IndyCar Monterey Grand Prix

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IndyCar Grand Prix of Monterey
Laguna Seca.svg
Verizon IndyCar Series
VenueWeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
First race1983
Previous namesCribari Wines 300k (1983)
Quinn's Cooler 300k (1984)
Stroh's 300k (1985)
Champion Spark Plug 300 (1986-1990)
Toyota Monterey Grand Prix (1991)
Kodalux Processing 300 (1992)
Makita 300 (1993)
Bank of America 300 (1994-1996)
Texaco-Havoline 300 (1997-1998)
Shell 300 (1999-2000)
Honda Grand Prix of Monterey (2001)
Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey (2002, 2004)
Most wins (driver)Bobby Rahal (4)
Most wins (team)Penske Racing (6)
Most wins (manufacturer)Lola (7)

The IndyCar Monterey Grand Prix is an IndyCar Series race held at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California. The event dates back to 1960, and became an American open wheel race beginning in 1983. The race was part of the CART/Champ Car series from 1983 through 2004. After a fifteen-year hiatus, the event will return in 2019 as part of the IndyCar Series, replacing Sonoma.[1]

Since its inception as an Indy car race in 1983, for nearly it entire existence, it has been held at or very near the end of the season. From 1989 to 1996, it served as the CART season finale. When the race returns as part of the IndyCar Series in 2019, it will again be scheduled as the season finale. Due to its placement near the end of the season, the race has often been pivotal to the points championship. Several drivers have clinched the Indy car title at Laguna Seca. In addition, Laguna Seca was the site of the final Indy car race for legends Mario Andretti (1994) and Bobby Rahal (1998), both whom retired at the end of the respective seasons.

Laguna Seca is perhaps best-remembered as the site of one of the most legendary moments in the history of CART. On the final lap of the 1996 Monterey Grand Prix, Alex Zanardi executed a daring, diving pass inside of Bryan Herta through the difficult "Corkscrew" turns. Zanardi bounced wildly through the dirt and over the curbing, sliding across the track, narrowly missing a collision, and astonishingly made the pass stick for the win. The spectacular overtaking maneuver by Zanardi later became known in racing circles simply as "The Pass".

The driver with the most wins is Bobby Rahal, who won the CART series race four years in a row from 1984-1987, and three additional times as an owner (1998, 1999, 2001). Rahal also won the race in 1979 when it was a Can-Am series event.

History[edit]

The event dates back to 1960, and has traditionally been held in the fall (September or October). The event was first held as a USAC Road Racing Championship race, following the success of the SCCA's Pebble Beach Road Races. After USAC's road racing series disbanded in 1962, the race became a non-championship sports car race for three years. The race then joined the Can-Am schedule for 1966-1973. After the demise of Can-Am in 1974, the event shifted to Formula 5000 for two years, then to IMSA for two more years. It should be noted that this race encompasses a separate history from another event at Laguna Seca, the sports car race traditionally held in the spring.

The revived Cam-Am returned from 1978-1982, after which time the event became a CART Indy car race. The CART race was held every year from 1983 to 2004. The race continued to be held in the fall with the exception of 2002-2003 when it was briefly moved to June. The final CART/Champ Car race was held in 2004. Its spot on the calendar was shifted to San Jose.

In 1989 and 1991, the Marlboro Challenge all-star exhibition race was part of the CART race weekend. In 1991, Michael Andretti swept the weekend, winning both the Challenge on Saturday and Grand Prix on Sunday.

After a hiatus from 2005-2007, the race was set to return as part of the Champ Car World Series in 2008. However, after the 2008 open wheel unification, the race went back on hiatus. With the top-level Indy cars absent, and now competing instead at Sonoma, the Atlantic Championship briefly headlined at the track from 2008-2009. In 2015-2016, the track hosted the Mazda Road to Indy championship weekend. All three lower tiers of INDYCAR - Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, and U.S. F2000 participated in a standalone event. However, the top-level IndyCar Series still stayed away, and continued to race at Sonoma.

In 2018, a renewed effort to return Indy car racing to Laguna Seca was spearheaded by Monterey County and track officials. In their favor, the IndyCar races at Sonoma were said to be money-losers. Sonoma, which is also located in the Northern California region, is only about 150 miles north of Monterey by car. Sonoma held a "geographical exclusion" clause which effectively precluded IndyCar races from being held at both venues. In July 2018, it was announced that Sonoma would be removed from the IndyCar schedule after the 2018 season, and Laguna Seca would added for 2019. The track signed an initial three-year deal and would take over the spot as the IndyCar season finale.[2]

In 1999, driver Gonzalo Rodríguez was fatally injured in a practice crash.[3] Five different drivers have won the Indy car race consecutively, including Bobby Rahal who won four years in a row from 1984-1987. Rahal's mark ties a CART series record for most consecutive wins at an individual circuit.

