Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Laguna Seca
LagunaSecaLogo.jpg

Laguna Seca.svg
Location Monterey County, near Monterey, California, USA
Time zone UTC-8 (UTC-7 DST)
Coordinates 36°35′03″N 121°45′13″W / 36.58417°N 121.75361°W / 36.58417; -121.75361Coordinates: 36°35′03″N 121°45′13″W / 36.58417°N 121.75361°W / 36.58417; -121.75361
Owner Monterey County Parks Department
Operator Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula
Opened 1957
Construction cost $1.5 million USD
Major events United States motorcycle Grand Prix
CART
American Le Mans Series
Monterey Historic Automobile Races
Surface Paved
Length 2.238 mi (3.602 km)
Turns 11
Lap record 1'05.786 (Marc Gené, Scuderia Ferrari, Ferrari F2003-GA, 2012, Formula 1)

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (previously known as Laguna Seca Raceway) is a paved road racing track in central California used for both auto racing and motorcycle racing, built in 1957 near both Salinas and Monterey, California, USA.

The racetrack is 2.238 miles (3.602 km) long, with a 180 feet (55 m) elevation change.[1][2] Its eleven turns include Laguna Seca's famous "Corkscrew" at Turns 8 and 8A. A variety of racing, exhibition, and entertainment events are held at the raceway, ranging from superkarts to sports car racing to music festivals.

The name Laguna Seca is Spanish for "dry lake": the area where the track now lies was once a lake, and the course was built around the dry lake bed. After the course was reconfigured, two artificial ponds were added.

History[edit]

Laguna Seca Raceway from between Turns 1 and 2
Mario Andretti at Laguna Seca, 1991
The original layout

The earliest development of the local area occurred in 1867 with the founding of the nearby Laguna Seca Ranch, which has operated continuously for 140 years with grazing and equestrian uses.[3]

The track was built in 1957 at a cost of $1.5 million raised from local businesses and individuals on part of the US Army's Fort Ord (a maneuver area and field artillery target range) after the nearby Pebble Beach Road Races were abandoned for being too dangerous. In 1974, the property was deeded over to the Monterey County Parks Department and continues to be part of the park system to this day.

The first race, held on November 9, 1957, was won by Pete Lovely driving a Ferrari. In the intervening years, the track has hosted USRRC, Can-Am, Trans-Am, Formula 5000, IMSA GT, Champ Car, American Le Mans Series, Grand American, Monterey Historic Automobile Races, Speed World Challenge, AMA (American Motorcyclist Association), WSBK Superbike World Championship and MotoGP motorcycle races (but 125 and 250 are not admitted).

The day-to-day operations of the track, along with the management and promotion of major racing events, are handled by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), a non-profit organization. With oversight by a board of local residents, SCRAMP operates with a professional staff on-site with the goal of generating income through the operations of the racetrack which is then redistributed to local charities.

The track itself has undergone significant changes over the past two decades to meet evolving safety homologation requirements of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and other sanctioning bodies. Changes include the addition of the entire infield area in 1988 (present day turns 3, 4, and 5, eliminating the straight that started at present day turn 2 and ended at present day turn 5) extending the track from its original 1.9-mile (3.1 km) length to meet the minimum-track-length criteria of the FIM for MotoGP events, plus the more recent relocation of pedestrian bridges and embankments, and the expansion of gravel pits outside turns 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 for additional runoff. The original media center was demolished in 2006 to make way for additional run-off room in Turn 1. Also in 2006, the 'hump' at the top of the Rahal Straight was flattened to accommodate the MotoGP riders, though some claim that this increases the wind effects that can perturb a race motorcycle. Remnants of the old configuration can still be seen from the parking lot between turns two and five. They are found underneath a road leading to the parking area for entrant trailers and RVs.

The "Corkscrew" at Turn 8
A view of the "Corkscrew" from the bottom

The famous Turn 8 and 8A combination, popularly referred to as the Corkscrew, is considered one of the motorsport world's most challenging turns,[citation needed] due to the drop in elevation as well as its blind crest and apex on the uphill approach.[4]

Turn 2, with its difficult and technical double-apex, has been renamed the 'Andretti Hairpin', in honor of former Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti, while Turn 9 has been renamed 'Rainey Curve' in honor of 500cc Grand Prix motorcycle racing World Champion Wayne Rainey, a resident of nearby Salinas, California. Also the straight that runs between Turn 6 and Turn 7 has been renamed the 'Rahal Straight' after four-time consecutive Champ Car race winner Bobby Rahal.

