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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

11-LagunaSeca.gif
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Nicknames Laguna Seca
Location 22px-Flag of the United States.png Monterey, California, USA
Time UTC-8 (UTC-7 DST)
Opened 1957
Events

MotoGP
United States Grand Prix

American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car Championships

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Monterey Festival of Speed

Monterey Historic Automobile Races

Surface Paved
Miles first True
Length km 3.602
Length mi 2.238
Turns 11
Record driver Helio Castroneves
Record time 1:07.722
Record team Penske
Record class Champ Car
Record year 2000


Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a paved road racing track (used for both auto racing and motorcycle racing) originally built in 1957 near Monterey, California, USA.

The current racetrack is 2.238 miles in length (3.58 kilometers), has eleven turns, including the famous (and gut-wrenching) "Corkscrew" at Turns 8 and 8A, and a 300 foot elevation change. A variety of racing, exhibition and entertainment events are held at the raceway, ranging from superkarts to American Le Mans racing to music festivals.

History

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, and AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) and MotoGP motorcycle races.

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 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 run off. 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 "Corkscrew" at Turn 8.
A view of the "Corkscrew" from the bottom.

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 mile course is 1 minute, 07.722 seconds, set in 2000 by Helio 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

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 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 GT4 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 1:41 if the driver were sufficiently experienced and talented.

Laguna Seca is home to a branch of the Skip Barber Racing School, which conducts race and street driver training in the paddock area and on the circuit itself on a year-round basis.

Clarkson attempts to beat his Gran Turismo time against the real Laguna Seca.

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.

On September 17, 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at Laguna Seca Raceway, where 50,000 people had gathered to see him.

In addition, each summer the track and its environs are given over to a large outdoor Christian music festival, Spirit West Coast.

In 2006 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted the world's first all-female Formula racing team, which was put together by producer, Todd Baker. The group was an assemblage of drivers from different racing disciplines, and formed for an MTV reality television pilot.

Parts of the 1977 Disney film Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo were filmed at the track, particularly during the practice and qualifying scenes.

The German automobile maker BMW named one of its colors for the E46 M3 (production years 2001-2006, although this particular color was only offered as a standard option from 2001-2004) Laguna Seca Blue, in honor of the Laguna Seca raceway.


Race Winners

Champ Car/CART

Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1983 October 23 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Teo Fabi March Cosworth Forsythe Racing
1984 October 21 22px-Flag of the United States.png Bobby Rahal March Cosworth TrueSports
1985 October 6 22px-Flag of the United States.png Bobby Rahal March Cosworth TrueSports
1986 October 12 22px-Flag of the United States.png Bobby Rahal March Cosworth TrueSports
1987 October 11 22px-Flag of the United States.png Bobby Rahal Lola Cosworth TrueSports
1988 October 16 22px-Flag of the United States.png Danny Sullivan Penske Chevrolet-Ilmor Penske Racing
1989 October 15 22px-Flag of the United States.png Rick Mears Penske Chevrolet-Ilmor Penske Racing
1990 October 21 22px-Flag of the United States.png Danny Sullivan Penske Chevrolet-Ilmor Penske Racing
1991 October 20 22px-Flag of the United States.png Michael Andretti Lola Chevrolet-Ilmor Newman/Haas Racing
1992 October 18 22px-Flag of the United States.png Michael Andretti Lola Ford-Cosworth Newman/Haas Racing
1993 October 3 22px-Flag of the Canada.png Paul Tracy Penske Chevrolet-Ilmor Penske Racing
1994 October 2 22px-Flag of the Canada.png Paul Tracy Penske Mercedes-Benz-Ilmor Penske Racing
1995 September 9 22px-Flag of Brazil.png Gil de Ferran Reynard Mercedes-Benz-Ilmor Jim Hall Racing
1996 September 8 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Alex Zanardi Reynard Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
1997 September 7 22px-Flag of the United States.png Jimmy Vasser Reynard Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
1998 September 13 22px-Flag of the United States.png Bryan Herta Reynard Ford-Cosworth Team Rahal
1999 September 12 22px-Flag of the United States.png Bryan Herta Reynard Ford-Cosworth Team Rahal
2000 September 10 22px-Flag of Brazil.png Helio Castroneves Reynard Honda Penske Racing
2001 October 14 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Max Papis Lola Ford-Cosworth Team Rahal
2002 June 9 22px-Flag of Brazil.png Cristiano da Matta Lola Toyota Newman/Haas Racing
2003 June 15 22px-Flag of the Canada.png Patrick Carpentier Lola Ford-Cosworth Forsythe Racing
2004 September 12 22px-Flag of the Canada.png Patrick Carpentier Lola Ford-Cosworth Forsythe Racing


Champ Car Marlboro Challenge

Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1989 October 14 22px-Flag of the United States.png Al Unser, Jr. Lola Chevrolet Galles Racing
1991 October 19 22px-Flag of the United States.png Michael Andretti Lola Chevrolet Newman/Haas Racing