Race results[edit]

Sports car & Formula 5000 races[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Car Distance Sponsored Name
USAC Road Racing Championship
1960 October 23 United Kingdom Stirling Moss British Racing Partnership, Ltd. Lotus 19-Climax 201.4 mi (324.1 km) The San Francisco Examiner presents the Pacific Grand Prix
1961 October 22 United Kingdom Stirling Moss UDT-Laystall Racing Team Lotus 19-Climax 201.4 mi (324.1 km) San Francisco Examiner Pacific Grand Prix
1962 October 21 United States Roger Penske Updraught Enterprises, Inc. Cooper T53-Climax[4] 200.8 mi (323.2 km) Pacific Grand Prix 200
Non-Championship
1963 October 20 United States Dave MacDonald Shelby American Shelby Cooper-Ford 200 mi (320 km) Monterey Pacific Grand Prix
1964 October 18 United States Roger Penske Chaparral Cars Chaparral 2A-Chevrolet 200 mi (320 km) Monterey Grand Prix Laguna Seca 200 miles
1965 October 17 United States Walt Hansgen John Mecom Lola T70-Ford 200 mi (320 km) Monterey Grand Prix Laguna Seca 200 miles
Can-Am
1966 October 16 United States Phil Hill Chaparral Cars Chaparral 2E-Chevrolet 200 mi (320 km) Monterey Grand Prix
1967 October 15 New Zealand Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren M6A-Chevrolet 200 mi (320 km) Monterey Grand Prix
1968 October 13 Canada John Cannon John Cannon McLaren M1B-Chevrolet 150 mi (240 km) Monterey Grand Prix
1969 October 12 New Zealand Bruce McLaren Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren M8B-Chevrolet 150 mi (240 km) Monterey Castrol Grand Prix
1970 October 18 New Zealand Denny Hulme Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren M8D-Chevrolet 150 mi (240 km) Monterey Castrol Grand Prix
1971 October 17 United States Peter Revson McLaren Cars Ltd. McLaren M8F-Chevrolet 170 mi (270 km) Monterey Castrol Grand Prix
1972 October 15 United States George Follmer Roger Penske Porsche 917/10 170 mi (270 km) Monterey Castrol GTX Grand Prix
1973 October 14 United States Mark Donohue Roger Penske Enterprises Porsche 917/30 125 mi (201 km) Monterey Castrol Grand Prix
Formula 5000
1974 October 13 United Kingdom Brian Redman Lola T332-Chevrolet 95 mi (153 km) Monterey Grand Prix
1975 October 12 United States Mario Andretti Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing Lola T332-Chevrolet 95 mi (153 km) Monterey Grand Prix
IMSA GT Championship
1976 October 3 United States Jim Busby Busby Racing Porsche Carrera 100 mi (160 km) Shasta Monterey Grand Prix
1977 October 9 United Kingdom David Hobbs McLaren North America BMW 320i Turbo 100 mi (160 km) Shasta Monterey Grand Prix
Can-Am
1978 October 8 United States Al Holbert Hogan Racing Lola T333CS-Chevrolet 91 mi (146 km) Shasta Monterey Grand Prix
1979 October 14 United States Bobby Rahal U.S. Racing Prophet-Chevrolet 91 mi (146 km) Shasta Monterey Grand Prix
1980 October 19 United States Al Unser Sr. Brad Frisselle Racing Frissbee-Chevrolet 95 mi (153 km) Shasta Monterey Grand Prix
1981 October 12 Italy Teo Fabi Paul Newman Racing March 817-Chevrolet 95 mi (153 km) Datsun/Budweiser Can Am Challenge
1982 October 10 United States Al Unser, Jr. Galles Racing Frissbee-Galles GR3-Chevrolet 114 mi (183 km) Datsun and Sprite present the Monterey Grand Prix

