YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


McCaw Has to Like What He Sees


FONTANA — On Saturday, Bruce McCaw owned the fastest car that has ever turned a lap at California Speedway.

On Sunday, he owned the car that won the Marlboro 500.

They were different cars with different drivers.

Mauricio Gugelmin sat on the pole for Sunday's race after his 240.942-mph lap, the fastest in qualifying at any track, and he finished fourth, a lap behind teammate Mark Blundell, largely because of problems with blistered tires.

"In the middle of the race, we seemed to have the problem solved and we had the race in our control at the end," Gugelmin said. "Then--boom--the right rear tire just went away. I had a big moment in Turn 1 to save the car. . . . We even blistered the last set we put on for the final short part of the race."

Gugelmin led the race three times and was ahead on the 231st of 250 laps when the tire went. Blundell led the final 11 laps.

The first- and fourth-place finishes could bode well for the future.

"We're really focused next year on making a run for the championship," said McCaw, who has founded and sold an airline and a cellular phone company. "We've got two guys who I think are as good as any drivers in the series. We've got a team that's as good as any in the series. We really want to win a championship."

Gugelmin finished fourth in the points standings and Blundell was sixth.


The irony was quickly evident when the Reynard-Toyota of Juan Fangio II caught fire on one of the parade laps before the Marlboro 500.

Fangio's car is owned by Dan Gurney, grand marshall for Sunday's race and godfather of Indy car racing in Southern California.

Gurney toured the track in a convertible, and his driver was probably going faster than the Indy cars went on 20 of their first 22 laps. The first 10 laps were run under caution because of Fangio's fire and the fluids his car dumped on the track, and two laps later Paul Tracy's crash brought out another caution flag.

So the oval where the fastest qualifying lap in motor racing history, 240.942 mph, was run on Saturday found 26 cars turning 72 mph to begin its first Indy car race.

Consolation for Gurney's All-American Racers came when PJ Jones finished 10th.


The day for Arie Luyendyk, absent from the Indy Racing League to drive one of Chip Ganassi's cars for the injured Alex Zanardi, was cut short when the car of Arnd Meier spun in front of him and the two crashed.

Luyendyk told Ganassi, "I'm fine" and signed "thumbs up" to the team before being taken to Loma Linda Medical Center with a mild concussion.


Michael Andretti's car overheated and he was told to call it a season on Lap 107.

"They were worried about it blowing up if we stayed out there," Andretti said. "I didn't want to end up in the wall if it did break."


The first garage door down, indicating a team that was finished for the day, was the home team. Roger Penske, who built California Speedway and who owns the cars of Tracy and Al Unser Jr., had both drivers with him before the race was 45 laps old.

Tracy went out first, losing control and crashing on the fourth turn of Lap 12. Tracy had run more practice laps on the track than any other driver, because his tests were part of the procedure to put the final surface on the track.

Unser's car caught fire when he broke a header.


The Marlboro 500 was actually the Marlboro 507 1/4. CART officials measured California Speedway at 2.029 miles around, adding 7 1/4 miles to the race. . . . Bobby Rahal, nearing the finish line of his career, has signed Mike Borkowski to drive an Indy Lights car next season. Borkowski celebrated his new contract by ending the 11-race winning streak of Trans-Am driver Tom Kendall, from La Canada, on Saturday at Pikes Peak International Raceway. . . . Tasman Motorsports has signed Cristiano da Matta and Airton Dare to drive Indy Lights cars in 1998 and said that Tony Kanaan and Helio Castro-Neves, who finished one-two in Indy Lights this year for Tasman, will be given opportunities to drive Indy cars next year.

Los Angeles Times Articles