In an homage to of one of the more iconic passes made in racing history, IMSA driver Renger Van Der Zande overtook Dane Cameron with a late-race shove that set the crowd on their feet. Van Der Zande, driving the Visit Florida Racing Ligier, honed in on race leader Cameron in his Action Express Racing Cadillac and pushed his rival aside as the two ran wheel-to-wheel into the iconic Corkscrew.
Normally, The Corkscrew isn’t a place that invites passing, as it’s quite narrow, the apex is blind, and the drop—some three stories from the entry to the exit of the corner—keep a talented driver on their toes when running alone.
Van Der Zande turned up the pressure and forced Cameron to make hasty moves through traffic during the final moments of the race. Cameron unknowingly relinquished the lead when he was, caught momentarily behind a slower Mercedes GT on the way into the blind Turn Six. As carrying a neat line through this challenging corner determines a driver’s speed up the hill to The Corkscrew, Cameron’s compromised entry gave Van Der Zande the opportunity to roll alongside come the following corner.
The difference in speed through Turn Six is obvious from the aerial camera, and with the additional momentum from a clean run, Van Der Zande blitzes past the Mercedes and positions himself alongside Cameron as the two crest the hill. How the two big prototypes managed to get through the corner without any damage comes down to the skill levels of the two drivers—they’re clearly earning their paychecks. Yes, Van Der Zande nudged his way by with broad shoulders and some forcefulness, but he presented himself well before the turn-in point, and the move was far from a reckless push. It’s a much prettier, less aggressive, and less desperate pass than one which went down into motorsport history twenty-one years ago at the same corner.
If the two youngsters in their prototypes handled themselves like gentleman, Alex Zanardi channeled his inner nightclub bouncer when he pummeled his way into the lead at CART Laguna Seca 1996. After spending the last chunk of a tense race hunting down leader Bryan Herta, Zanardi made an unbelievably spectacular move at the same corner on the penultimate lap.
As the two had a clean run through the preceding Turn Six, Zanardi, had to take a lunge at the corner if he intended to get by. For half a moment, Herta opened the door as he set up for The Corkscrew and Zanardi pounced.
By the time Herta closed down on Zanardi, he was already fully alongside and—squeezed slightly by his opponent—unable to stick it down the inside. Off into the dirt Zanardi sailed as the cameras snapped, but he kept it off the walls, bounded over the curbs, and rejoined the track three stories below. Even with dirty tires, the Italian kept ahead until the checkered flag—and committed one of motorsport’s most daring overtakes.
It’s nice to see some of the new blood willing to make the occasional commemorative move.