IndyCar Series races[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Car Distance Sponsored Name Report
CART/Champ Car Series
1983 October 23 Italy Teo Fabi Forsythe Racing March/Cosworth 300 km (190 mi) Cribari Wines 300k report
1984 October 21 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports March/Cosworth 300 km (190 mi) Quinn's Cooler 300k report
1985 October 6 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports March/Cosworth 300 km (190 mi) Stroh's 300k report
1986 October 12 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports March/Cosworth 300 km (190 mi) Champion Spark Plug 300 report
1987 October 11 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports Lola/Cosworth 300 km (190 mi) Champion Spark Plug 300 report
1988 October 16 United States Danny Sullivan Team Penske Penske/Chevrolet 300 km (190 mi) Champion Spark Plug 300 report
1989 October 15 United States Rick Mears Team Penske Penske/Chevrolet 300 km (190 mi) Champion Spark Plug 300 report
1990 October 21 United States Danny Sullivan Marlboro Team Penske Penske/Chevrolet 300 km (190 mi) Champion Spark Plug 300 report
1991 October 20 United States Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Chevrolet-Ilmor 300 km (190 mi) Toyota Monterey Grand Prix report
1992 October 18 United States Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Ford-Cosworth 300 km (190 mi) Kodalux Processing 300 report
1993 October 3 Canada Paul Tracy Marlboro Team Penske Penske/Chevrolet-Ilmor 300 km (190 mi) Makita 300 report
1994 October 9 Canada Paul Tracy Marlboro Team Penske Penske/Ilmor 300 km (190 mi) Bank of America 300 report
1995 October 10 Brazil Gil de Ferran Jim Hall Racing Reynard/Ilmor-Mercedes-Benz 300 km (190 mi) Bank of America 300 report
1996 September 9 Italy Alex Zanardi Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda 300 km (190 mi) Bank of America 300 report
1997 September 7 United States Jimmy Vasser Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda 300 km (190 mi) Texaco-Havoline 300 report
1998 September 13 United States Bryan Herta Team Rahal Reynard/Ford 300 km (190 mi) Texaco-Havoline 300 report
1999 September 12 United States Bryan Herta Team Rahal Reynard/Ford 300 km (190 mi) Shell 300 report
2000 September 10 Brazil Hélio Castroneves Marlboro Team Penske Reynard/Honda 300 km (190 mi) Shell 300 report
2001 October 14 Italy Max Papis Team Rahal Lola/Ford 300 km (190 mi) Honda Grand Prix of Monterey report
2002 June 9 Brazil Cristiano da Matta Newman-Haas Racing Lola/Toyota 195 mi (314 km) Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey report
2003 June 15 Canada Patrick Carpentier Forsythe Racing Lola/Ford-Cosworth 195 mi (314 km) Grand Prix of Monterey report
2004 September 12 Canada Patrick Carpentier Forsythe Racing Lola/Ford-Cosworth 177 mi (285 km) Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey report
IndyCar Series
2019 September 22 IndyCar Monterey Grand Prix
  • The 2003 race was scheduled for 87 laps (194.7 miles) or a 2-hour, 10 minute time limit.
  • The 2004 race was scheduled for 80 laps (179.04 miles) or a 1-hour, 45 minute time limit.

Support races[edit]

Race summaries[edit]

CART PPG Indy Car World Series[edit]

