A Decisive Finale And Strong Ticket Sales: Monterey Speed Week

By Peter Nelson

September 10, 2019

 

This weekend marks the finale of the WeatherTech Sprint Cup at Laguna Seca, with a slim margin of 1 point separating the leaders until the race ends on Sunday.

After 6 events this year, the 7th and final of its inaugural year will be a nail-biter in GT Daytona: Zacharie Robichon, co-driver of the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R has a 175-174 advantage in the standings over Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman, drivers of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3.

For these drivers it’s a dream come true to have the deciding race at the beautiful, historic, NorCal track.

“I’ve been fortunate to go there a lot over the years, and anytime I get to go there, it still kind of gives me the goosebumps just thinking about the 4- or 5-year-old Trent playing Gran Turismo 2, Gran Turismo 3.” Trent Hindman told IMSA.com.

 

Photo: michaelshankracing.com

Rookie WeatherTech Championship driver Robichon, who’s also the reigning Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama champion, had similar things to say to IMSA.com:

“Being a track that’s quite famous, it’s been on all the video games for the last 20 years,” Robichon, 27, said. “I probably spent hours on it when I was 10 years old, so I kind of know the layout. But that doesn’t give you the real impression of what you’re going to get. I’ll approach it like I do any other track and be cautious when I get there, and lean on more experienced guys around me.”

Farnbacher and Hindman have two strategies on their minds. They could potentially win the Sprint Cup crown without winning one of the races, as long as they gain just two points on Robichon. The No. 86 duo could also claim the overall GTD title if they leave Laguna Seca with a gap of more than 35 points on the nearest competitor. They take a 37-point lead over Robichon into the weekend.

“Our focus is not, ‘Hey, we need to finish in this position to win a championship,” Hindman said. “Our focus is on we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and if we have the opportunity, we’re going to go for a race win.”

Whatever happens, it will be in front of a good amount of fanfare compared to previous years. According to this article on Racer.com, IMSA ticket sales increased 30% over 2018. This is partly due to the track offering discounted, bundle pricing for both the IMSA race and the IndyCar finale the following week, as well as handsome packages for sponsors and partners that include off-track entertainment; a strategy fine-tuned from hosting Monterrey Car Week. IMSA and IndyCar being back-to-back is proudly referred to as Monterey Speed Week.

 

Photo: the Drive

Speaking of IndyCar’s season finale, the September 20-22 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey marks IndyCar's return to the track after a 14-year hiatus. It is also considered by many to be the “spiritual home” of IndyCar, thanks to significant events in it’s history happening there. These include Mario Andretti’s farewell race, as well as Alex Zanardi’s legendary pass (in fact, the Pass) on Bryan Herta at The Corkscrew in the 1996 PPG IndyCar World Series season finale.

Get ready for two consecutive weekends that will surely be major highlights of the 2019 international motorsports season.

One more thing of note: check out this race preview of Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series 9 and 10 on IMSA.tv, which is also going down this weekend.