A Champ Car World Series weekend had been a prominent event from 1983 through 2004, when its spot on the calendar was shifted to the San Jose Grand Prix. Perhaps one of the most famous moments of racing took place at Laguna Seca's Corkscrew when Alex Zanardi passed Bryan Herta on the inside of the Corkscrew on the last lap of the 1996 CART race to take the victory. Uruguayan driver Gonzalo Rodríguez died during the practice session of the 1999 CART race after crashing at the same corner. Because of the incident, runoff was installed at the end of the Rahal Straight. Champ Car announced on September 11, 2007 that they would be returning the Northern California race to Laguna Seca from San Jose over the May 16–18 weekend in 2008.[5] But the subsequent merger of Champ Car and IndyCar resulted in the race being canceled.

The track is also the site of the annual Monterey Historics event sponsored every August by Rolex that sees an extraordinarily eclectic mixture of race cars on the course. Each year features a different marque. Considered one of the two greatest historic racing events (along with the Goodwood Festival in England), attendance often rivals, or surpasses the professional racing events listed above.

There are many permanent dry and hook-up camping facilities located at the raceway, which are available year-round as part of the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, the county park in which the racetrack is set.

The track's primary corporate sponsor is Mazda, who hold some of their own events there and display their products at major racing events. As part of the sponsorship, the track is now officially referred to as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Racing[edit]

Major events each year include the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring a six-hour endurance race for the ALMS, Monterey Historics for classic racecars, and the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix featuring both the MotoGP World Championship and the U.S. AMA Superbike Series. In 2006, the A1 Grand Prix brought international open-wheel racing back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Formula One[edit]

In 1989, the year following the last Formula One race in Detroit, choices for a new location for the United States Grand Prix came down to Laguna Seca and Phoenix. The aforementioned 1988 improvements to the track were made in part to lure the F1 race. In the final decision, Laguna Seca was thought to be too remote and too small for an F1 crowd, and so Phoenix was granted the Grand Prix.

Lap records[edit]

On August 20, 2006, Toyota F1 test driver Ricardo Zonta set an unofficial lap record of 1'06.039.[6] The previous record time was 1'07.722, set by Helio Castroneves in a Penske Champ Car during qualifying for the 2000 CART Honda Grand Prix of Monterey. The unofficial record was re-taken by a Champ Car on March 10, 2007 by Sébastien Bourdais, who lapped in 1'05.880 during Champ Car Spring Training. The unofficial record was again re-taken by a Formula One car on May 19, 2012 by Marc Gené, who lapped in 1'05.786 in a Ferrari F2003-GA during the 2012 Ferrari Racing Days.[7]

Officially, Castroneves is still the recordholder as the times of Zonta, Bourdais and Gené were set during exhibition and testing sessions, and official records can only be set in race conditions (either in practice, qualifying, or during a race).

At the 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championships, David Brabham set a pole position time of 1:10.103 in a Le Mans Prototype.[8]

The fastest lap at the 2006 A1GP race was 1:17.951, set by Nicolas Lapierre.

At the 2012 United States motorcycle Grand Prix, Jorge Lorenzo set a pole time of 1:20.554 on the Yamaha. During the 2001 Superbike World Championship season, Ben Bostrom set a time of 1:25.704 on the Ducati.[9]

The Dodge Viper TA holds the production car lap record with 1:33.62.[10]

Other use[edit]

Automotive[edit]

When not being used by the major events the track can be rented. Approximately twice a year the Sports Car Club of America holds regional club races for the San Francisco Region. Various clubs rent the track throughout the year for informal high performance driving schools that allow the public to drive their own cars at speed. The raceway has also played host to prototype testing of the Nissan GT-R in 2007.[11]

The track is featured in video games such as the Gran Turismo series (including the bike version Tourist Trophy), Forza Motorsport, and the MotoGP series. In a bid to compare real life versus video games, Jeremy Clarkson of the British automotive show Top Gear attempted to beat his Gran Turismo time of 1:41.148 in a Honda NSX by racing the real track in the same car in 2005. During the trials, Clarkson determined that the game omitted a few details of the track, and the game's physics allowed him to brake later when coming into turns than he could in real life. As a consequence, reality prevailed and he managed a best time of only 1:57 on the real course.[12] However, both he and the track instructor agreed that it is possible to complete the course in 1:41 in a Honda NSX if the driver were sufficiently experienced, talented, and most importantly fearless.

