“The Pass” occurred 20 years ago today, when Zanardi passed Herta (VIDEO)

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MONTEREY, Calif. – Today marks a special milestone in both Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and North American open-wheel racing history, as it’s 20 years to the day when Alex Zanardi completed the move known as “The Pass” on Bryan Herta at the Corkscrew at the top of the hill.

A release from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is below:

It was 20 years ago today that Alex Zanardi pulled off, and Bryan Herta had an unfortunate front row seat to, one of the greatest passes in the history of motor sports.

It’s the possibility to make IndyCar history that serves as the inspiration for today’s up-and-coming open wheel drivers who will compete Sept. 9-11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Mazda Road to Indy season finale. Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires, and Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda are the three open-wheel competition rungs that make up the Mazda Road to Indy. Those series will be joined this weekend by the IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires and the inaugural Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Invitational to create a true “Mazdapalooza” weekend.

“The Pass,” as it simply became known, took place Sept. 8, 1996, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at The Corkscrew turns on the last lap of the Monterey Grand Prix, the final race of the 1996 PPG Indy Car World Series. The two decades that have since passed have turned the amazing pass into folklore drivers and race fans still talk about.

Herta, driving the No. 28 Rahal Reynard Mercedes, was leading Zanardi, who started from pole in the No. 4 Target Ganassi Racing Reynard Honda, on the 83rd and final lap. As the two entered the braking zone at the top of The Corkscrew, Zanardi dove left to the inside entering Turn 8, came in hot so the car shot to the outside on exit of Turn 8 but with the lead. The entire car was outside the rumble strip to the right and Zanardi’s right-side tires were in the dirt both entering and exiting Turn 8A, the exit of The Corkscrew. He went on to win the race, his third of the year, while teammate Jimmy Vasser finished fourth and clinched the championship for Target Ganassi Racing.

As part of the Mazda Road to Indy weekend, Military Appreciation Day on Sat., Sept. 10, will honor the heroism and dedication of the men and women of our U.S. Military. All military personnel with valid U.S. Military-issued identification are admitted free with one guest on Sept. 10 for the Mazda Road to Indy races. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

Gates open each day at 7 a.m., with tickets starting at $20 (every ticket includes a paddock pass). Click HERE to purchase tickets for the Mazda Road to Indy as well as the Pirelli World Challenge, the fifth and final event of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 2016 major event season.

Click HERE for the full schedule of events during Mazda Road to Indy.

Photos: Al Manley

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Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.