Laguna Seca

Coordinates: 36°35′03″N 121°45′13″W / 36.58417°N 121.75361°W / 36.58417; -121.75361
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

LocationMonterey County, near Monterey, California and Salinas, California, United States
Time zoneUTC-8 (UTC-7 DST)
Coordinates36°35′03″N 121°45′13″W / 36.58417°N 121.75361°W / 36.58417; -121.75361
FIA Grade2
OwnerMonterey County
OperatorA&D Narigi Consulting, LLC
Opened9 November 1957; 66 years ago (1957-11-09)[1]
Construction cost$1.5 million USD
Former namesLaguna Seca Raceway (1957-2001)
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (2002–2017)
Major eventsCurrent:
Former:
Websitehttps://www.weathertechraceway.com/
Grand Prix Circuit (1996–present)
SurfacePaved
Length2.238 miles (3.602 km)
Turns11
Race lap record1:08.4168 (Spain Álex Palou, Dallara DW12, 2023, IndyCar)
Grand Prix Circuit (1988–1995)
Length2.214 miles (3.563 km)
Turns11
Race lap record1:12.959 (Canada Paul Tracy, Penske PC-23, 1994, CART)
Original Circuit (1957–1987)
Length1.900 miles (3.058 km)
Turns9
Race lap record0:52.926 (United States Mario Andretti, Lola T87/00, 1987, CART)

Laguna Seca Raceway (branded as WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and previously Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for sponsorship reasons) 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, United States.

The racetrack is 2.238 mi (3.602 km) long, with a 180 ft (55 m) elevation change.[2][3] Its eleven turns are highlighted by the circuit's signature turn, the downhill-plunging "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. Laguna Seca is classified as an FIA Grade Two circuit.[4]

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 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.[5]

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.

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, CART, Indy 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/Moto3 and 250/Moto2 are not admitted).

The day-to-day operations of the track, along with the management and promotion of major racing events, are now handled by A&D Narigi Consulting, LLC. John V. Narigi is the General Manager and President. Until January 1, 2020, it was managed by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), which is 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, with gradient up to 16%
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,[6][7] due to the 59 ft (18 m) drop in elevation as well as its blind crest and apex on the uphill approach.[6][7][8]

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. On the last lap of the 1996 CART race, Alex Zanardi passed Bryan Herta on the inside of the Corkscrew 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.[9] But the subsequent merger of Champ Car and IndyCar resulted in the race being canceled. On July 17, 2018, IndyCar announced a return of IndyCars to Laguna Seca, with the event to be held the weekend of Sept. 20–22, 2019.

The track is also the site of the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, formerly known as the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. The event features 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 WeatherTech which began in April 2018. As part of the sponsorship, the track is now officially referred to as WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Previously, the sponsorship belonged to Mazda for 17 years with the track being known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

A 2015 study by California State University, Monterey Bay and commissioned by SCRAMP states that the raceway generated $62.1 million (2015 USD) to the Monterey County economy and $5.2 million in state and local taxes.[10]

Layout history[edit]

Lap records[edit]

On August 20, 2006, Toyota F1 test driver Ricardo Zonta set an unofficial lap record of 1:06.309.[11] The previous record time was 1:07.722, set by Hélio 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.[12]

Christian Lundgaard is the unofficial qualifying record-holder with a lap time of 1:06.4610.[13]

At the 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championships, David Brabham set a pole position time of 1:10.103 in a Le Mans Prototype.[14]

At the 2012 United States motorcycle Grand Prix, Jorge Lorenzo set a pole time of 1:20.554 on the Yamaha YZR-M1.[15] During the 2014 Superbike World Championship season, Tom Sykes set the superbike qualifying record time of 1:21.811 on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.[16]

The 2019 McLaren Senna holds the current production car lap record. Driver Randy Pobst piloted the unmodified McLaren to a 1:27.62 lap time during MotorTrend's 2019 best driver car award testing.[17]

The 2016 Porsche 911 GT2 RS previously held the current unofficial production car lap record with 1:28.30.[18]

The Porsche 918 Spyder held the previous unofficial production car lap record with 1:29.89.[19]

A Mission Motors Mission R, ridden by Steve Rapp, previously held the outright EV lap record with a time of 1:31.376. This was set during qualifying for the 2011 FIM e-Power International Championship/TTXGP World Series race.[20]

In 2018, Earl Bamber clocked an unofficial best lap time of 1:07 around Laguna Seca in the Porsche 919 EVO, despite not intentionally trying to set a lap record.[21]

A McLaren MP4/13, driven by Pato O'Ward set an unofficial lap time of 1:10.24 at the 2021 Velocity Invitational festival.

