This weekend's American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón will mark Bill Auberlen's 25th year of racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca…and 25 years of navigating its world famous Corkscrew.
The complex – Turns 8 and 8A on a track map – is one of racing's most iconic corners. It features an 18 percent drop from the entry of Turn 8 to the apex of 8A. A racecar drops five-and-half stories by the time it exits the Corkscrew – a span of 450 feet of track.
Auberlen says the Corkscrew is still a challenge after all these years; he first raced on the Monterey circuit in 1987. He and the rest of BMW Team RLL revisit the Corkscrew this weekend during the American Le Mans Series' six-hour race.
“As cars are getting better and better, you slow down easier into the corner,” said Auberlen, who shares a BMW M3 GT with Jorg Muller. “You have traction control and aids that get you through there easier than before. It's a joy now and still a thrill to dive off it and use markers in the distance to guide you through.”
Auberlen's history in Monterey includes driving Porsches, Mazdas and a Panoz, but he spent most of his time driving BMWs through the years. He won an IMSA World Sports Car race in 1998 at Mazda Raceway driving a BMW-powered prototype and was third a year later in a BMW V12 LMR.
“With the M3 GT, you can attack (the Corkscrew) much harder because you have less power,” he said. “In the prototype, you could smoke the tires off the top and go around but the grip came in at the bottom of the hill. With all the horsepower you had to really be careful on the entry not to overdo it.”
• The American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón is set for 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 12, from the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. ESPN2 airs the race at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 13. Live coverage is available starting at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
ALMS.com will offer additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users worldwide.