- Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Laguna Seca
Location Monterey County, near Monterey, California, USA Time zone UTC-8 (UTC-7 DST) 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
American Le Mans Series
Monterey Historic Automobile Races
Surface Paved Length 2.238 mi (3.602 km) Turns 11 Lap record 1'06.309 (Ricardo Zonta, Toyota Racing, Toyota TF106, 2006, Formula 1)
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (previously known as Laguna Seca Raceway) is a paved road racing track used for both auto racing and motorcycle racing, originally constructed in 1957 near both Salinas and Monterey, California, USA.
The current racetrack is 2.238 miles (3.602 km) in length with a 300 foot (91 m) elevation change. It has eleven turns, including the famous "Corkscrew" at Turns 8 and 8A. A variety of racing, exhibition and entertainment events are held at the raceway, ranging from superkarts to American Le Mans racing to music festivals.
The name Laguna Seca is Spanish for "dry lake". The area where the track is was originally a lake. The course was originally built around the lake, which has since dried up entirely. An artificial pond has since been added.
- 1 History
- 2 Racing
- 3 Other use
- 4 Races
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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.
The famous Turn 8 and 8A combination, popularly referred to as the Corkscrew, is considered one of the motorsport world's most challenging turns, due to the drop in elevation as well as its blind crest and apex on the uphill approach.
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. 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. But the subsequent merger of Champ Car and IndyCar resulted in the race being canceled. A major runoff area has since been added to that area.
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.
The official track record for the 2.238-mile (3.602 km) course is 1 minute, 07.722 seconds, set in 2000 by Hélio Castroneves while qualifying his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard for the CART/FedEx Championship Series Honda Grand Prix of Monterey.
The all-time unofficial lap record around the current configuration is 1 minute, 5.880 seconds, set on March 10, 2007 by Sébastien Bourdais in a Panoz DP01 Champ Car, beating the previous unofficial record of 1 minute, 6.309 seconds, set by Ricardo Zonta in a Toyota TF106 Formula 1 car during the Historics on August 20, 2006.
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 four-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.
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. It proved to be highly unsuccessful and lasted only three years.
On August 20, 2006, Toyota F1 test driver Ricardo Zonta set an unofficial lap record of 1'06.039. 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.
Officially, Castroneves is still the recordholder as Zonta's and Bourdais' times 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).
Motor Trend has recently begun to use Laguna Seca as a benchmark in much the same way Car and Driver had used Virginia International Raceway in recent years. The track was the site of their "America's Best Handling Car" and "Best Driver's Car" comparisons. In total, over 30 street legal cars have set laps on the track in the hands of Motor Trend. The 2010 Dodge Viper ACR is the current leader.
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.
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. 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 and talented.
Other non-automotive events
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.
Laguna Seca has proven popular in computer games in simulations, with over twenty popular packages containing interpretations at the venue.
On June 24th, 2011, John Mueller of Muellerized Suspension Systems married Sheila Stone on the top of the corkscrew at Laguna Seca. This is the same place that John Mueller's father, 4 time SCCA National Champion, IMSA GTU Champion, 3 time winner of the 24 hours of Daytona, and 12 hours of Sebring winner, Lee Mueller's ashes were spread.
- Monterey Sports Car Championships; 1957–present; SCCA Nationals, USRRC, IMSA, American Le Mans Series
- United States motorcycle Grand Prix; 1988–1991, 1993–1994, 2005–present; MotoGP
- Monterey Grand Prix; 1960–2004; USAC Road Racing Championship, Can-Am, Formula 5000, IMSA, CART
- Marlboro Challenge; 1989, 1991; CART
A1 Grand Prix
Season Sprint Race Winner Feature Race Winner 2005–2006 Salvador Durán Salvador Durán
Superbike World Championship
Year Races Winners Team Bike 1995 Anthony Gobert
Promotor Ducati Corse
1996 John Kocinski
1997 John Kocinski
1998 Troy Corser
Yamaha World Superbike Team
1999 Anthony Gobert
Vance & Hines Ducati
Vance & Hines Ducati
2000 Noriyuki Haga
Yamaha World Superbike Team
2001 Ben Bostrom
2002 Troy Bayliss
Infostrada Ducati Corse
2003 Pierfrancesco Chili
FILA Ducati Corse
2004 Chris Vermeulen
ten Kate Honda
ten Kate Honda
AMA Grand National Roadrace
Season Winner Team/Entrant Bike 1972 Thomas Herman Harley-Davidson Motor Co Harley-Davidson 1973 Gary Nixon Erv Kanemoto/Kawasaki Kawasaki Heavy Industries 1974 Kenny Roberts Yamaha Factory Team Yamaha 1975 Kenny Roberts Yamaha Factory Team Yamaha 1976 Steve Baker Yamaha Factory Team Yamaha
Rolex Sports Car Series
Season Winning Drivers Car Team 2005 Luis Díaz / Scott Pruett Riley Mk XI-Lexus Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates 2006 Max Angelelli / Jan Magnussen / Wayne Taylor Riley Mk XI-Pontiac SunTrust Racing 2007 Patrick Long / Jörg Bergmeister Crawford DP03-Porsche Alex Job Racing 2008 Ryan Dalziel / Henri Zogaib Riley Mk XI-BMW SAMAX Motorsport 2009 Jon Fogarty / Alex Gurney Riley Mk XI-Pontiac GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing 2010 Event not held 2011 Jon Fogarty / Alex Gurney Riley Mk XI-Chevrolet GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing
Year Class Driver Car 1969 Over 2000cc
1970 Over 2000cc
Alfa Romeo GTA
1971 Event not held 1972 Under 2500cc John Morton Datsun 510 1973–1977 Event not held 1978 Category I
1979 Category I
1980 Greg Pickett Chevrolet Corvette 1981 George Follmer Chevrolet Camaro 1982 Elliott Forbes-Robinson Pontiac Trans Am 1983–1999 Event not held 2000 Kenny Wilden Chevrolet Camaro 2001 Justin Bell Chevrolet Corvette 2002–2003 Event not held 2004 Tommy Kendall Jaguar XKR
- ^ Environmental Site Assessment: Laguna Seca Ranch, Earth Metrics Inc., on file with the County of Monterey (1989)
- ^ Google Street View image
- ^ Champ Car > News Tuesday, September 11, 2007
- ^ Zonta breaks the record, part three...
- ^ Ron Batt (2009-10-29). "Laguna Lap". http://www.motortrend.com/features/laguna_lap/index.html. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
- ^ 2009 Nissan Skyline GT-R conquers the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca By Ed Hellwig Edmunds Inside Line 2/16/2007
- ^ Top Gear, Season 7, Episode 6 2005.12.27
- ^ Skip Barber Racing School Mazda Laguna Seca webpage
- ^ Glick, Shav (October 12, 1987). "Laguna Seca Indy Car Race". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1987-10-12/sports/sp-8841_1_indy-car.
- ^ http://www.muellerized.com/about.html
- Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca official site
- Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca official Online Store
- American Le Mans Series
- Sea Otter Classic
- Trackpedia's guide to driving Laguna Seca
- Steve McQueen raced at Laguna Seca in 1959
- Laguna Seca – A Look Back
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