Laguna Seca is home to a branch of the Skip Barber Racing School, which conducts race and street driver training in the paddock area and on the circuit itself on a year-round basis.[13]

Other non-automotive events[edit]

Laguna Seca and the part of the old Fort Ord that is now Bureau of Land Management land annually host the Sea Otter Classic "Celebration of Cycling". As the first major event of the year – typically held in April – it kicks off both the road bike and mountain bike seasons.

Several times each year, bicycles are permitted on the track for 2 hours. The admission fee is $10 per bicycle rider.

On September 17, 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at Laguna Seca Raceway, where 72,000 people had gathered to see him.[14]

On June 24, 2011, John Mueller of Muellerized Suspension Systems married Sheila Stone on the top of the corkscrew at Laguna Seca. This is the location where the ashes of Lee Mueller (4 time SCCA National Champion, IMSA GTU Champion, 3 time winner of the 24 hours of Daytona, and 12 hours of Sebring winner), John Mueller's father, were spread.[15]

Races[edit]

Major events[edit]

Other events[edit]

A1 Grand Prix[edit]

Season Sprint Race Winner Feature Race Winner
2005–2006 Mexico Salvador Durán Mexico Salvador Durán

MotoGP[edit]

Year Races Winners Team Bike
2005 United States Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda RC 211V
2006 United States Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda RC 211V
2007 Australia Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP7
2008 Italy Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1
2009 Spain Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda RC 212V
2010 Spain Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1
2011 Australia Casey Stoner Repsol Honda RC 212V
2012 Australia Casey Stoner Repsol Honda RC 213V
2013 Spain Marc Marquez Repsol Honda RC 213V

Superbike World Championship[edit]

Year Races Winners Team Bike
1995 Australia Anthony Gobert
Australia Troy Corser
Muzzy Kawasaki
Promotor Ducati Corse
Kawasaki ZX-7R
Ducati 916
1996 United States John Kocinski
Australia Anthony Gobert
Ducati Corse
Muzzy Kawasaki
Ducati 916
Kawasaki ZX-7R
1997 United States John Kocinski
United States John Kocinski
Castrol Honda-HRC
Castrol Honda-HRC
Honda RC45
Honda RC45
1998 Australia Troy Corser
Japan Noriyuki Haga
Ducati Corse
Yamaha World Superbike Team
Ducati 916
Yamaha YZF750
1999 Australia Anthony Gobert
United States Ben Bostrom
Vance & Hines Ducati
Vance & Hines Ducati
Ducati 996
Ducati 996
2000 Japan Noriyuki Haga
Australia Troy Corser
Yamaha World Superbike Team
Aprilia
Yamaha YZF-R7
Aprilia RSV1000
2001 United States Ben Bostrom
United States Ben Bostrom
L&M Ducati
L&M Ducati
Ducati 996
Ducati 996
2002 Australia Troy Bayliss
United States Colin Edwards
Infostrada Ducati Corse
Castrol Honda-HRC
Ducati 998
Honda RC51
2003 Italy Pierfrancesco Chili
Spain Rubén Xaus
PSG-1 Ducati
FILA Ducati Corse
Ducati 998
Ducati 998
2004 Australia Chris Vermeulen
Australia Chris Vermeulen
ten Kate Honda
ten Kate Honda
Honda CBR1000RR
Honda CBR1000RR
2005 - 2012, Event not held at Laguna Seca
2013 United Kingdom Tom Sykes
Republic of Ireland Eugene Laverty
Kawasaki Racing Team
Aprilia Racing Team
Kawasaki ZX-10R
Aprilia RSV4

AMA Grand National Roadrace[edit]

Season Winner Team/Entrant Bike
1972 United States Calvin Rayborn II Harley-Davidson Motor Co Harley-Davidson
1973 United States Gary Nixon Erv Kanemoto/Kawasaki Kawasaki Heavy Industries
1974 United States Kenny Roberts Yamaha Factory Team Yamaha
1975 United States Kenny Roberts Yamaha Factory Team Yamaha
1976 United States Steve Baker Yamaha Factory Team Yamaha

AMA Superbike[edit]