All-time unofficial lap records[edit]

Type Event Driver Vehicle Time Date
Outright lap record 2012 Ferrari Racing Days Spain Marc Gené Ferrari F2003-GA 1:05.786[12] 7 March 2012
All-time qualifying lap record 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Denmark Christian Lundgaard Dallara DW12 1:06.4610[13] 9 September 2023
Motorcycle qualifying lap record 2012 United States motorcycle Grand Prix Spain Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha YZR-M1 1:20.554[15] 28 July 2012
Production car Private event United States Joel Miller Czinger 21C 1:25:44 [22] 21 July 2021
Electric car testing lap record Private event United States Randy Pobst Unplugged Performance Tesla Model S Plaid 1:28.213[23] 1 August 2021
Electric motorcycle qualifying lap record 2011 Laguna Seca TTXGP round United States Steve Rapp Mission Motors Mission R 1:31.376[24] 23 July 2011

Official race lap records[edit]

As of October 2023, the fastest official race lap records at Laguna Seca for different classes are listed as:

Category Time Driver Vehicle Date
Current Grand Prix Circuit: 3.602 km (1996–present)
IndyCar 1:08.4168 Álex Palou Dallara DW12 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
CART 1:10.148[25] Alex Zanardi Reynard 96I 1996 Bank of America 300 Monterey Grand Prix
LMP2 1:11.156[26] Adrián Fernández Acura ARX-01B 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championships
LMP1 1:12.126[26] Lucas Luhr Audi R10 TDI 2008 Monterey Sports Car Championships
Indy NXT 1:12.7677[27] Christian Rasmussen Dallara IL-15 2023 Laguna Seca Indy NXT round
DPi 1:15.546[28] Tom Blomqvist Acura ARX-05 2022 Hyundai Monterey SportsCar Championship
LMP900 1:16.280[29] Allan McNish Audi R8 2000 Monterey Sports Car Championships
LMDh 1:16.421[30] Pipo Derani Cadillac V-Series.R 2023 Motul Course de Monterey
Formula Atlantic 1:16.499[31] Jonathan Summerton Swift 016.a 2009 Monterey Sports Car Championships
DP 1:16.914[32] Colin Braun Oreca 07 2018 Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship
A1GP 1:17.951 Nicolas Lapierre Lola A1GP 2005–06 A1 Grand Prix of Nations, United States of America
LMP 1:18.129[33] Eric Bernard Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S 1999 Monterey Sports Car Championships
LMP675 1:18.185[34] James Weaver Lola EX257 2003 Monterey Sports Car Championships
WSC 1:19.060[35] Andrea Montermini Ferrari 333 SP 1997 Visa Sports Car Championship
GT1 (Prototype) 1:19.094[36] Ricardo Zonta Mercedes-Benz CLK LM 1998 FIA GT Laguna Seca 500km
LMPC 1:19.298[37] Bruno Junqueira Oreca FLM09 2012 American Le Mans Monterey
GT1 (GTS) 1:19.604[38] Jan Magnussen Chevrolet Corvette C6.R 2007 Monterey Sports Car Championships
Indy Pro 2000 1:21.1769[39] Sting Ray Robb Tatuus PM-18 2019 Laguna Seca Indy Pro 2000 round
MotoGP 1:21.229 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2012 United States motorcycle Grand Prix
LM GTE 1:21.827[40] Nick Tandy Chevrolet Corvette C8.R 2021 Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship
World SBK 1:22.700[41] Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR 2019 Laguna Seca World SBK round
Superbike 1:23.185[42] Cameron Beaubier Yamaha YZF-R1 2020 Laguna Seca MotoAmerica round
GT2 1:23.793[43] Ron Fellows Chevrolet Corvette C5-R 1999 Monterey Sports Car Championships
Superkart 1:23.875[44] Eddie Lawson 250cc Yamaha superkart 2003 World Superkart Challenge at Laguna Seca[45][46][47][48][49]
Porsche Carrera Cup 1:23.879[50] Alex Sedgwick Porsche 911 (992) GT3 Cup 2023 Laguna Seca Porsche Carrera Cup North America round
GT3 1:24.479[28] Daniel Juncadella Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 2022 Hyundai Monterey SportsCar Championship
Lamborghini Super Trofeo 1:24.904[51] Trent Hindman Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo 2017 Laguna Seca Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America round
US F2000 1:25.4774[52] Christian Rasmussen Tatuus USF-17 2019 Laguna Seca US F2000 round
GT 1:25.586[53] Timo Bernhard Porsche 911 (996) GT3 RSR 2004 Monterey Sports Car Championships
TA1 1:25.874[54] Chris Dyson Ford Mustang 2022 Laguna Seca Trans-Am round
Supersport 1:26.010[55] Garrett Gerloff Yamaha YZF-R6 2017 Laguna Seca MotoAmerica round
IMSA GTP 1:26.610[56] Bruce Canepa Porsche 962C 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
F5000 1:27.352[57] Paul Zazryn Lola T332 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Ferrari Challenge 1:27.531[58] Cooper MacNeil Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo 2020 Laguna Seca Ferrari Challenge North America round
