It wasn’t a quiet day at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – we had cars on track from the Continental Championship, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Cup, Porsche GT3 Cup and the Mazda Mx-5 Cup – but it was very quiet as far as the TUDOR Championship cars. Their track time was zero on Friday. This was despite the fact that the teams were expected to have their trucks on site and set up on Wednesday.
On the bright side, the paddock is full. Very full. Entry fees alone ought to be able to keep IMSA afloat for quite some time…but the crowded schedule is not something that is pleasing the TUSCC teams, and it is the lack of track time that is the subject of conversation amongst them.
On one side, you’ve got the ‘Am’ teams, the ones dependent on funded drivers. The lack of track time makes paying-to-play a tough sell and it doesn’t look much better as the season rolls on. It appears as if the two one-hour sessions will be pretty much the norm as we move forward.
This also affects the Pro teams – they’re here to race and they sure don’t get much track time with this schedule. Many of these Pro programs are funded by factories – they’re here to race in front of fans, but the fans are not drawn in by the support races; they’re here for the premiere class cars, which in this case are the TUSCC cars.
This discussion will continue…
Meanwhile, because the two practice sessions are for all four classes combined, the expectations are high that neither of the sessions will end up with much green flag time, given that Laguna is surround by kitty litter almost all the way around the track.
Also at Laguna, it is very common in race situations for cautions to simply create more cautions. Obviously nobody is rooting for the sessions to be wasted, but Corvette racing is ready, just in case. Jan Magnussen: “We’re able to go pretty well right off of the truck, so if none of us get much track time, it might work into an advantage for us.” Doug Fehan agreed that they are good off the truck, but cautioned that even with the best team and the best car, “In racing it is 25% the car, 25% the team and 50% good fortune. You can have the best of everything, but if fortune is against you, there isn’t much you can do sometimes.”
Is the series concerned about sandbagging? Jan has a solution. “Award points for leading the most laps as well as qualifying on pole. The temptation of points will go a long way in dumping that practice. You want points – you’ve got to earn them and show what you’re capable of.”
For Jon Bennett, the down time since Sebring has been spent not so much testing the PC car, but going kart racing with his co-driver Colin Braun. “For me, I need that seat time and the kart is a very effective training. Plus it’s a lot cheaper than running the PC car.”
As far as future races, Jon has a massive conflict coming up – the Friday of the PC/Lites race in Kansas, Jon’s son graduates from high school. “This is a big deal for us, and I can’t miss his graduation. I guess I’ll work on something to get that sorted out.”
To be honest, without track time, there simply wasn’t much to report. If the drivers were present, it was simply to attend a drivers meeting and then vanish off to enjoy one of the great scenic areas of the world.