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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile jewel of a road course on California’s beautiful central coast. It is widely hailed as one of the top ten traditional road courses in the world
As of 2001, the legal name is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Please refer to the correct name when referencing the race track in your stories. Default is Mazda Raceway (Laguna Seca is the name of the recreational facility).
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a non-profit organization run by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP). Each year SCRAMP donates approximately $250,000 to charities and groups in the area. Along with these donations it is estimated that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca brings in about $120 million dollars to the local economy as a result of its major annual events.
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.
Since then, Monterey has been visited by some of the most prestigious racers in history: Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Kenny Roberts, Bobby Rahal, Wayne Rainey and Valentino Rossi to name a few. The late 1960s and 70’s may be remembered as the “Can-Am Years,” but it was also the debut of Trans Am, IMSA and AMA motorcycles. CART Indy Car racing and Grand Prix Motorcycling put their stamp on the track in the 80s and 90s. In the 2000s, the huge evolution of MotoGP created a phenomenal global following for the track.
Today, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosts five world-class race weekends each season, with elite road racing series from around the world visiting the Monterey Peninsula every year.
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, The Corkscrew.
The Corkscrew is one-of-a-kind in motorsports and here is 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% drop.
By the time a race car reaches the apex of Turn 8A (the righthander), the elevation is at its steepest – an 18% drop.
The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A – the equivalent of a 5 1⁄2 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
On August 20, 2006, Toyota F1 test driver Ricardo Zonta set a new lap record of 1’06.039. The previous record time was 1’07.722, set by Helio Castroneves in a Penske Champ Car during the 2000 CART Honda Grand Prix of Monterey. The 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.
Since Zonta’s time and Bourdais’ times were set during an exhibition and testing (respectively) and official records can only be set in race conditions, either in qualifying or during a race, they are unofficial times. The official record remains 1:07.722 set by Helio Castroneves in qualifying for the 2000 race.
Dani Pedrosa has the circuit record lap (motorcycle) with a 1’21.229” in 2012. Jorge Lorenzo holds the circuit best lap with a 1’20.554 in 2012.
Pete Lovely won the first race at the then called, Laguna Seca, in a Ferrari 500 Testa Rosa.
Stirling Moss won the innaugural Pacific Grand Prix and was the only two-time winner.
Steve McQueen was entered in a Formula Junior race until his Cooper had serious engine problems and he could not start the race.
1962 – Pacific Grand Prix had a starting grid with Roger Penske, Bruce McLaren, Innes Ireland, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Jim Hall and Jack Brabham.
1963 – Jim Clark made his only appearance at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the Arciero Bros. Lotus 19 and led the USRRC Championship road race until he had to pit with steering and brake problems after 31 laps.
1965 – A young, almost unknown Jackie Stewart makes his U.S. debut at Laguna Seca driving in the USRRC in a factory Lotus Cortina and finished 13th overall.
1966 – First Can Am race had Jim Hall, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Mark Donohue, Denis Hulme, John Surtees, George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, and Sam Posey on the starting grid in various Chaparrals, Lola T70s and McLaren’s.
Phil Hill gave Chaparral its only victory in the Can Am series here. 1967 – Bruce McLaren won the Monterey Grand Prix Can Am Race.
1972 – Cal Rayborn riding a Harley Davidson was the winner of the first AMA national race run at Laguna Seca.
1973 – NASCAR came to Laguna Seca for the Grand National West Tour. Mark Donohue was the winner of the last Can Am race held here.
1974 – Kenny Roberts on a Yamaha scores the first of his many wins at Laguna Seca in the Kawasaki Superbike International.
1975 – Mario Andretti in a Lola T332 wins the Monterey Grand Prix featuring the F5000 series.
1981 – Laguna Seca hosts its first NASCAR race with the Winston West and has Bobby Allison on the grid. Paul Newman races in the Monterey Triple Crown in a Datsun Turbo.
