LEXINGTON - Racing is back in action this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the season-opening Acura Sports Car Challenge, May 3 to 5.
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) brings premier professional sports car racing to the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, for the second consecutive year with four different racing series on track.
The Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio features the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as Sunday’s headliner in a timed two hours and 40 minutes endurance race. Saturday’s feature race is the two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. The other two series to take the track are IMSA Prototype Challenge and a doubleheader for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Five races in total will take the green flag during the weekend.
Last year in the Acura Sports Car Challenge, Acura Team Penske dominated the weekend in both qualifying and the race finishing 1-2. Along with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi), Helio Castroneves will be looking to go back-to-back at Mid-Ohio something that he accomplished in IndyCar open-wheel racing in 2000 and 2001. He also established the DPi track record in qualifying (1:11.837 / 113.155 mph) last year to claim the pole position on the starting grid.
“I’m excited. We just had our meeting, my teammate and my engineer, and it was really cool. Back again, we’re talking about several details, so just to be able to talk about what we did last year, and we obviously want to repeat it. It’s already a thrill,” said Castroneves, also a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. “That track (Mid-Ohio), several things happened. For me, it’s very special. I won there in IndyCar. I won there last year, so defending and coming back is awesome.
"Also, it’s the backyard of one of the Acura manufacturing (plants) where they build actually the NSX. So, when you start putting all those together, it’s like, ‘Man, this is a big weekend for us.’ We’re looking forward to it very much.”
IMSA is celebrating its 50th anniversary season in 2019. In addition to sleek, cool sports cars battling on track, IMSA will showcase a historic car display including 1979 Dennis Aase IMSA GTU, 1985 Porsche Fabcar GTP/L, 1993 MOMO Nissan NPTI GTP, 2002 Doran-Lista Dallar, and 2003 Porsche Fabcer DP. IMSA’s first race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was the Camel 6-Hour as Round 5 of 10 of the IMSA Camel GT series on July 15, 1972. Michael Keyser and Bob Beasley won in a Porsche 911 S.
Autograph sessions will be held with the drivers over the weekend. The Manufacturer Midway will feature merchandise vendors and interactive exhibits including a new vehicle display from Acura. Mid-Ohio is bringing back its popular Rookie Racers program again during each race weekend in 2019 which allows the youngest fans of the sport to get a behind the scenes experience.
On Friday at 5:30 p.m. an all-Acura guest panel joins a live edition of The Week In Sports Cars with Marshall Pruett Podcast held in Mid-Ohio’s victory circle. The free event open to all race fans at the track will feature Meyer Shank Racing drivers Jackie Heinricher, Katherine Legge and team owner Michael Shank.
Acura Team Penske will have Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya on hand to answer fans’ questions while moderated by Racer.com’s motorsports insider Marshall Pruett. The first 100 fans get to enjoy hot dogs and bottled water compliments of Acura.
Children 12 and under are admitted free (not the grandstands) when accompanied by a ticketed adult, plus free parking is available. General admission is $75 for the weekend, and Grandstand seating is $85 for the weekend ($5 additional for tickets purchased at the gate.). Garage paddock access is free for all spectators during the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio to get an up close view of the cars and drivers. Visit midohio.com or call 419-884-4000, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., to purchase tickets in advance.