at American Le Mans Series races.

“We’re excited and proud to associate the Tequila Patrón name with Extreme Speed Motorsports and Ferrari,” commented Matt Carroll, Patrón’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Our association with motorsports, and the iconic brands and top-notch teams in this premier racing series, fits perfectly with our ultra-premium Patrón brand. We’re looking forward to another great season in 2010.”

Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series added, “The announcement of this new team fulfills the vision we had when we launched the Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama. This is especially gratifying because it involves individuals who have participated with us at other levels of competition, and are ready to do battle now in the Series’ most competitive class.

“When we created the GT Challenge class, it was designed so those drivers could progress to GT2. Clearly that’s what has happened in this case, and it is evidence that the plan is working. Ed and Scott form a unique team. They are the perfect pair to be the first to announce a venture of this type. I suspect this is only the first example of a new American Le Mans Series program growing out of the IMSA and Series ladder system."
Reference Here>>

The American Le Mans Series opens its season in 2010 with the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on March 20.

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, October 11, 2009

IndyCar: On The 10th Day, 10th Month ... #10 Car Wins It All

Dario Franchitti on the stage with the 2009 IndyCar Series championship trophy. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

IndyCar: On The 10th Day, 10th Month ... #10 Car Wins It All

After securing the pole position for the Firestone Indy 300, Dario Franchitti wins his second overall championship in the IndyCar Series (ICS) in the Indy Racing League's final race of the 2009 season at Homestead-Maimi Speedway.

In a race that turned out to be the first caution-free race in IndyCar Series history leading to the second-fastest in IndyCar history resulted into an oxymoron, of sorts ... a win result due to excellent fuel management by the Tatget Chip Ganassi team and it's driver Dario Franchitti who entered the race third in the points behind Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) and Target teammate Scott Dixon.

Eventual 2009 ICS Rookie-Of-The-Year, Raphael Matos (Luzco Dragon Racing), sits on the wall before first practice session at Homestead-Maimi Speedway. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

This excerpted and edited from -

Franchitti surprised to win 2009 title
By Matt Beer -, Sunday, October 11th 2009, 11:23 GMT

Dario Franchitti said he never expected to come straight back in and win the 2009 championship when he agreed to return to the IndyCar Series this year.

The Scot had left the championship for NASCAR after winning the 2007 title, but when Ganassi had to close Franchitti's Sprint Cup operation due to a lack of finance, he accepted an invitation to switch to the team's IndyCar arm instead.

Last night at Homestead Franchitti clinched his second championship by winning a three-way fight with his team-mate Scott Dixon and Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who he beat to victory in the deciding race by stretching his fuel mileage to avoid a fourth stop while his rivals battled flat-out and had to pit again late on.

"I didn't think I'd win five races and a championship in my first year back," said Franchitti. "I knew driving for team Target [Ganassi], I'd have good equipment, just a question of could I get back into it and compete at a level that I had already.

"Scott is a better driver than he was in '07, and Ryan came in [at the front] every single week, as well as other people who made appearances and won races, but it just seemed that Scott and Ryan every week were tough competition.

"From winning in the second race at Long Beach, I knew we could get it done."

He said the second title was more satisfying than the first as there had still been separate Champ Car and IndyCar championships in 2007.

"In '07 there was a lot of satisfaction in getting that one done," said Franchitti. "I think what makes it sweeter [in '09] is we've got everybody together, and you've got a more balanced schedule, as well.
He added that he was now thoroughly settled in the IndyCar Series, but still thinks he gained from his abortive NASCAR move.
"I learned things as a driver. To drive in stock car, I got out of my comfort zone, and I learned a lot of new things, and there are things that I can apply to IndyCar. That's made me a better driver, I think.

"I'm absolutely where I should be. I should be in IndyCars. That is what I grew up to do, race in the IndyCar Series."
Reference Here>>

It is common knowledge that racing drivers are a superstitious lot, and heading into the Firestone Indy 300 one number was particularly convergent for the 2009 ICS contender Dario Franchitti: He would be racing his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara Honda on Oct. 10th in search of Target Chip Ganassi’s 10th win of the season.

And in Miami, he performed to a Perfect 10.

