To this day Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca donates their net profits to the local non-profit organizations who donate their time to help run the events. In 2001 Mazda joined the team and together with SCRAMP have made numerours improvements to the track that have helped make it a premier racing facility. The pit row suites and garages available today, along with numerous on-track safety improvements, have all stemmed from this partnership. There is that pesky 92db noise restriction the track has the grand majority of the time, but a few times a year the restriction is lifted. Lucky for me, this was one of those times.
The race weekend technically started on Friday, but since Friday was strictly a practice and qualifying day, I used it as my “travel” day. Not that qualifying isn’t fun to watch, but since I’m not “ballin out of control” and don’t have a G5 on stand by, I needed to allocate some time for the 7 hour drive from SoCal to NorCal. I arrived at the track early in the morning and man was it cold! The pics may show you a calm sunny California day, but the track’s location and close proximity to the coast (less than 20 miles) attracts a very cold wind chill.
The first scheduled race of the weekend featured the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama. The GT3 challenge is just as the name states, a spec-car race utilizing Porsche GT3s. This year the series was split into two classes in order to make room for the newly released Porsche GT3 Cup Car that is wider, more powerful and has more aero than its predecesor-the 997 GT3. The new cars will run in the Platinum Cup while the rest of the field will compete in the Gold Cup. At a quick glance the cars may look very similar, but if you take a close look you can clearly see the differences. The easiest and most noticeable visual difference are the daytime running LED lights under the headlamps, but if you’re a Porsche aficionado you should be able to spot the wider rear fenders and wing along with the aggresive new front end the car shares with its road driven counterpart.
Saturday’s race was round 3 of their series, with round 4 scheduled for Sunday. Ross Smith of Maxwell Paper Racing took the overall win in the #5 car, while Amadeo Quiros, II took first in the Gold Cup in the AASCO Motorsports #14.
The newer Porsches were clearly faster, as they took 8 out of the top 11 overall spots once everything was said and done. Race winner Ross Smith set a new race lap record with a 1:28.117. Almost 2 seconds faster than the Gold Cup winner.