Track layout used through 1987.
  • 1983: In front of a crowd of 50,000 spectators, the CART series visited Laguna Seca for the first time in 1983. It was the second-to-last race of the season. The focus of attention going into the race was the championship battle between Al Unser and rookie Teo Fabi. Unser (137) led Fabi (102) by 35 points, and could wrap up the title with a 5th-place finish or better. Fabi qualified for the pole position, and proceeded to dominate the weekend. Fabi led 95 of the 98 laps, only giving up the lead for a few hundred feet after a restart on lap 29, and during a sequence of pit stops on lap 63-65. Fabi beat second place Mario Andretti by 22-seconds at the finish line. Meanwhile, points leader Al Unser broke a halfshaft with 11 laps to go and dropped to 11th place at the finish. Fabi narrowed the points lead, sending the championship battle to the finale at Phoenix. Fabi also clinched the 1983 CART rookie of the year award.[5][6] Two controversies flared up during qualifying on Saturday. Johnny Rutherford's qualifying speed was thrown out after officials found a taped-over pop-off valve. The team declined a provisional, and Rutherford sat out the race. With Fabi (120.169 mph) on the pole, and Chip Ganassi (118.746 mph) second, officials later discovered that they had overlooked Derek Daly's best lap of the day. Daly had turned a lap of 119.048 mph, and officials corrected the error, elevating him to second on the grid, and bumping Ganassi back to row two.[7]
Bobby Rahal won the CART Monterey Grand Prix four years in a row (1984-1987).
Danny Sullivan won the CART Monterey Grand Prix twice (1988 & 1990).
  • 1984: In its second running, Laguna Seca was again the second-to-last race of the CART schedule. Points leader Mario Andretti started on the pole position, but Bobby Rahal took the lead on lap 20. Rahal dominated the rest of the race, leading by as many as 18 seconds. He gave up the lead for only five laps during his second pit stop. Andretti settled into a comfortable second position after contender Danny Sullivan experienced brake trouble. Andretti elected to drive an easy race, and protect his points lead. With his second-place finish, Mario all but sewed up the 1984 title. Despite winning the race and leading the most laps, Rahal was mathematically eliminated from championship contention. Tom Sneva, the only other driver still alive for the title, was two laps down in 10th place. Rookie Michael Andretti enjoyed his fifth top-3 finish of the year, and it was the first time he joined his father Mario on the podium at Indy car race.[8][9]
  • 1985: Bobby Rahal started on the pole and led the first 35 laps. After giving up the lead briefly during a sequence of pit stops, Rahal was back in the lead on lap 37. He stretched his margin out to nearly 29 seconds over second place Al Unser Jr. On lap 59, Tom Sneva crashed bringing out a caution. Most of the leaders pitted, including Rahal and Unser Jr. Rookie Roberto Moreno stayed out and took over the lead, with Geoff Brabham now in second. The race went back to green on lap 66 (of 98) with Moreno leading. Three laps later, however, Moreno slowed with transmission problems, handing the lead to Al Unser Jr., who was locked in a tight battle with his father Al Unser Sr. for the points championship. Brabham was now running second, with Rahal close behind in third. Unser Jr. and Brabham battled for the lead over the next several laps. With 12 laps to go, Brabham attempted to pass Unser Jr. for the lead in the final turn, but locked up his brakes. Unser Jr. had to take evasive action. Rahal pounced and passed both cars in one move to sweep into the lead. Moments later, Brabham blew his engine, and Unser Jr. faded with worn out tires. Rahal pulled away to a 12-second lead, and won at Laguna Seca for the second year in a row. Al Unser Sr. came home second, while Al Jr. held on for third.[10]
  • 1986: Bobby Rahal won at Laguna Seca for the third consecutive year, a pivotal victory on his way to the 1986 CART title. Mario Andretti started from the pole position and led the first eight laps. Rahal took the lead on lap 9 with a decisive pass entering the corkscrew. Rahal pulled out to a mostly comfortable lead, giving up the lead only during pit stops. Rahal led 86 of the 98 laps, but had to race hard over the final twenty laps to ensure victory. During pit stops on lap 69, Danny Sullivan took over second place from Michael Andretti. Then Sullivan went on a charge to try and catch Rahal. Sullivan closed the gap to 1.41 seconds on the final lap, but he was no match for Rahal. It was Rahal's sixth victory of the season, and gave Rahal a 9-point advantage in the championship standings with two races remaining.[11][12]
  • 1987: Bobby Rahal won at Laguna Seca for the fourth consecutive year, and also clinched the 1987 CART championship. It was Rahal's second CART title in a row, and was mathematically clinched with still one race renaming. Mario Andretti dominated the race's early going, lapping all but the second and third place cars. Meanwhile, Michael Andretti was forced to pit multiple times with alternator trouble. Michael was second in points going into the race, and when he finally dropped out on lap 36, it effectively handed the title to Rahal. Mario Andretti blew his engine while leading on lap 67. Rahal moved into the lead, with Danny Sullivan in second. Rahal cruised over the final 31 laps, and beat Sullivan by a margin of 23.6 seconds at the finish. Also making news at Laguna Seca was the debut of the Porsche Indy car team led by Al Holbert. Al Unser Sr. was behind the wheel, but the car dropped out after only 6 laps with a broken water pump.[13][14]
