For most of the drivers participating in this weekend’s Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship event, plunging down Laguna Seca’s world-famous Corkscrew at unabated speed rates as the most exhilarating portion of the trip.
For one of those drivers — Andy Lally of the GRT Magnus outfit — falling down the Corkscrew in his Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with its 500hp V10 engine wailing, is a distant second on the Californian thrill chart.
“It was 2002, the week before the Six Hours of The Glen,” Lally told RACER. “And I was going to be racing a prototype with Darren Law as my teammate in the Picchio. Red Bull had just come along and they literally threw down cash for this street luge competition flying down the steep hills in San Francisco. They flew four-man heats, and it was a 32-man bracket. And so it was done with elimination heats to keep advancing through the semis until you got to the final.
“Red Bull flew you out, put you up in a really nice hotel, and then they threw up like five grand cash to win. And then it was like three grand, two grand for second and third. And then they threw up 2,500 bucks for the long jump competition.”
Thanks to some recently unearthed film from the event, Lally’s craziest trip to the Bay Area shows the sports car ace, in his early 20s, doing things that make racing a Lamborghini in Monterey look like child’s play.
“I finished second in the race at San Francisco, and then after the race, we made the jumps higher at the intersection, and then we had a long-distance jumping contest,” Lally said. “You had to launch off of it right with your body, in the right position so that you would fly flat. I actually used roll bar padding on the base of my luge, because your spine would take such a hit.
“But my feet were on the pegs and you square up right before you go into the intersection, and then you plow into the intersection really hard. Your pegs back in the day would always kick your feet up a little bit, and then you’d readjust. I readjusted right as I was going over the ramp a little bit too low, so that the balls of my feet were essentially on the pegs instead of like the middle of my feet.
“So my heels were hanging low, and I ended up landing nose-down just a little bit, but at 50 miles an hour — it felt like jumping off a five-story building and landing on my feet. So I blew my ankle up, it was purple and all disgusting, and I was on crutches all week. Then I flew back to New York, drove up to Watkins Glen and I was limping around. It was a little bit tough to drive that race, but as it often did, the Picchio didn’t last six hours anyway, which I was thankful for.”
Known for his love of skateboarding, mixed martial arts, and winning expensive watches at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Lally laughs at the insane early 2000s stage of his life where self-preservation seemed to be an afterthought.
“The impact at San Francisco on every landing was similar to like being in the big one at the Daytona 500,” he said. “We sent a handful of guys to the hospital that year, and it was just… it was crazy. Since there was a decent chunk of money up for grabs, all the idiots, myself included, showed up trying to get it, and it was so dumb. I mean, my hospital bill for my ankle took most of what I won. But it was a cool memory.
“Definitely, when I stood at the top of that hill and looked down and saw how it went on forever, it was one of the most intimidating things I was about to do in my life. And today, it still makes the top 10 of most intimidating things I’ve ever faced before doing it in my life.”