1983 – The first CART Indy Car race was held with Teo Fabi winning in a March-Cosworth. Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Mike Baldwin and Randy Mamola – four motorcycling racing legends at the top of their game and on equal machinery, race together at the champion Spark Plug 200.
Kenny Roberts retires. He had won 3 world championships, 32 AMA national wins, 24 Grand Prix wins and 7 wins at Laguna Seca.
1984 – Bobby Rahal captured the first of his four consecutive CART victories at Laguna Seca.
1988 – The track was lengthened from 1.9 to 2.214 miles and then to 2.238. The change was accomplished by creating two more turns, carrying the track into the old lake area and then back out to rejoin the course at what is now Turn 5 and lengthening the straightaway from Turn 11 to the start/finish line. This was done to accommodate the International Motorcycle Grand Prix.
1988 – USGP was in fact the first one in 20 years and the first USGP at Laguna Seca. The race was won by Eddie Lawson who was riding against Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey, Mike Baldwin and Randy Mamola.
1989 – Wayne Rainey won from pole in his first of three USGP wins in a row at Laguna Seca.
1990 – Wayne Rainey’s second consecutive win at the USGP at Laguna Seca helped propel him to his first of three World Championships in 1990.
Sidecar road racing hit a high point with the inclusion of the World Championship for sidecars at the USGP. The sidecar engines were limited to 500 cc two strokes. The three wheeled marvels were fan favorites as they negotiated the circuit.
1992 – Michael Andretti wins his second Indy Car race at Laguna Seca and Mario Andretti was third, making it the second year in a row that both Andretti’s were on the podium.
1994 – Mario Andretti makes this CART race his last race and retires.
1995 – The track hosted the World Superbike Championship (WSB) for 10 successive years. The first American rider to win WSB at Laguna Seca was John Kocinski who took victory on a Ducati in 1996.
1996 – On the last lap of the CART race, Alex Zanardi overtook Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew with an unprecedented and unforgettable move known as “The Pass.”
1997 – The FIA GT Championship came to Laguna Seca with Mercedes, Porsches and Gulf McLarens.
2001 – Sponsorship by Mazda North America changes official name of the race track to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
2004 – The last time the Californian circuit was the venue for a World Superbike race when Australian Chris Vermeulen scored a double win.
After the season ended, numerous track modifications were done including the widening of turns 9, 10 and 11 to accommodate MotoGP.
2005 – MotoGP returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with American Nicky Hayden winning the race and then taking his father around the track on the back of his bike.
2005 also marks the first time that the Rolex Grand–Am Sports Car Championships is at the track.
2008 – At the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi overtakes Casey Stoner in The Corkscrew to win the race. It is very similar to Zanardi’s pass. It is Rossi’s first win in the U.S. He celebrates by kissing The Corkscrew in front of 150,000 spectators.
2010 – The famed Monterey Historic Automobile Races® is renamed the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and celebrates the achievements of legend Dan Gurney and his All American Racers.
2011 – Casey Stoner wins the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on his way to the World Championship season that saw him win 10 out of 17 races on the schedule, with 16 podium appearances.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion honors Jaguar.
Porsche Rennsport Reunion is held for the first time on the West Coast, making the fourth edition its most successful.
2012 – Casey Stoner wins the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix before retiring at the end of the season.
The Shelby Cobra is the featured marque of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
2013 – The American Le Mans (ALMS) and GRAND-AM Series run for the final time before their merger to become the TUDOR United SportsCar Series. ALMS had run at Mazda Raceway all 15 years of its existence.
Rookie Mark Marquez wins the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix and adds to the folklore of The Corkscrew by executing a thrilling pass on the legendary Valentino Rossi, just as Rossi had against Casey Stoner in 2008. Marquez would go on to win the 2013 MotoGP World Championship, becoming the youngest rider to ever to capture the title.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion honors the iconic Chevrolet Corvette.