|Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca|
|Location||Monterey, California, USA|
|Active from||1957 - present|
|Major events|| United States motorcycle Grand Prix|
American Le Mans Series
Monterey Historic Automobile Races
|Length||2.238 mi (3.602 km)|
|Lap record||1'07.722 (Helio Castroneves, Reynard 2Ki Honda, 2000, CART)|
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 Monterey, California, USA.
The current racetrack is 2.238 mi 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 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.
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 (who still races vintage cars to this day) 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 mi 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.
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 mi 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.
Other use 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.
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 if the driver were sufficiently experienced and talented.
Laguna Seca can be raced on in CART Precision Racing, Corvette Evolution GT, Forza Motorsport, Forza Motorsport 2, Forza Motorsport 3, Grand Prix Legends, Gran Turismo 2, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Gran Turismo 4, Gran Turismo (PSP), Ferrari F355 Challenge, IndyCar Racing, IndyCar Racing II, NASCAR Racing 4, NASCAR Racing 2002 Season, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, Sports Car GT, MotoGP '08, Race Pro, Rfactor, TOCA Race Driver 2, TOCA Race Driver 3, Race On, Need For Speed: SHIFT, Tourist Trophy, MotoGP 09/10 and will be featured in the upcoming Gran Turismo 5. The track has been digitally scanned and included in the iRacing.com simulation service.
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.
- Main article: Monterey Grand Prix
Champ Car Marlboro ChallengeEdit
|1989||October 14||Al Unser, Jr.||Lola||Chevrolet||Galles Racing|
|1991||October 19||Michael Andretti||Lola||Chevrolet||Newman/Haas Racing|
American Le Mans SeriesEdit
- Main article: Monterey Sports Car Championships
A1 Grand PrixEdit
|Season||Sprint Race Winner||Feature Race Winner|
|2005–2006||Salvador Durán||Salvador Durán|
Rolex Sports Car SeriesEdit
|Luis Diaz/ Scott Pruett|| DP: Lexus
GT: BMW M3
|DP: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates|
|Max Angelelli / Jan Magnussen / Wayne Taylor|| DP: Pontiac
GT: Ferrari F430
| DP: SunTrust Racing
GT: Tafel Racing
|Patrick Long / Jörg Bergmeister|| DP: Porsche
GT: Pontiac GTO
|DP: Alex Job Racing|
|Ryan Dalziel / Henri Zogaib|| DP: BMW
GT: Pontiac GXP.R
| DP: SAMAX Motorsport
GT: Banner Racing
|Jon Fogarty / Alex Gurney|| DP: Pontiac
GT: Mazda RX-8
| DP: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing
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 in part made to lure the race. In the final decision, Laguna Seca was thought to be too small for an F1 crowd and too remote and Phoenix was granted the Grand Prix. It proved to be highly unsuccessful and only lasted 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.
See Also Edit
- 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
- ↑ 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
- ↑ 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
- ↑ 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.