Formula BMW 1:27.668[59] Alexander Rossi Mygale FB02 2008 Laguna Seca Formula BMW Americas round
TA2 1:30.107[60] Rafa Matos Ford Mustang 2021 Laguna Seca Trans-Am round
IMSA GTO 1:30.662[56] Jeremy Barnes Mazda RX-7 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
World SSP 1:30.742 Pere Riba Cabana [es] Ducati 748 1998 Laguna Seca World SSP round
GT4 1:30.912[61] Spencer Pumpelly Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport 2022 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120
Group 5 sports car 1:31.301[56] Bob Earl Ferrari 312 PB 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Super Touring 1:31.619[62] Neil Crompton Honda Accord 1997 Laguna Seca NATCC round
eRoad Racing 1:32.581[63] Shane Turpin Brammo Empulse RR 2013 Laguna Seca FIM eRoad Racing World Cup round
TCR Touring Car 1:33.159[64] Mike LaMarra Honda Civic Type R TCR (FK8) 2023 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120
Group 6 prototype 1:35.044[56] Nick Colyvas Chevron B16 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Mazda MX-5 Cup 1:38.252[65] Aaron Jeansonne Mazda MX-5 (ND) 2023 Laguna Seca Mazda MX-5 Cup round
Formula Junior 1:40.511[66] Jeremy Barnes Lotus 22 2010 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Group 3 GT (over 2500cc) 1:41.645[56] Chris MacAllister Shelby Cobra 289 MkII 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Historic GT (under 2500cc) 1:43.077[56] Fred Della Noce Ginetta G12 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Group 2 touring car 1:44.824[57] Mark Colbert BMW 3.0 CSL 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Historic Group 4 sports car
(under 2000cc)
1:45.737[57] Brian Orosco Lola Mk1 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Historic sports car 1:51.374[57] Cameron Healy Cooper Mk7-7/53-Porsche[67] 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Historic GP 2:00.507[57] Paddins Dowling Maserati 4CL 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Grand Prix Circuit: 3.563 km (1988–1995)
CART 1:12.959[68] Paul Tracy Penske PC-23 1994 Toyota Monterey Grand Prix
IMSA GTP 1:14.102[69] Juan Manuel Fangio II Eagle MkIII 1992 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
Indy Lights 1:18.130[70] Greg Moore Lola T93/20 1995 Laguna Seca Indy Lights round
IMSA GTP Lights 1:22.976[69] Ruggero Melgrati [pl] Spice SE91P 1992 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
WSC 1:23.017[71] Fermín Vélez Ferrari 333 SP 1994 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
IMSA GTS 1:24.274[72] Scott Pruett Oldsmobile Cutlass 1993 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
500cc 1:25.838 Kevin Schwantz Suzuki RGV500 1990 United States motorcycle Grand Prix
250cc 1:27.959 Loris Capirossi Honda NSR250 1993 United States motorcycle Grand Prix
IMSA GTO 1:30.892[72] Charles Morgan Oldsmobile Cutlass 1993 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
IMSA GTU 1:31.244[73] Jeremy Dale Dodge Daytona 1989 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
125cc 1:32.971 Kazuto Sakata Honda RS125R 1993 United States motorcycle Grand Prix
IMSA Supercar 1:39.248[74] Martin Snow Porsche 911 (993) Turbo 1995 Toyota Grand Prix of Monterey
Original Grand Prix Circuit: 3.058 km (1957–1987)
CART 0:52.926[68] Mario Andretti Lola T87/00 1987 Monterey Grand Prix
Can-Am 0:56.810[75] Al Unser Jr. Frissbee GR3 1982 Laguna Seca Can-Am round
F5000 0:58.230[76] Mario Andretti Lola T332 1975 Monterey Grand Prix
IMSA GTP 0:58.874[77] Al Holbert Porsche 962 1986 Monterey Triple Crown Camel Grand Prix
Group 7 0:59.710[78] Mark Donohue Porsche 917/30 TC 1973 Monterey Castrol Grand Prix
Indy Lights 0:59.844[79] David Simpson Wildcat-Buick 1987 Laguna Seca Indy Lights round
IMSA GTX 1:03.020[80] Brian Redman Lola T600 1981 Datsun Monterey Triple Crown
IMSA GTO 1:04.693[81] Scott Pruett Ford Mustang 1986 Monterey Triple Crown Camel Grand Prix
Trans-Am (TO) 1:04.990[82] Greg Pickett Chevrolet Corvette 427 1978 Shasta Monterey Grand Prix Trans-Am
IMSA GTP Lights 1:05.061[83] Don Bell Spice SE87L Pontiac Fiero GTP 1987 Nissan Monterey Triple Crown
Group 5 1:06.004[84] David Hobbs BMW 320i 1977 Laguna Seca IMSA GT round
Group 4 1:07.400[85] Walt Hansgen Lola T70 1965 Monterey Grand Prix Laguna Seca 200 miles
F750 1:08.250[86] Kenny Roberts Yamaha TZ750 1979 Laguna Seca Formula 750 round
IMSA GTU 1:09.130[87] Roberto Moreno Toyota Celica 1983 Monterey Triple Crown
Trans-Am (TU) 1:19.880[88] Bobby Allison Datsun 510 1972 Monterey Castrol GTX Grand Prix

