The Monterey Peninsula’s love affair with world-class racing traces its beginnings to the inaugural running of the Pebble Beach Road Races in 1950. Those sports car events quickly outgrew the public roads of the Del Monte Forest and a beautiful new road racing facility was born on November 9, 1957.
The earliest development of the local area occurred in 1867 with the founding of the nearby Laguna Seca Ranch, which had 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 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-Am, Superbike World Championship and MotoGP motorcycle races and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
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 length to its current 2.238-mile length, plus the relocation of pedestrian bridges and embankments, and the expansion of gravel pits for additional runoff.
The original media center was demolished in 2006 and replaced by the Hospitality Pavilion (formerly known as the Red Bull Energy Center), a modern entertainment facility with commanding views of the facility.
Perhaps one of the most famous moments of racing took place at the 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.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile jewel of a road course on California’s beautiful central coast. While the track is a favorite of racers and fans worldwide, many focus on one specific section—officially Turns 8 and 8A—or more commonly known as The Corkscrew.
The Corkscrew is a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports. Here’s what makes the hard-left, hard-right combination so spectacular:
At the apex to Turn 8 (the lefthander and entry to The Corkscrew), the elevation change is a 12 percent drop. By the time a race car reaches the apex of Turn 8A (the righthander), the elevation is at its steepest – an 18 percent drop. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A—the equivalent of a 5½ story drop—in only 450 feet of track length. From Turn 8 to Turn 9, the elevation falls 109 feet, or just over 10 stories.
There is so much to see and do when visiting Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, whether it’s making a quick overnight stop to see a race, or if you’re making a weekend of it and checking out all the cool attractions in the Monterey County area.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca offers some of the coolest apparel in all of motor racing, from jackets and sweatshirts to ball caps and tees. Be sure to visit our online souvenir store to browse the exclusive merchandise.
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