Good morning from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where each rung of the Mazda Road To Indy will have two half-hour practice sessions and the Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda will qualify this afternoon.

I woke up early to a light marine layer and after grabbing some caffeine and breakfast, I made the fifteen minute drive to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  The marine layer quickly dissipated as I climbed the hill to the historic circuit.

Last night, I joined a couple of friends in the Cannery Row district of Monterey for dinner.   This is my first trip to Monterey, so I’m pretty excited to check out all of the typical “tourist” type areas.  The five by three block Cannery Row district is a collection of restaurants, shops and hotels built within the maze of old sardine canneries that once employed over 8,000 people.  Unfortunately the sardines were overfished and the last cannery shut down in 1973, but the legend of the area lives on in John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row.

Cannery row in Monterey, California (photo by Steve Wittich)

Cannery row in Monterey, California (photo by Steve Wittich)

The three of us decided to hit up the Cannery Row Brewing Company and that was definitely a great choice.  The “gastro-pub” has a diverse menu and over 70 different beers on tap.

I went with the Short Rib Grilled Cheese and wasn’t disappointed.  A perfectly braised short-rib was smothered in roasted tomato, glazed red onion, arugula, goat cheese, provolone, pickled peppers and jalapeños, and surrounded by a traditional San Francisco sour dough.

My sandwich was unique and tasty, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was little jealous of my dinning partners choice of Fisherman’s Stew.  A huge bowl of Tomato-Safforn Broth was heaping with clams, mussels, calamari and other fish.  I had to keep telling myself that I would be having seafood during a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf tonight.


Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda practice #1

The first of two half-hour practice sessions for the 15 Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda drivers began at 9am under sunny skies and warming temperatures.

The top 10 half-way through the session were: Jake Eidson, Luke Gabin, Nico Jamin, Aaron Telitz, Garth Rickards, Yufeng Luo, Ayla Agren, Peter Portante, Anthony Martin and Keyvan Andres Soori.

The entire half-hour session was run under green flag conditions.

Here is the full session time sheet.


1 Jake Eidson 1:26.207 16

2 Luke Gabin 1:26.630 17

3 Nico Jamin 1:26.637 13

4 Aaron Telitz 1:26.677 15

5 Garth Rickards 1:27.371 18

6 Yufeng Luo 1:27.376 15

7 Ayla Agren 1:27.634 18

8 Peter Portante 1:27.835 16

9 Anthony Martin 1:27.845 13

10 Keyvan Andres Soori 1:27.895 19

11 Parker Thompson 1:28.103 14

12 Nikita Lastochkin 1:28.106 8

13 James Dayson 1:29.132 19

14 Robert Alon 1:29.184 16

15 Max Hanratty 1:29.314 17


Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire practice #1

The Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire series took to the track for their first half hour practice session of the weekend at 9:45am.

The circuit quickly went red when the No. 91 JDC Motorsports machine of Kyle Connery came to a stop just after Turn 6 going up the hill towards The Corkscrew. He was brought back to the pits by the Holmatro Safety Team and was able to get back out on track and turn 7 laps, and the sixth best lap time.

Halfway through the session and the top 10 were: Pato O’Ward, Santiago Urrutia, Jose Gutierrez, Will Owen, Garett Grist, Weiron Tan, Raoul Owens, Timothe Buret, Florian Latorre and Neil Alberico.

Much of the session involved Pato O’Ward, Raoul Owens and Santiago Urrutia trading the top spot on the time sheets. The Team Pelfrey rookie trio also led yesterday’s testing.

With six minutes remaining in the session the track went red again when the No. 82 of Pato O’Ward ground to a halt at the entry to Turn 4. The safety team quickly got him off track and they were able to go back to green for three minutes.

Championship contender Neil Alberico has some work to do. The No. 3 Rising Star Racing backed Cape Motorsports with /WTR machine was stuck mid-field in 9th.

The final time sheet looked like this:
1 Pato O’Ward 1:23.445 7
2 Raoul Owens 1:23.672 8
3 Santiago Urrutia 1:23.751 6
4 Jose Gutierrez 1:23.758 13
5 Will Owen 1:24.038 14
6 Kyle Connery 1:24.163 7
7 Weiron Tan 1:24.273 12
8 Garett Grist 1:24.324 14
9 Neil Alberico 1:24.598 13
10 Timothe Buret 1:24.887 13
11 Florian Latorre 1:24.915 13
12 Parker Nicklin 1:25.030 13
13 Dalton Kellett 1:25.153 12
14 Michael Johnson 1:25.266 13
15 Victor Franzoni 1:25.434 4
16 Daniel Burkett 1:25.780 11
17 Alessandro Latif 1:26.387 11
18 Bobby Eberle(E) 1:26.677 13
19 Jay Horak(E) 1:29.183 14


Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire practice session #1

The 13 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire entries took to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Road Course for a half hour practice session at 10:30am.

The session ran cleanly for the first 8 minutes before the No. 21 of newcomer Heaman Choi found the gravel trap at the exit of Turn 9. The Holmatro Safety Team got him going again and the track went back to green with 15 minutes remaining in the session.

Most drivers had only completed five laps at the half-way point and the top five were: Kyle Kaiser, Spencer Pigot, Shelby Blackstock, Sean Rayhall and Felix Serralles.

Jack Harvey sat in his car for the first half of the session and turned … laps, … fewer than the rest of the field. TSO suspects that this was a tire related decision, but we’ll confirm that for our next update.

That was an interesting session with championship contenders coming in 2nd (Jones), Pigot (4th), Enerson (9th) and Harvey (12th).

The final time sheet looked like this:
1 Kyle Kaiser 1:16.046 13
2 Ed Jones 1:16.352 12
3 Sean Rayhall 1:16.407 14
4 Spencer Pigot 1:16.466 14
5 Max Chilton 1:16.490 14
6 Shelby Blackstock 1:16.706 13
7 Scott Anderson 1:16.946 14
8 Felix Serralles 1:17.002 13
9 RC Enerson 1:17.265 11
10 Juan Piedrahita 1:17.529 15
11 Ethan Ringel 1:17.620 15
12 Jack Harvey 1:17.733 8
13 Heamin Choi 1:20.645 3