FOGARTY: Mid-Ohio Challenge Up Next

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Jon Fogarty on track at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year in the GAINSCO McLaren.
Jon Fogarty on track at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year in the GAINSCO McLaren.

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Hi there, it’s Jon Fogarty again and it’s time for the tough, challenging course at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend.

It always seems to be in the heat of the summer when we come to Mid-Ohio and this week will be no different.  We’ll roll into Lexington, Ohio, this Wednesday with our GAINSCO McLaren 650S and compete in the two GT Class rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge.

Last month, we ran the longest track on the PWC circuit with the legendary Road America, and that circuit is a challenge for the McLaren chassis with its long straightaways. Our car is more suited for the tighter corners and good transition turns rather than the long straights. So our results (12th in both races) were not to our liking in Elkhart Lake.

But I feel good about our chances this weekend at Mid-Ohio. The track should lend to our McLaren and I really like the track too. In fact, I made my national racing debut at Mid-Ohio in 1995 at the SCCA Runoffs. It was my first big race away from the West Coast and I got fourth in the Formula Vee final.

Mid-Ohio always reminded me of a Midwest version of Sears Point (Sonoma Raceway) with its elevation changes and sweeping corners. It’s a fun track to drive, even if it is very hot in the summer. It’s a physical track for any driver and you really need to be fit to race well at Mid-Ohio.  Luckily, I have been working inside the gym in the last month as well as biking outside to prepare for the hot and humid conditions which always make up Mid-Ohio in the summer.

Jon Fogarty says he is hoping for a big weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Jon Fogarty says he is hoping for a big weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Mid-Ohio’s layout has been one of my favorites dating back to that SCCA Runoffs debut. I won my first professional race there in 1998 in the Barber Dodge series. It was a wet race and someone stopped in the “keyhole” in front of me. So I had to stop too and then come back through the field to win. That was a thrilling way to victory lane.

I won two races at Mid-Ohio with the GAINSCO team in the 2007 and 2008 Grand-Am races with Alex Gurney. We finished third a couple of times too.

My only GT race at Mid-Ohio was in the Flying Lizard Porsche in ALMS and it was fun to drive that car on that track.  So I’m anxious to get on the Mid-Ohio 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit with the GAINSCO McLaren 650S.

The track is a compromise of so many different options in setting up the car. It’s almost like the compromise you take in an endurance car with the different driving styles of the multi-driver entry. The setup isn’t really that crazy but the ups and downs of the corners can be tricky. You can help the car with grip and that could be important in the Pirelli World Challenge doubleheader.

I have to be honest though. We had a tough setback with the crash at Long Beach and I feel now that we are back in position to be a contender. With the McLaren set up well for Mid-Ohio and my liking the track, I have a good feeling coming into this weekend with the Honda Indy 200.

The crowds are always big for this weekend at Mid-Ohio and I think the GT division will put on a tremendous show in both Saturday and Sunday races. If you are coming to Mid-Ohio, drop by the paddock and check out our GAINSCO “Red Dragon” McLaren. In fact, please check out all of the Pirelli World Challenge machines as these cars are some of the most unique sports cars in the world.

I believe you’ll have a great time watching the sports cars on the same track as the Indy Cars this weekend.  And, if you can’t make it to Mid-Ohio, you can watch our races live on world-challenge.com or motortrendondemand.com.

The Mid-Ohio races will also be televised on the CBS Sports Network on Sunday, Aug. 7, and Thursday, Aug. 11.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you at the track.