Graham Rahal: Top 2009 season placing Transition Player (former CCWS team and/or driver) in the Indy Racing League

Overall ICS 2009 Championship Standings (** denotes a CCWS Transition Player)

Pos - Driver - Points

1. Dario Franchitti 616
2. Scott Dixon 605
3. Ryan Briscoe 604
4. Helio Castroneves 433
5. Danica Patrick 393
6. Tony Kanaan 386
7. Graham Rahal 385**
8. Marco Andretti 380
9. Justin Wilson 354**
10. Dan Wheldon 354
11. Hideki Mutoh 353
12. Ed Carpenter 321
13. Raphael Matos 312
14. Mario Moraes 304**
15. Ryan Hunter-Reay 98
16. Robert Doornbos 283**
17. Mike Conway 261
18. E.J. Viso 248**
19. Will Power 215**
20. Tomas Scheckter 195
21. Oriol Servia 115**
22. Alex Tagliani 114**
23. Paul Tracy 113**
24. Milka Duno 113
25. Sarah Fisher 89
26. Jaques Lazier 77
27. Richard Antinucci 63
28. Vitor Meira 62
29. Stanton Barrett 62
30. Alex Lloyd 41
31. Darren Manning 38
32. Townsend Bell 32**
33. A.J. Foyt IV 26
34. Scott Sharp 16
35. Nelson Philippe 16**
36. Kosuke Matsuura 13
37. John Andretti 12
38. Franck Montagny 12**
39. Roger Yasukawa 12
40. Davey Hamilton 10

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, October 9, 2009

That's MAZDA Raceway ... Laguna Seca!

From left to right: SCCA staffed track condition flagging stand, logo'd Start/Finishline bridge, front straightaway, turn #1, starters perch/stand, pits, and paddock area at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca featuring the green & white liveried, P2 Dyson Racing, biobutanol fuel, MAZDA MZR-R powered, BP sponsored, Lola B09 86 #16 coupe, driven by Guy Smith and Chris Dyson. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

That's MAZDA Raceway ... Laguna Seca!

This weekend, in the hills straddling the agricultural Salinas Valley and the tawny digs of the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel Valley, and Pebble Beach, a motorsports marathon of contests will be held. The event is called the Monterey Sports Car Championships, presented by Patron and a total of seven races will be run, much to the delight to the sophisticated fans who will gather.

The headline of the contests is the American Le Mans Series which are prototype full-bodied alternative fuel cars that require a driver change during the running of the race. There is even one car that is a .... HYBRID - that's right, a hybrid that will reach speeds of about 185mph or even a little better.

This event is the last race of the championship series for the 2009 season and it will also be the last professional competitive race for the premier driver/owner of de Farran Motorsports, Gil de Farran.

Many people who come to the track here in the countryside just off of the Pacific Ocean and southwest of San Francisco refer to it as "just" Laguna Seca but that would be wrong. Without the MAZDA at the Raceway ... only one race would be held for all of the series of races to be contested are either supported directly by MAZDA, have engines supplied for the cars, or have a chief competitive team in the field. Further, MAZDA is the only Japanese automobile manufacturer to ever win the 24 hours of Le Mans ... the most famous endurance motorsports race in the world!

For the record, Gil de Ferran qualified his Chaparral-White liveried #66 XM Radio, Acura (in honor of the team owner, car designer Jim Hall ... the person responsible for bringing Gil to IndyCar and the United States at the beginning of his career) in P1 on a last lap heroic effort that ended up breaking something in the suspension of the car while Gil was cutting through the infamous Corkscrew turn (formally the Rainey Curve).

Ariel photograph of the layout at the MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca. The Start/Finish line is at the bottom with the highest elevation of the track is located toward the upper left corner just as the track turns a sharp left at the "Corkscrew" surrounded in California Oak trees. Image Credit of Photo hanging on wall: Edmund Jenks (2009)

If you have never been to MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca, the initial thing that impresses the first time attendee (especially if one was a fan and was familiar with the track due to watching races on TV) is the elevation changes throughout the course and that from certain vantage points around the track, one can see the competition for about 60% to 70% of the total course ... this is highly unusual for a dedicated road course that features many turns.

Follow Fernandez chasing de Ferran for one lap late in the timed four hour season ending event from a vantage point near the Red Bull Energy Center at MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca. Video Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Gil de Ferran rode into the sunset with a victory in his final race Saturday to "bookend" his American professional racing career, while Patrón Highcroft Racing had its own special ride as well at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to close the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud won the Monterey Sports Car Championships presented by Patrón after the retiring Brazilian legend's thrilling duel with Adrian Fernandez in the final 30 minutes of the four-hour classic.

The Patrón Highcroft Acura finished second in class and third overall, more than enough to secure the LMP1 driver championship for David Brabham and Scott Sharp, and the team title for Patrón Highcroft. The championships were the first for all.

... notes from The EDJE