Alex Tagliani (AIM Autosport photo)

Tagliani to run with Segal in Ferrari at Monterey this weekend

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Alex Tagliani’s one-off drive with the R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari team at Kansas, has in fact, turned into additional outings.

The French Canadian will again team with Jeff Segal in the team’s No. 61 Ferrari F458 Italia for this weekend’s GRAND-AM Rolex Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey. He’s also planned to be in the car for the GRAND-AM season finale at Lime Rock Park on Sept. 28.

Tagliani has five open-wheel starts at Monterey, with a best finish of sixth in 2004.

R.Ferri/AIM, jointly run and operated by Remo Ferri and Andrew Bordin, had Max Papis in the seat for the first eight races of the season alongside Segal, and the pair won their first race at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

However, Papis was unavailable for the GRAND-AM/American Le Mans Series joint weekend at Elkhart Lake’s Road America as he subbed for Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. Kenny Wilden filled in there while Tagliani was in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec; Tag filled in at Kansas and promptly stuck the car on pole.

In an interview with MotorSportsTalk a couple weeks ago, Tagliani raved about the opportunity to drive a Ferrari and hinted future outings were possible.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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