  • 1988: Danny Sullivan started from the pole position, led 70 of 84 laps, and won at Laguna Seca. He also clinched the 1988 CART championship, with one race remaining in the season. It was the first race to take place on the new 2.124-mile redesigned layout. A record crowd of 70,000 spectators watched Sullivan take the lead for the final time on lap 61 after Mario and Michael Andretti pitted on laps 60 and 61, respectively.[15]
  • 1989: For the first time, Laguna Seca served as the CART season finale. Going into the race, Emerson Fittipaldi had already clinched the 1989 CART title, but second and third place were still up for grabs. Rick Mears started from the pole and led 47 of 84 laps en route to victory. It was the first road course victory for Mears since Riverside in 1982, and the first since he suffered serious leg injuries in 1984. It was also the last road course win of his career. It what was the final Indy car race of the 1980s, Mears also became the winningest driver of the decade with twenty victories. Mears held off a hard-charging Mario Andretti, and cemeted second place in the final points standings. Mears and Andretti both pitted during a caution on lap 48 and ran 1st-2nd after leader Al Unser Jr. was forced to pit under green on lap 63.[16]
  • 1990: Danny Sullivan started on the pole position, and led wire-to-wire, winning in his final race for Penske Racing. The race was slowed by only one full course caution which came out when Willy T. Ribbs and Dean Hall banged wheels at the start. Sullivan beat second place Al Unser Jr. by 29.799 seconds. Unser had already wrapped up the 1990 CART championship, and ran second most of the day. With Sullivan well ahead, and Unser solidly in second, the focus of attention in the closing laps was the fierce battle for third between Rick Mears and Michael Andretti. With two laps to go, Mears passed Andretti in spectacular fashion along the Rahal straight. Exiting turn 6, Mears diced around the lapped car of Mike Groff and ahead of Andretti, and carried the lead to the outside going into the corkscrew. However, coming off the final turn of the final lap, Mears ran out of fuel in sight of the checkered flag. Michael Andretti caught up and slipped by Mears about 100 yards from the finish line to steal third place.[17][18]
Michael Andretti won the 1991 race.
  • 1991: Michael Andretti started from the pole position and led 83 of the 84 laps in a dominating victory. With the win, Andretti clinched the 1991 CART championship. It was his eighth win of the season, and first ever at Laguna Seca. Going into the race, the championship battle was down to Andretti and Bobby Rahal. Andretti needed to finish 6th or better to win the championship, and when Rahal dropped out on lap 24 with overheating problems, Andretti mathematically clinched the title. With Michael out in front, the battle for second and third was the most competitive. While running second on lap 38, Emerson Fittipaldi experienced troubles when his water bottle broke loose and fell between his feet. Al Unser Jr. got by for second, and Fittipaldi tangled with Rick Mears bending his suspension. Fittipaldi recovered, battling Mario Andretti over the final 25 laps for third. Mario held off Fittipaldi to round out the podium.[19][20]
  • 1992: Bobby Rahal needed to finished 4th or better at Laguna Seca to clinch the 1992 CART championship. His closest competitor in the title hunt was Michael Andretti, who won the pole position and led wire-to-wire in a dominating victory. It was Michael's second win in a row at Laguna Seca, and he finished 4.72 seconds ahead of his father Mario. With five laps to go, Paul Tracy was chasing down Michael Andretti for the lead, but tangled with the lapped car of Jimmy Vasser, and broke his front wing. Tracy subsequently went off course, and dropped out. Bobby Rahal elevated to third position, scoring enough points to secure his third CART championship. Michael Andretti won the race, but finished second in points, in his final Indy car race before heading to Formula One in 1993.[21][22]
Mario Andretti retired from racing after the 1994 Monterey Grand Prix
  • 1993: Penske teammates Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy started on the front row, with Tracy jumping into the lead at the start. Tracy led all but three laps, en route to a dominating victory. Tracy accidentally unbuckled his seatbelts with about twenty laps to go, and struggled to keep himself comfortable in the car, all while battling through heavy traffic. Fittipaldi closed the gap, and with ten laps to go, was right on the back bumper of Tracy. Fittipaldi, however, had a hard time getting by the lapped car of Hiro Matsushita. With five laps to go, Fittipaldi lost control and spun off course in turn five, hitting the tire barrier. He recovered and was able to re-join the race, and did not lose any positions. Tracy went on to win, with Fittipaldi second, and Arie Luyendyk third. Nigel Mansell, who had already clinched the 1993 CART championship two weeks earlier at Nazareth, tangled with Mark Smith, injuring his wrist, and dropped out.[23]
