Champ Car moves San Jose race to Laguna Seca
The Champ Car World Series announced today that its 2008 race in northern California will move from the streets of San Jose to the road course at historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey.
“We’re pleased that Champ Car will be able to maintain a strong event in northern California,” said Steve Johnson, Champ Car President & CEO. “While it’s always tough to leave one city for another, in this case, it makes sense strategically for us and works for San Jose given the on-going developments of their downtown. We enjoyed three great years in San Jose, and certainly anticipate that the fans there will head south to enjoy Champ Car racing at the beautiful Monterey Peninsula’s Mazda Raceway circuit.”
Considered one of the finest permanent road courses in North America, the 2.238-mile Monterey Peninsula’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will host its 23rd Champ Car World Series event next year at a date to be announced later. The first Champ Car event was held at Laguna in 1983, and though its long run of races ended the past three years, Champ Car returned there this year to conduct its pre-season testing. The testing also served as the official kick-off for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Golden Anniversary season this year.
“Needless to say, we are thrilled to announce during our 50th Anniversary season that Monterey Peninsula’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will once again host a Champ Car World Series event,” said Gill Campbell, CEO/General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Our fans loved the 2007 pre-season testing, and they will certainly enjoy Champ Car’s return with a race next year. Our mutual affiliation with Mazda made this relationship a natural one for us, and we all share in the excitement. While we look forward to announcing our entire 2008 schedule soon, we wanted to share this exciting news with our fans as soon as possible.”
Organizers of the Grand Prix of San Jose recently informed the Champ Car World Series that on-going residential developments in and around the 1.5 mile downtown track would hamper next year’s race. For 2008, new housing developments on Balbach Street would affect the back straightaway, while upcoming construction in the Boston Properties lot would mean the loss of the race’s main “Gold Grandstands” on Almaden Boulevard.
“The reality of racing on a temporary street circuit is that change happens continuously and this is especially true in a dynamic and growing city center like downtown San Jose,” said Grand Prix President Dale Jantzen.
The Grand Prix provided the city of San Jose with world-wide exposure as part of the Champ Car World Series. Broadcast internationally in each of its three years, the city of San Jose estimated that the economic impact to America’s 10th largest city was approximately $70 million over the three-year period.
Champ Car’s announcement that they would race in Laguna Seca in 2008 is the first of what is expected to be several exciting announcements in the months ahead regarding 2008 race venues. The full 2008 Champ Car World Series calendar will be announced later this fall.
Champ Car at Laguna Seca Background Information
• On the Champ Car World Series schedule beginning in 1983, Monterey Peninsula’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will host its 23rd Champ Car World Series event in 2008. (There was no Champ Car race there from 2005-2007.) It currently sits behind only Cleveland (26), Elkhart Lake/Road America (25), Long Beach (24), and Portland (24) as the circuit with the most races on the Champ Car schedule.
• Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has hosted the Champ Car season finale nine times, with the champion being crowned on the Monterrey Peninsula five times.
• The circuit hosted Champ Car All-Star events in 1989 and 1991.
• The Champ Car World Series held its 2007 pre-season testing in Monterey, kicking off Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Anniversary season.
• Teams and drivers worked to familiarize themselves with the newly introduced DP01 at Laguna this year
• They also sought to set an unofficial track record as part of the circuit’s 50th Anniversary. With a bounty placed on beating the time of 1 minute 6.309 seconds set in a Formula 1 car in 2006, three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais easily bettered the mark, running the 2.238-miles in 1 minute 5.880 seconds.
Big Name Winners
• Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is considered a “drivers’ course,” as nine different drivers who have won there can boast Champ Car titles on their resumes. The list includes Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Rick Mears, Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser and current Champ Car competitor Paul Tracy.
• Tracy won back-to-back events in 1993-94, which seems to be the norm at Mazda Raceway. Rahal won four consecutive times at Laguna (1984-87), Andretti in 1991-92, Bryan Herta in 1998-99 and Patrick Carpentier in Champ Car’s last two visits in 2003-04.
Corkscrew & Pass
• Considered one of the finest permanent road courses in North America, the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is home to the famous “Corkscrew,” a three-story drop the begins with a tight left turn followed immediately by an even tighter right turn.
• Previously considered a track where passing is impossible, Alex Zanardi proved the experts wrong when on the final lap of the 1996 race, the fiery Italian known for daring moves dropped all four wheels in the inside grass of the right hander and got by race leader Bryan Herta.