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.[89]

The track is featured in video games such as the Gran Turismo series (since the second installment, including the bike version Tourist Trophy), the Forza Motorsport series, 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 4 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, he managed a best time of only 1:57 on the real course.[90] 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.

It was also used in 1976 for the film Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo as a qualifying track.

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". The event has now become the largest cycling festival in the United States, bringing in over 10,000 racers and over 100,000 spectators – and is now the first major event of the year, typically held in April – for both the road bike and mountain bike professional seasons.

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

Laguna Seca served as the finish line for Stage 4 of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California and Stage 3 of the 2018 Amgen Tour of California bicycle races.

The raceway has been occasionally as a venue for concerts and other non-sporting events. The Grateful Dead performed on the racetrack in May 1987; later that night, the band filmed their music video for "Touch of Grey" there.[91][92]

On September 17, 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at Laguna Seca Raceway, where 72,000 people had gathered to see him.[93]

In the 1990s, the raceway was the venue for the Laguna Seca Daze music festival, which featured performances from music acts in the folk, alternative rock and jam band genres. Artists who performed at the festival include Bob Dylan, Phish, Blues Traveler, 10,000 Maniacs, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Meat Puppets, 4 Non Blondes, Jeff Healey, The Allman Brothers Band, Gin Blossoms and Shawn Colvin.[94][95][96][97]

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.[98]

In spring 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduation ceremonies took place at the raceway. Local schools participating included Carmel High School[99] (June 3, 2020) and Pacific Grove High School[100] (May 29, 2020). After collecting diplomas, graduates and their families were able to drive around the track in celebration.

Events[edit]

Current events[edit]

Former events[edit]

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.[101][102] 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.[citation needed]

Fatalities[edit]

References[edit]

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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]