  • 1994: The attention for the day focused on Mario Andretti, who was driving in his final Indy car race before retirement. Nigel Mansell, the 1993 CART champion, was also competing in his final Indy car race, as he was preparing to return to Formula One. The morning was marked with festivities and honors for Mario Andretti. Unfortunately, he would finish 19th after suffering contact on the first lap, and a blown engine with four laps to go. Paul Tracy won the race for the second year in a row, starting on the pole and leading wire-to-wire. Al Unser Jr., who had already clinched the 1994 CART championship, stayed within striking distance of Tracy until his transmission broke on lap 75. Raul Boesel finished second, tying his career best, while Mansell finished a lap down in 8th.[24]
  • 1995: Gil de Ferran won his first career Indy car race, taking the lead from polesitter Jacques Villeneuve on lap 29. Villeneuve was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop for tires, giving up the lead, and dropped to 11th place at the finish.[25][26] Going into the race, the 1995 CART championship title was mathematically down to two drivers - Jacques Villeneuve and Al Unser Jr. However, the championship points situation was complicated due to a pending appeals decision stemming from a penalty at the race earlier in the year at Portland. Al Unser Jr. had been stripped of victory (and docked the 21 championship points) at Portland in June. The Penske team filed an appeal, and the decision was not expected until after the season finale at Laguna Seca. Villeneuve unofficially led Unser in the points standings 169-132 (37 points ahead). But if Unser were to win his appeal, and be reinstated the 21 points, Villeneuve's lead would shrink to 17 points, putting Unser within striking distance.[27][28] Villeneuve had to finish 8th or better to clinch the title outright, but managed only an 11th-place finish. Unser made a charge through the standings late in the race, but managed only a 6th-place finish, not enough to take the points lead. Jacques Villeneuve won the CART championship, despite Unser being reinstated his Portland win two weeks later on September 22.[29] It was Villeneuve's final Indy car win, and final Indy car race before leaving for Williams in Formula One.
Alex Zanardi won at Laguna Seca in 1996 after the legendary move in the Corkscrew known as "The Pass".
  • 1996: One of the most legendary moments in the history of the Grand Prix of Monterey, and the CART series itself, occurred in 1996. Bryan Herta led most of the race during the second half, and in the closing laps, was leading Alex Zanardi. Zanardi was in close pursuit, but Herta had been successful thus far holding him off, and appeared to be en route to his first-career Indy car victory. With Zanardi's Ganassi teammate Jimmy Vasser essentially wrapping up the series title already, the attention in the closing laps focused in on the battle for the race lead. On the final lap, the cars approached the famous "Corkscrew" turns, with Herta leading. It was a spot on the track where competitive passes were seldom, due to being a tight, blind, downhill segment. Zanardi made a daring, diving pass to the inside as Herta was under braking, and slid into the lead. Zanardi, however, slid forward off the track, and his two right wheels went into the dirt. His left wheels also nearly left the apron, as he attempted to negotiate the car through the turns. As the hill dipped, and the corkscrew turns reversed, the inside lane became the outside line. His car bounced wildly over the curbing, throwing up dirt, and narrowly missed a barrier. He swung back across the track in front of Herta, with Herta narrowly missing a collision. Zanardi was able to gather control, and astonishingly made the pass stick. Zanardi held Herta off over the final two turns, and scored an improbable victory.[30][31][32] A surprised and dejected Herta was in total shock afterwards, naturally never expecting a pass of that nature in that location. Zanardi himself admitted it was an extremely high risk pass with little chance of success. In post-race evaluation, CART officials allowed the pass, but banned such moves in future races. The spectacular overtaking maneuver by Zanardi later became known in racing circles simply as "The Pass."[33]
  • 1997: Chip Ganassi Racing was the story of the day at Laguna Seca. Jimmy Vasser won the race, and Alex Zanardi who finished third, clinched the 1997 CART championship. Vasser led the final 58 laps, and beat second place Mark Blundell by 0.534 seconds.[34] Bryan Herta, who nearly won the race the year before, started on the pole position,[33] and led the first 21 laps. However, on lap 22, Alex Zanardi went side-by-side attempting to pass for the lead on the outside of turn one. Zanardi's wheels went off into the dirt, and Herta's car also touched the curbing. That allowed Scott Pruett to slip by both of them to grab the lead going into turn 3. Moments later, Jimmy Vasser tried to pass Herta in turn 5, and Herta slid off course losing several positions. Herta would finish 6th.

