RaceSchool.com Podcast Pato O’Ward Interview

Pato O’Ward came into last year’s 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with an outside chance to clinch the championship. After contact early that ultimately led to his car’s retirement; that put a sour note on the ending of an otherwise strong, two-race winning season. In fact, his race wins earned him a McLaren Formula One Team test during the off-season.  Leading into this year’s race, O’Ward had disappointing finishes on the street circuit in St. Pete and on the oval at Texas (where he had a fast car). He was hoping to have better luck here on this picturesque seaside street circuit where he receives a lot of fan support around the track (especially the Mexican fans). We spoke before the race weekend and he shared his thoughts on a number of subjects leading into this race (where he would end up finishing in fifth place). That was good momentum for him going into the remainder of the season. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: In the next race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, O’Ward would go on to make a decisive pass late in the race and take the victory. He’s now won on a street course, permanent road course and an oval. Keep your eyes on this young lion.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

2022 AGPLB Pato wave crop

Pato O’Ward waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach where he qualified 11th and would go on to earn a top five finish.

 2022 AGPLB Pato cockpit crop

Pato O’Ward is on a mission this year to earn his first NTT IndyCar Series championship. After a rocky start to the season, things picked up in the right direction at Long Beach.

2022 AGPLB Pato Shoreline crop

Pato O’Ward rockets down Shoreline Drive early in the race. Notice how pristine and clean the car is. Later in the race the massive amount of rubber “marbles” on the track would take its toll on that clean car.

2022 AGPLB Pato T5 crop

O’Ward pushed hard in the race to earn his first top five finish of the year. Notice the rubber build up not only on the track but even on the body ramps in front of the rear tires.

2022 AGPLB Pato T10 crop

Late in the race, O’Ward’s still pushing hard to gain every position he can. Rubber tire marks makes for a filthy car, yet it always looks better when you have a strong finish.

 Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason

 

 

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2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview, Part 1

The 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to its normal springtime calendar date (after being last year’s season finale in September) on April 8-10. In this week’s blog we’ll take a look at the support races during the weekend.

Highlighting the Saturday action will be the stars and cars of the IMSA WeatherTech Series. After two races and 36 hours of endurance competition, it’s all about the sprint at Long Beach – 100 minutes to be exact. Acura finished one, two at the Rolex 24hrs of Daytona and Cadillac swept the podium at the Sebring 12hrs. Acura will want to win their “home” race at Long Beach and the track record is held by Helio Castroneves in an Acura. However it was Cadillac that brought home the victory here last year. Top drivers from around the world will fight hard for victory in one of the marquee events of the season. 

GTD Pro is a new class taking over for GTLM this year. The cars are the same spec as the GTD class but feature pro drivers only. Keep in mind that the GTD cars typically employ one pro driver to be paired with an amateur driver so navigating traffic will be key in qualifying and the race. These two classes will provide the majority of entries for the IMSA race.

For those that yearn for the good old days of IMSA GTP, you’re in luck as the Porsche 962s and many more cool cars of yesteryear will have their own show to put on during the Historic IMSA GTP Challenge with two races over the weekend on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Sports cars are all the rage this weekend with the Porsche Carrera Cup Series making their Long Beach debut. These are all spec Porsche 911GT3 Cup race cars and since they are identical in build, should put on a great show on Saturday morning and closing out the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Over 30 cars are expected to take part in the racing action.

Of course Robby Gordon’s Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Truck Series always thrills the fans with their high flying act over the temporary ramp jumps installed around the track. These trucks grab big air time but are equally adept at “bicycling” around the track on two wheels. Their massive suspension travel allows them to really take advantage of using the curbs to cut the corners even further for a better lap time. The racing is superb too as “reverse aerodynamics” help the trucks in the back to have an aero advantage over the trucks in front. Don’t miss these truck races on Saturday and Sunday afternoon!

Not to be left out is the Super Drift Challenge. These high-horsepower cars with extreme steering angles will amaze anyone who sees how fast and how loose cars can get while producing billowing clouds of tire smoke as they race their way around the Turn 9 – Turn 11 complex. It’s almost like synchronized mayhem as the cars are released from Seaside Way to “pair up” with each other in the sideways sliding action. Friday night and Saturday night will thrill one and all with the loud and extreme party atmosphere of these incredible machines and drivers.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit: https://gplb.com/weekend-schedule/

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Will Acura win during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend or will Cadillac spoil the homecoming?

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Robby Gordon’s Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks are a high-fly act and fan favorite.

Photos by Larry Mason

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Blast From the Past – Fast Lane Racing School Graduate Wins Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

04-20-2013-tpcr-win1-2 Adam Carolla 2013 Pro Race

A fan favorite at the Grand Prix of Long Beach over the years was the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Fast Lane was the official school to get all of the celebrities up to speed for their first time racing. In 2012 Adam Carolla won the event as a celebrity. He returned the following year as a Pro and won the event back-to-back! After his second race win I had a chance to talk to him about how it went and found out that a very unusual thing happened to him during the race that he had to overcome. Listen to his story and enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Back To School Track Day @ Big Willow

Photo by Larry Mason

     It was a great day on Saturday, September 4, 2021 when Fast Lane Racing School hosted a track day for former students, friends and family. Also included were racers from the Sports Car Club of America’s Cal Club region and from the Vintage Auto Racing Association. All those present got together to spend time pounding laps around the “Fastest Road in the West” – Willow Springs International Raceway. There were three run groups that comprised beginner/intermediate, advanced and an open wheel group that rotated every 20 minutes for their on-track sessions during the day. In between sessions, Fast Lane instructors were there to coach and encourage the participants in their quest for speed around the track. 

93Lola WIRPhoto by Larry Mason

      It certainly wasn’t your typical track day as the variety of cars was extensive combining high performance vehicles and open-wheel formula cars and open cockpit sports racing machines. Additionally, it also marked the debut of the Fast Lane Racing School Indy Lights race car on track. The Buick-powered 93 Lola chassis weighs about 1400 pounds and puts out approximately 425 HP! The straightaways get real short with a car like this! Just think, you could be driving this fantastic race car at a future Fast Lane school! 

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     The FSE LA group came out with their beautifully presented Formula 4 race cars and spent the day exciting the onlookers with such cool and fast race cars. There were numerous high performance and exotic cars on track including Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Porsche and Lamborghini along with American muscle cars like Mustang, Corvette and even a Cobra Daytona coupe. Along with a couple of Fast Lane Pace Cars and Scion FRS Pro/Celebrity cars from the Grand Prix of Long Beach, everyone was able to get behind the wheel even if you didn’t drive a stick shift.

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     The morning started off with registration where everyone was treated to a free T-shirt commemorating the day, a lunch ticket, wristband and sticker denoting the run group. A driver’s meeting in front of the cafeteria followed going over procedures, flags and safety information. A free lunch was included in the price of admission and featured track day favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, along with a trio of salads – potato, regular and fruit. Apple and peach cobbler for dessert made for some full bellies. A cooler filled with water and soft drinks helped wash everything down.

WS2 1290 Sep0421 1117AM CaliPhoto                 Photo By CaliPhotography

       The next Fast Lane Track Day is scheduled for October 31st on the “Streets of Willow” track just behind the big track. If it’s anything like the first one, this will definitely be a treat and not a trick. We look forward to seeing you there! For more information contact Fast Lane today!

 

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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