On the Track

On the Track

Laguna Seca is a great place for unrestricted views of the action. Except for our location during the race...

Saturday Morning Practice

Greg Moore locks them up on the entrance to Turn 2.

Greg Locking Up
Christian Practices

Christian Fittipaldi puts the Swift/Ford through its paces.

Alex Zanardi, on provisional pole from his practice session the day before, cranks up the Target Reynard/Honda.

Zanardi Approaching
Richie Sliding through the Corkscrew


Richie Hearn loses control coming into the Corkscrew in his Lola/Ford and slides across in a cloud of smoke.

Bobby Rahal, veteran driver of the series, tries to find the power in his Reynard/Ford that put teammate Bryan Herta on pole position.

Rahal Qualifying
Richie and Gualter

Richie back on track and being passed by Gualter Salles.

Alex Zanardi descends the Corkscrew - using the track this time - as he tries to match Herta's pole speed, but comes in second.

Teammate Jimmy Vasser (below) qualified sixth, but went on to win the race...

Zanardi in the Corkscrew
Vasser Qualifying

Afterwards Zanardi pulls alongside to congratulate him, but accidentally knocked wheels. "All season Alex has had this thing with the donuts, so I was wondering how to top that. I figured I would just stuff it into the fence on the cool-down lap."

This year Bryan Herta turned the tables to take pole position ahead of Alex. A good start allowed him to lead the first 21 laps with Alex excitingly close on his tail. However, as his tyres went off, he was forced to drop back and eventually finished sixth.

Bryan Herta Takes Pole
Zanardi Tries Harder

During practice Alex misjudged Turn 10 and made an unscheduled drive through the pits. When asked on the radio why that happened he replied "just practising for penalties!"

Here Christian Fittipaldi puts the Kmart/Budweiser Swift/Ford into eleventh place on the grid. He dropped out of the race on the 71st lap with suspension problems.

Christian Qualifying
Blundell Qualifying

Englishman Mark Blundell supplied another good weekend for the PacWest team, here seen qualifying fourth.

The disappointment continued for Paul Tracy. He qualified twelfth (eight places better than fellow Penske driver Al Unser, Jr.) but dropped out on the 23rd lap on Sunday with engine trouble.

Tracy Tries to Keep Up
Franchitti Qualifying

This turned out to be Scotsman Dario Franchitti's last race for the Hogan team. Before Fontana he announced his plans to join Team Green next season and was promptly dropped from the race.

Gil de Ferran started the race ninth on the grid and finished fifth in his Reynard/Honda, sufficient to secure his second place in the championship.

De Ferran Qualifying
Andretti Qualifying

Michael Andretti had an even worse weekend than his teammate Fittipaldi. Qualifying the Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift/Ford 14th, he dropped out of the race on the 21st lap with electrical problems.

Mauricio Gugelmin qualified fifth behind teammate Blundell. He dropped from third to finish ninth when he lost his brakes on the last lap and ran off the end of the front straight.

Gugelmin Qualifying
Moore in the Corkscrew

Greg Moore tight against the curb on the Corkscrew, trying hard to improve on his seventh place qualifying. His engine blew on the 64th lap of the race ending his chances to take second place in the championship.

Mark Blundell finished second in the race in the Motorola car, which clinched the engine manufacturers' title for Mercedes. He also set fastest lap of the race at 113.45 mph.

Blundell in the Corkscrew
Ribeiro in the Corkscrew

Andre Ribeiro had a strong race after qualifying tenth. He finished fourth, losing a spot to Zanardi when he knocked Scott Pruett off the track on the 79th lap.


The Race

Oh... Who put that there? We could see the race, but this did rather restrict the view from our grandstand seats.

View from our Seats

In the Paddock

Paul Jasper's Web Site | Racing | Laguna Seca 1997

1997 Paul Jasper. Last updated Friday May 06, 2005.