Eclectic weekend of sports car, other series racing on tap

Photo: Mazda Raceway

There’s no open-wheel racing this weekend as the Verizon IndyCar Series season is complete and Formula 1 has its only off weekend in October before the two-week North American swing at Circuit of The Americas for the United States Grand Prix and at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Mexican Grand Prix.

That being said, beyond NASCAR in Talladega and NHRA in Dallas, there’s still plenty on tap in a very eclectic weekend of racing, mainly in California but also in Germany and Japan to monitor.


Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull hosts two unique showcases of content this weekend in California and Indiana, with the season finales of both Red Bull Global Rallycross and Red Bull Air Race for 2017.

In Red Bull GRC’s case, the 12th and final race of the year comes from the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday. The Supercars finale airs on Saturday, October 14, at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Will Christien will be on the call.

Scott Speed is poised to wrap his third straight title for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, with teammate Tanner Foust looking to overtake him. A weekend preview is here.

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Air Race coverage from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the eighth round of the year, airs Sunday night, October 15, at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

After seven rounds, Czech pilot Martin Sonka leads the standings with 63 points, ahead of Yoshihide Muroya (Japan, 59), Pete McLeod (Canada, 56) and Kirby Chambliss (USA, 52).

The top four can still win the Air Race World Championship. A Q&A with Chambliss and a weekend primer is here.

MRLS HOSTS SRO, PWC, MX-5, PIRELLI GT3 CUP (Full weekend schedule)

The level of “eclectic” that is occurring at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend is fascinating. Two years ago in September, the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires and Pirelli World Challenge held its season finales at the track on the same weekend, and it was a case of “whose headliner is it anyway.” Then last year, MRTI joined other Mazda-powered series – IMSA’s Prototype Lites and the inaugural Global MX-5 Cup race were alongside – for an all-Mazda weekend.

And so the fall date at Mazda Raceway has its latest reinvention this week with four different series all on the same dance card.

K-PAX Racing McLaren joins SRO race at Mazda Raceway. Photo: PWC

The headliner is meant to be SRO’s Intercontinental GT Challenge, with the inaugural California 8 Hours on tap featuring a mix of primarily GT3 and GT4 cars in what will be the longest professional race in Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s history. This comes out of the relationship between SRO and Pirelli World Challenge, so this sees the traditional sprint series now having some of its teams running factory efforts in an endurance race.

Wright Motorsports, K-PAX Racing, RealTime Racing, Magnus Racing, GMG, TRG, Black Swan Racing and Ian Lacy Racing will fly the flag for PWC squads while Team Land and WRT are among the notable international additions. Here’s the full entry list for that race, which will stream via SRO Motorsports’ website (main site; TV site), and will also have domestic coverage on both CBS Sports Network and Motor Trend on Demand (details linked here). The eight-hour race begins at 9:15 a.m. PT on Sunday morning.

TC classes full field photo at COTA. Photo: PWC

PWC has its own cars and series on tap as well, with the three Touring Car classes in action for their finales. Given the high car counts (29 TC, 12 TCA, 9 TCB), the TC races are split off from the TCA/TCB races. All four races will occur on Saturday though; the TC races are at 9:50 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT, with the TCA/TCB races set for 9 a.m. and 2:05 p.m. PT; those stream via the series website.

In TC, Paul Holton (C360R Audi RS 3) leads the points going in with 183, ahead of Nick Wittmer (175), Greg Liefooghe (162) and Toby Grahovec (156). In TCA, Matthew Fassnacht (S.A.C. Racing Global MX-5 Cup) leads teammate Elivan Goulart by 12 points (209-197). In TCB, Jake Pipal (220), P.J. Groenke (218) and Canaan O’Connell (217) are spread by just three points. The TC class entry lists are here.

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Mazda hosts its second Global MX-5 Cup Challenge, with $75,000 awarded to the winner. Among the 20 cars entered, guest stars include Indy Lights champion Kyle Kaiser and iRacing gamer turned driver Glenn McGee, along with 2017 MX-5 Cup champion Patrick Gallagher and past champions Kenton Koch, Nathanial Sparks and John Dean II and a number of other series veterans including Dean Copeland, Nikko Reger, Bryan Ortiz, Robert Stout, Matt Cresci, Robby Foley and Drake Kemper. That entry list is linked here. Mazda will stream both races on its Facebook page, which run at 12:40 p.m. and 5 p.m. PT on Saturday.

The Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA is also in action with a pair of races itself. This series, which runs around the country and was at Road America for its most recent round at the end of September, has nearly 40 Porsches split between 991 and 997 GT3s, and a bunch of GT4s. Notably on the entry list here, Flying Lizard Motorsports founder Seth Neiman will return to the driver seat this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for his first event back under the team banner since 2014. Neiman will race a Porsche GT4 Cayman for Round 8 of the Porsche Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA October 12-14. These two races run at 5:10 p.m. PT Friday and 3 p.m. PT Saturday. Additional series details are linked here via the Competent Motorsport website.


Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche LMP Team: Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley

The seventh round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season takes place at Fuji Speedway in Japan, during the overnight hours of Saturday into Sunday. A catch-up with Porsche factory drivers Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber is linked here. The race runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time in Japan, which translates to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. ET in the U.S. FOX Sports has coverage via FS GO (10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET), FS2 (1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. ET) and FS1 (2:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. ET), while Radio Show Limited coverage for the race only via its RS3 channel.

Hockenheim will be the site of the DTM season finale. Audi drivers Mattias Ekstrom and Rene Rast are 1-2 in that series’ championship, Ekstrom with 172 points to Rast’s 151. It’s an interesting time for that series with Mercedes having announced it will leave at the end of 2018, and enter Formula E.

Meanwhile Audi Sport’s TT Cup series will also be in action in Hockenheim. The regular TT Cup event (two races) is joined by a unique Audi Sport TT Cup “Race of Legends” on Sunday, where 16 Audi legends (Christian Abt, Filipe Albuquerque, Frank Biela, Dindo Capello, Rahel Frey, Marcel Fassler, Jean-Marc Gounon, Lucas di Grassi, Vanina Ickx, Tom Kristensen, Lucas Luhr, Stephane Ortelli, Emanuele Pirro, Frank Stippler, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Marco Werner) will compete in a half hour race. Audi’s stream link is here and commentary will be supplied by Radio Show Limited. More details on RSL’s participation and times can be found via its website and @RSL_Studio on Twitter.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”