I had to skip
the BRDC team place at the Woodcote Park golf tournament the following day as I was on a flight to California.
The weekend racing was at Mazda Raceway, or Laguna Seca as it is known to the purists and was for the new combined IMSA and GrandAm series, plus lots of other GT cars. In fact I thought it looked a bit like one of those ‘run what you brung’ race meetings; Camaros, Mustangs, Aston Martins, Porsches, hordes of Mazdas in one race and all the more sophisticated (expensive) machinery in the other. Grand Ams, Ferraris, BMWs and the prototypes.
Gill Campbell, that lovely English lady who runs Mazda Raceway so exceptionally well, very kindly provided me with passes for practice day and invited me to lunch in the Grand Prix suite.
Lots of old friends there, including Bobby Rahal, Gary Cummings (now an IMSA official after giving up shrimp farming in Madagascar), Ron Trethan (former refuelling supremo to several top IMSA teams), Michael Gue, once the Tiga importer for the U.S, Andy Priaulx, former BTCC and WTCC champion, now driving for Bobby Rahal in the factory BMW, and the aforementioned Sam Bird.
I wondered how Sam had gone in the race (I decided to play golf on race day) and we happened to be on the same flight back to England. “So how was the race?” I enquired.
“We were going to start from the back because the ECU failed as we were going out to qualify. Then my co-driver destroyed the car in the morning warm-up.” Some days!
I was up at the top of the hill by that famous corner, The Corkscrew, and looking back down over the circuit during practice I reflected on how this place has grown up from a small track on an army base, designed mostly by the bulldozer driver, with earth banks and trees instead of Armco barriers, into the first class facility it is today. Quite a transformation.