Legendary Track Is The Perfect Fit For Monterey, CA
It is in wine country and has a series of turns known as the corkscrew.
There are elevation changes that outdo any rollercoaster and it has more curves than you’ll find on the podium girls.
I am referring to Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, and it is America’s coolest racetrack.
Laguna Seca – officially known as WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca because of its title sponsor – is a twisting, turning challenge for drivers and a unique racing experience for spectators located in the slow rolling hills of Monterey County.
At Laguna Seca, fans don’t sit in grandstands, for example. They sit in chairs on a hillside, many in front of their campers. While the pace on the track is fast, it’s as relaxed as an outdoor barbecue in the viewing areas.
By hosting events for IndyCar, sports cars, motorcycles and its legendary vintage race events, the track is as varied as wines at a Monterey County winery.
And it has history. Oh, the history. I was there for “the pass,” Alex Zanardi’s he-did-what move by going straight through the winding corkscrew on the last lap to win an IndyCar race. It’s one of the most famous passes in motorsports history.
The names who have raced here include just about every famous racer who has put on a helmet: Andretti, Fittipaldi, Foyt, Unser… Actor Paul Newman, too.
I was introduced to the track at the beginning of my motorsports PR career in the early 90s. I went there for a sports car race and instantly felt the specialness of the place. But it was not until later, when I was able to walk around with a local friend during an IndyCar race as a fan, did I really appreciate it.
My friend started at one part of the infield and worked his way around to being at the finish line by the end of the race. He showed me the many different vantage points the landscape offers from the corners to the back straight to the top of the hill where drivers turn into the beginning of the corkscrew.
Oh, I never did learn to like that hike up from the paddock to the aged press box – it was as vintage as some of the cars that race there – but being in this beautiful area always made me look forward to going to Laguna Seca.
The city of Monterey, a small town, really, on the California coast where otters, seals and sailboats share space in the deep-blue colored Pacific, is gorgeous. The pace of life is slow and that fits right into the atmosphere of the track.
Laguna Seca is worth a visit, even if you’re not much a motorsports fan. Here, it’s about the experience.