CART FedEx Championship Series[edit]

Bobby Rahal's "Last Ride" occurred at Laguna Seca in 1998.
Patrick Carpentier won back-to-back races in 2003 and 2004.
  • 1998: Two years after the shocking disappointment of losing to Alex Zanardi in "The Pass", Bryan Herta triumphed at Laguna Seca for his long-awaited first career Indy/Champ Car victory. The win came on the same day his car owner Bobby Rahal, in the midst of his "Last Ride" tour before retirement, drove in his final race at Laguna Seca. Herta started on the pole and led 81 of the 83 laps, but Alex Zanardi was close behind. A bevy of cautions late in the race bunched up the field, and restart with two laps to go would decide the winner. Herta got a good jump on the restart, but Zanardi was all over his back bumper. On lap 82, Zanradi took a look outside to make a pass entering the Corkscrew, but backed out. That gave Herta just enough of a margin to hold him off on the final lap. Zanardi made one last-ditch effort on the final turn, but Herta held him off. Herta took the checkered flag by a mere 0.343 seconds over Zanardi.[35]
  • 1999: Tragedy struck at Laguna Seca when rookie driver Gonzalo Rodríguez was fatally injured in a violent practice crash.[3] During a practice session on Saturday September 11, Rodríguez lost control of his car entering the Corkscrew. The car went straight off the pavement and slid head-on into a concrete and tire retaining wall. The car's nose had pitched down, and the car flipped forward on impact, launching high over the wall and catch fence. The car landed hard and came to rest upside-down in an hillside area behind the retaining wall. Rodríguez was killed instantly of massive head and neck injuries. The crash cast a pall over the weekend, and Team Penske withdrew for the weekend. On race day, Bryan Herta started from the pole position and dominated the race leading all 83 laps. It was Herta's second win in a row at Laguna Seca, in his final start at Team Rahal. Roberto Moreno finished second, his best-career finish in the CART series, gaining three spots on his final pit stop, and two more positions on the final restart.[36]
  • 2000: Penske Racing finished 1st-2nd with Hélio Castroneves winning the race and Gil de Ferran taking over the points lead (which he would not relinquish on his way to the 2000 CART championship). Castroneves led 81 of the 83 laps, giving up the lead only once to Juan Pablo Montoya during a pit stop. Montoya fell out of contention after a pit stop on lap 48 in which his air jack collapsed. Gil de Ferran ran close behind Castroneves most of the day, and finished 0.954 seconds behind at the finish. Castroneves proceeded to climb from his car and climb the catch fence in celebration. Castroneves and the entire Penske team dedicated the victory to the memory of their driver Gonzalo Rodríguez, killed one year earlier.[37]
  • 2001: A crash-filled race, shorted from 83 laps to 76 laps due to a two-hour time limit, saw Max Papis win from the 25th starting position, the furthest back any driver has won at Laguna Seca. Papis made five pit stops (most contenders made two), and steadily worked his way up the standings, helped by the numerous full-course cautions and high attrition. At the start, polesitter Gil de Ferran grabbed the lead. Deep in the field, Kenny Brack banged wheels with Maurício Gugelmin, then was hit from behind by Michael Andretti. Moments later, Brack again collided with Gugelmin, suffering enough damage that he was forced to eventually drop out. On the second lap Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier collided. A pit fire on lap 7 in the pits of Chip Ganassi Racing burned two mechanics, but the team was able to continue. Several other incidents occurred during the day, including a spectacular crash on lap 65 between Oriol Servia and Maurício Gugelmin. Servia came upon the back of Gugelmin's car going into the Andretti Hairpin, and rode over his rear wheel. The car sailed over, then the nose dug into the ground, causing the car to flip about 20 feet into the air. Servia was not seriously injured. Pitting out of sequence from the other leader, Papis took the lead on lap 61, and held on to win as the race was ended on lap 76. It was Team Rahal's third win at Laguna Seca, and Bobby Rahal's seventh win combined as driver or owner.[38][39]
  • 2002: After many years of being held in the fall, for 2002 the race was moved to June. Newman/Haas Racing finished 1st-2nd, with Cristiano da Matta finishing 19.087 seconds ahead of teammate Christian Fittipaldi. Cristiano da Matta led 82 of the 87 laps, giving up the lead only during pit stops. A seven-car pileup in the Andretti Hairpin on the first lap was triggered after Michel Jourdain Jr. was sent spinning. Dario Franchitti and Adrián Fernández dropped out. Later on lap 16, Paul Tracy exited the pits after a seemingly routine pit stop. The left rear wheel was not properly fastened, however, and came off entering turn four on his out-lap. Tracy's car was sent spinning wildly into a tire barrier and out of the race.[40]
  • 2003: Patrick Carpentier started from the pole position and led all 87 laps to victory. At the start, as the field was coming around the final corner to take the green flag, Paul Tracy (on the inside of row two) bumped into the back of polesitter Carpentier, nearly checking-up the field. Neither car was seriously damaged, but the start was waved off until the next time around. Carpentier, Tracy, and Bruno Junqueira were running 1-2-3 when they all pitted together on lap 48. Tracy clipped an errant tire exiting his pit stall, then on the out-lap, challenged Carpentier for the lead going into the Andretti Hairpin. Tracy locked up the brakes, and could not make the pass. He suffered flat-spotted tires, and was forced to nurse an ill-handling car during the stint. With Carpentier pulling out to a comfortable lead, Tracy veered off course at the exit of turn six on lap 56, allowing Junqueira to take over second position. Junqueira charged but could not catch Carpentier for the win.[41]

