A major driving force behind bringing next weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was motorcycle racing legend Wayne Rainey, who makes his home in Monterey with his wife Shae and son Rex.
Unfortunately, Rainey’s participation in the return of MotoGP to Monterey and Yamaha’s 50th anniversary celebration is going to be very limited. Rainey, who is paralyzed from the chest down, suffered some rather severe burns to his lower torso and is only able to sit for very brief periods of time.
Rainey is one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time. He won three straight World Championships from 1990-92 riding for Yamaha. He was again leading the championship in 1993 when he crashed and suffered his paralyzing spinal cord injury.
Rainey also “owned” Laguna Seca during his stellar career. His many wins included three consecutive 500cc World Championship victories at the world-renowned circuit.
“Wayne worked tirelessly and aggressively to bring MotoGP back to Laguna Seca,” said Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO/general manager Gill Campbell. “Without his efforts and his influence, it might not have happened. We are so sorry his recent injury will preclude his full-time participation in the weekend and the Yamaha celebrations as well as the Yamaha & GE-sponsored Superstars of Super Karts event.
“Every conceivable effort will be made to help him be a part of this historic event within the parameters set by his doctors. Wayne Rainey is not only a motorcycle racing legend, he is an incredible human being and a great friend to the track.”
As much as his doctors will allow him to, Rainey still wants to participate in Yamaha Motor Corp., USA’s “Weekend of Champions” as the motorcycle manufacturer celebrates its 50th anniversary. The event is bringing together 19 former Yamaha racing champions who will participate in autograph sessions as well as other activities at the track.
Autograph times are scheduled for July 8-9 from 9-10:30 a.m. and from 12:30-2 p.m. and on July 10 from 9-10:30 a.m. and noon-1:30 p.m. All autograph sessions will take place in the Yamaha Marketplace located in the Lakebed area at the track.
“This race is going to be exciting; it’s going to be a great event,” Rainey said Friday. “There isn’t a better place in the world for people to come and enjoy the highest level of motorcycle racing.
“It’s all come together with the cooperation of so many, including Yamaha, Gill Campbell, Bo Beresiwsky (vice president of facility operations), Gordon McCall and the whole staff at Laguna Seca.”
Rainey will be on “As the Wheels Turn” motors ports radio show this morning, which has moved to KNRY 1240-AM from 11 a.m. to noon. I have the privilege of co-hosting the show with another veteran motor sports journalist, Tony Karis. Listeners can call in if they have a question for Rainey. The numbers are 899-5100 or 1-800-477-2134.
Sober Grad Support
For the fourth consecutive year, the Skip Barber Racing School supported Monterey County Sober Grad Night Celebrations this year. The Racing School, which operates out of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, donated over $2,300 in programs to organizers as part of the concerted effort to keep teens off the road on graduation night.
High schools held their celebrations from June 3 through June 18 and schools had until June 27 to submit entries. In May, 15 Monterey area high schools received invitations to participate, of which 11 responded. One entry from each school was accepted into the final drawing. At the final drawing, held on June 27, three graduates each won a Dodge/Skip Barber Driving School, valued at $795. This year’s winners were Greg Campbell of Soledad High School, Danea Johnson of Seaside High School and Desarae Rabolgo of North Salinas High School.
“This is a great cause to be a part of,” said Jeanette Veitenheimer, West Coast Manager for the Skip Barber Racing School. “These kids have every reason to celebrate. We just want to help them celebrate responsibly.”
“We’re very appreciative of Skip Barber’s contribution and involvement,” said Debbie Spiers, one of the parent-organizers. “This will help create a safe and memorable evening for the graduating high school seniors. Together we are making and investment in our children’s futures.”
ALMS at Infineon
Infineon Raceway will host the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood Winery July 15-17. The two-hour, 45-minute race on Infineon’s 12-turn, 2.53-mile circuit will be the fifth event of the 10-race ALMS season.
The series has renamed two of its classes for 2005. The four classes of competition are now called LMP1, LMP2, GT1 (formerly GTS) and GT2 (formerly GT). The ALMS has invited Maserati to compete this year as a guest of the series with its MC12 in the GT1 class. The new Maserati MC12 ALMS endeavor marks the first time in 48 years that Maserati has fielded a full factory race car in the U.S.
Also on the card is the SPEED World Challenge with competition in Touring Car and GT classes. All cars are production based, including Corvette, Audi RS and Ford Mustang, as well as a whole host of other makes.
Advance tickets are available by calling 1-800-870-RACE or logging on to infineonraceway.com or Ticketmaster.com. Children 12 and under are free and parking is free.
by: David Coffin Pitstop