Season Winner Team/Entrant Bike
1976 United Kingdom Reg Pridmore Butler & Smith BMW BMW
1977 United States Steve McLaughlin Yoshimura Suzuki
1978 United States Wes Cooley Yoshimura Suzuki
1979 United States Freddie Spencer Kawasaki Factory Kawasaki
1980 United States Freddie Spencer American Honda Honda
1981 United States Eddie Lawson Team Muzzy Kawasaki
1982 United States Eddie Lawson Team Muzzy Kawasaki
1983 United States Wayne Rainey Team Muzzy Kawasaki
1984 United States Fred Merkel American Honda Honda
1985 United States John Ashmead Ashmead / Gary Meadley Honda
1986 United States Wayne Rainey American Honda Honda
1987 United States Bubba Shobert American Honda Honda
1988 United States Bubba Shobert Shobert/Honda Honda
1989–1991: No race
1992 United States Doug Polen Fast by Ferracci Ducati
1993 United States Doug Polen Fast by Ferracci Ducati
1994 Canada Pascal Picotte Fast by Ferracci Ducati
1995 United States Freddie Spencer Fast by Ferracci Ducati
1996 United States Doug Chandler Team Muzzy Kawasaki
1997 United States Doug Chandler Team Muzzy Kawasaki
1998 Canada Miguel Duhamel Erion Racing Honda
1999 Australia Anthony Gobert Vance & Hines Ducati
2000 United States Nicky Hayden American Honda Honda
2001 United States Eric Bostrom Kawasaki Factory Kawasaki
2002 United States Eric Bostrom Kawasaki Factory Kawasaki
2003 Australia Mat Mladin Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2004 United States Ben Bostrom Parts Unlimited American Honda Honda
2005 United States Eric Bostrom Parts Unlimited MotoAustin Ducati
2006 United States Ben Spies Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2007
July
United States Ben Spies Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2007
Sept
United States Ben Spies Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2008
July
Australia Mat Mladin Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2008
Sept
Australia Mat Mladin Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2009 United States Aaron Yates Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki
2010 United States Ben Bostrom Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha
2011 United States Tommy Hayden Yoshimura Racing Suzuki
2012 United States Josh Hayes Graves Motorsports Yamaha
2013
July
United States Josh Hayes Graves Motorsports Yamaha
2013
Sept
United States Josh Hayes Graves Motorsports Yamaha

Rolex Sports Car Series[edit]

Season Winning Drivers Car Team Event Name Duration
2005 Mexico Luis Díaz / United States Scott Pruett Riley Mk XI-Lexus Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Road & Track 250 250 miles
2006 Italy Max Angelelli / Denmark Jan Magnussen / South Africa Wayne Taylor Riley Mk XI-Pontiac SunTrust Racing U.S. Sportscar Invitational
2007 United States Patrick Long / Germany Jörg Bergmeister Crawford DP03-Porsche Alex Job Racing U.S. Sportscar Invitational 2:30
2008 United Kingdom Ryan Dalziel / United States Henri Zogaib Riley Mk XI-BMW SAMAX Motorsport RumBum.com 250 250 miles
2009 United States Jon Fogarty / United States Alex Gurney Riley Mk XI-Pontiac GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Verizon Festival of Speed 250 miles
2010 Event not held
2011 United States Jon Fogarty / United States Alex Gurney Riley Mk XI-Chevrolet GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Continental Tire Sports Car Festival 2:45
2012 United Kingdom Richard Westbrook / Spain Antonio Garcia Coyote-Porsche Spirit of Daytona Racing Continental Tire Sports Car Festival 2:45
2013 Italy Max Angelelli / United States Jordan Taylor Dallara-Corvette Wayne Taylor Racing Continental Tire Sports Car Festival 2:45

Trans-Am[edit]

Year Class Driver Car
1969 Over 2000cc
Under 2000cc
United States Mark Donohue
United States Peter Gregg
Chevrolet Camaro
Porsche 911
1970 Over 2000cc
Under 2000cc
United States Parnelli Jones
United States Lee Midgley
Ford Mustang
Alfa Romeo GTA
1971 Event not held
1972 Under 2500cc United States John Morton Datsun 510
1973–1977 Event not held
1978 Category I
Category II
United States Bob Tullius
United States Greg Pickett
Jaguar XJS
Chevrolet Corvette
1979 Category I
Category II
United States Bob Tullius
United States Peter Gregg
Triumph TR8
Porsche
1980 United States Greg Pickett Chevrolet Corvette
1981 United States George Follmer Chevrolet Camaro
1982 United States Elliott Forbes-Robinson Pontiac Trans Am
1983–1999 Event not held
2000 Canada Kenny Wilden Chevrolet Camaro
2001 United Kingdom Justin Bell Chevrolet Corvette
2002–2003 Event not held
2004 United States Tommy Kendall Jaguar XKR

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

"Laguna Seca Raceway: 40 Years Through the Corkscrew: 1957-1997" (David and Mary-Ellen Wright-Rana, 1997) — ISBN 0966024818

External links[edit]