Champ Car World Series[edit]

  • 2004: The final Champ Car race at Laguna Seca was held in 2004. After two years of being held in June, the race moved back to its familiar date in the fall. For the second year in a row Patrick Carpentier dominated much of the race, leading 40 of the 79 laps. The race was shortened to 79 laps from the scheduled 80 due to a 1:45 time limit. Polesitter Sébastien Bourdais led the first lap, but was in the pits on lap 2 due to a punctured tire from contact out on the track. It would happen again for Bourdais later on. He wound up 8th, but not before he went off-course on the final lap, losing 7th in the process.[42] With the series leaving Laguna Seca after 2004, it remained one of the few Champ Car tracks in which Bourdais failed to score a victory.

IndyCar Series[edit]

  • 2019: After a fifteen-year absence, Laguna Seca will return to the IndyCar Series schedule in 2019.

Broadcasting[edit]

Year Network Lap-by-lap Color commentator(s) Pit reporters
1983 ESPN Bob Jenkins Gordon Johncock Gary Lee and Ted Otto
1984 ESPN Bob Jenkins Larry Nuber Gary Lee
1985 ESPN Bob Jenkins Derek Daly Jack Arute
1986 ESPN Bob Jenkins Derek Daly Gary Lee
1987 ESPN Bob Jenkins David Hobbs Gary Lee and Larry Nuber
1988 ESPN Bob Jenkins Johnny Rutherford Gary Lee and John Bisignano
1989 ESPN Paul Page Johnny Rutherford Gary Gerould and Jack Arute
1990 ESPN Paul Page Derek Daly Gary Gerould and Lyn St. James
1991 ESPN Paul Page Derek Daly Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1992 ESPN Paul Page Derek Daly Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1993 ESPN2 Paul Page Derek Daly Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1994 ESPN Paul Page Derek Daly Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1995 ESPN2 Paul Page Derek Daly Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1996 ESPN Paul Page Danny Sullivan Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1997 ESPN Bob Varsha Danny Sullivan Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
1998 ESPN Bob Varsha Danny Sullivan Gary Gerould, Jon Beekhuis and Marlo Klain
1999 ESPN Paul Page Parker Johnstone Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
2000 ESPN Paul Page Parker Johnstone Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
2001 ESPN Paul Page Parker Johnstone Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis
2002 SPEED Bob Varsha Tommy Kendall Derek Daly, Calvin Fish and Scott Pruett
2003 CBS Bob Varsha Tommy Kendall Derek Daly and Calvin Fish
2004 SpikeTV Rick Benjamin Tommy Kendall Derek Daly and Jon Beekhuis
2019 NBC Leigh Diffey Townsend Bell
Paul Tracy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/IndyCar-swapping-Sonoma-Raceway-for-Laguna-Seca-13073496.php
  2. ^ Johnson, Jim (July 16, 2018). "Laguna Seca, IndyCar seek success after Sonoma spun tires". Monterey Herald. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Miller, Robin (September 12, 1999). "CART halts practice after driver is killed". The Indianapolis Star. p. 41. Retrieved August 27, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ http://www.oldracingcars.com/cooper/t53/
  5. ^ Overpeck, Dave (October 24, 1983). "Record crowd watches Fabi win; Mario second (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 25. Retrieved August 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Overpeck, Dave (October 24, 1983). "Record crowd watches Fabi win; Mario second (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 27. Retrieved August 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ Overpeck, Dave (October 23, 1983). "Rutherford gets boot after Fabi gets pole". The Indianapolis Star. p. 69. Retrieved August 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ Overpeck, Dave (October 22, 1984). "Rahal wins second in row (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 28. Retrieved August 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ Overpeck, Dave (October 22, 1984). "Rahal wins second in row (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 36. Retrieved August 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ "Rahal triumphs again; CART race a logjam". The Indianapolis Star. October 7, 1985. p. 19. Retrieved August 9, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
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  13. ^ Schaffer, Rick (October 12, 1987). "Rahal claims Laguna race, CART crown (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 21. Retrieved August 13, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
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  19. ^ Miller, Robin (October 21, 1991). "Michael clinches his first Indy-car crown with style (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 29. Retrieved August 14, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
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  23. ^ Benner, David (October 4, 1993). "Consistent Tracy wins IndyCar finale". The Indianapolis Star. p. 13. Retrieved August 15, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
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  25. ^ Harris, Mike (September 11, 1995). "Villeneuve gets crown despite 11th-place finish (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 25. Retrieved August 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read
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  42. ^ Harris, Mike (September 13, 2004). "Carpentier repeats feat in dominating fashion". The Indianapolis Star. p. 34. Retrieved September 5, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°35′3.4″N 121°45′11.8″W / 36.584278°N 121.753278°W / 36.584278; -121.753278