American Le Mans Series

Season Class Winning Drivers Platform
1999 LMP 22px-Flag of Finland.png JJ Lehto / 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Steve Soper BMW V12 LMR
GTS 22px-Flag of Monaco.png Olivier Beretta / 22px-Flag of Austria.png Karl Wendlinger Dodge Viper GTS-R
GT 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Johnny Mowlem / 22px-Flag of the United States.png David Murry Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
2000 LMP 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Rinaldo Capello / 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Allan McNish Audi R8
GTS 22px-Flag of Monaco.png Olivier Beretta / 22px-Flag of Austria.png Karl Wendlinger Dodge Viper GTS-R
GT 22px-Flag of Germany.png Hans Joachim Stuck / 22px-Flag of the United States.png Boris Said BMW M3 GT
2001 LMP900 22px-Flag of Germany.png Frank Biela / 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Emanuele Pirro Audi R8
LMP675 22px-Flag of Venezuela.svg.png Milka Duno / 22px-Flag of Belgium (civil).png Didier de Radigues Reynard 01Q-Judd
GTS 22px-Flag of the United States.png Terry Borcheller / 22px-Flag of Austria.png Franz Konrad Saleen S7-R
GT 22px-Flag of Finland.png JJ Lehto / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Jörg Müller BMW M3 GTR
2002 LMP900 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Emanuele Pirro / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Frank Biela Audi R8
LMP675 22px-Flag of the United States.png Chad Block / 22px-Flag of the United States.png Steve Knight / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Claudia Hürtgen MG-Lola EX257
GTS 22px-Flag of the Czech Republic.svg.png Tomáš Enge / 22px-Flag of the Netherlands.png Peter Kox Ferrari 550 Maranello
GT 22px-Flag of Germany.png Lucas Luhr / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Sascha Maassen Porsche 911 GT3-RS
2003 LMP900 22px-Flag of Germany.png Frank Biela / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Marco Werner Audi R8
LMP675 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png James Weaver / 22px-Flag of the United States.png Butch Leitzinger MG-Lola EX257
GTS 22px-Flag of Denmark.png Jan Magnussen / 22px-Flag of Australia.svg.png David Brabham Ferrari 550 Maranello
GT 22px-Flag of Germany.png Sascha Maassen / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Lucas Luhr Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
2004 LMP1 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Johnny Herbert / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Pierre Kaffer Audi R8
LMP2 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Ian James / 22px-Flag of the United States.png James Gue Courage C65-AER
GT1 22px-Flag of Monaco.png Olivier Beretta / 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Oliver Gavin Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
GT2 22px-Flag of Germany.png Timo Bernhard / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Jörg Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
2005 LMP1 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Tom Chilton / 22px-Flag of Japan.png Hayanari Shimoda Zytek 04S
LMP2 22px-Flag of Germany.png Sascha Maassen / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Lucas Luhr Porsche RS Spyder
GT1 22px-Flag of Monaco.png Olivier Beretta / 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Oliver Gavin Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
GT2 22px-Flag of the United States.png Patrick Long / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Jörg Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
2006 LMP1 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Rinaldo Capello / 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Allan McNish Audi R10
LMP2 22px-Flag of France.png Romain Dumas / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Lucas Luhr Porsche RS Spyder
GT1 22px-Flag of France.png Stephane Sarrazin / 22px-Flag of Portugal.png Pedro Lamy Aston Martin DBR9
GT2 22px-Flag of Finland.png Mika Salo / 22px-Flag of Monaco.png Stéphane Ortelli Ferrari 430GT
2007 LMP1 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Rinaldo Capello / 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Allan McNish Audi R10
LMP2 22px-Flag of France.png Romain Dumas / 22px-Flag of Germany.png Timo Bernhard Porsche RS Spyder Evo
GT1 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom.png Oliver Gavin / 22px-Flag of Monaco.svg.png Olivier Beretta Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
GT2 22px-Flag of Finland.png Mika Salo / 22px-Flag of Brazil.png Jaime Melo Ferrari F430GT


A1 Grand Prix

Season Sprint Race Winner Feature Race Winner
2005-2006 22px-Flag of Mexico.png Salvador Durán 22px-Flag of Mexico.png Salvador Durán

500cc/Moto GP

Year Race Winner Team/Bike
1988 22px-Flag of the United States.png Eddie Lawson Yamaha
1989 22px-Flag of the United States.png Wayne Rainey Yamaha
1990 22px-Flag of the United States.png Wayne Rainey Yamaha
1991 22px-Flag of the United States.png Wayne Rainey Yamaha
1993 22px-Flag of the United States.png John Kocinski Cagiva
1994 3dflagsdotcom italy2bs.gif Luca Cadalora Yamaha
2005 22px-Flag of the United States.png Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda RC211V
2006 22px-Flag of the United States.png Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda RC211V
2007 22px-Flag of Australia.png Casey Stoner Ducati Desmosedici GP7


Formula One

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 (which was highly unsuccessful and only lasted three years).

Lap records

On August 20, 2006, Toyota F1 test driver Ricardo Zonta set a new lap record of 1'06.309. 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.


External links



Champ Car Tracks
Ovals
AtlantaCaliforniaChicagoGatewayHomesteadLas VegasLoudonMichiganMilwaukeeNazarethOntarioPhoenixPoconoSanairTexasTexas WorldTrenton
Road Courses
ClevelandEdmontonLaguna SecaMid-OhioMontrealMont-TremblantPortlandRiversideRoad AmericaWatkins Glen
Street circuits
Belle IsleDenverDetroitHoustonVegas G.P.Long BeachMeadowlandsMiamiSan JoseSt. PeteTamiami ParkTorontoVancouver
International
AssenBrands HatchEuroSpeedwayJerezMexico CityMonterreyMotegiRioRockinghamSurfers ParadiseZolder


Grand-Am circuits

Daytona • Hermanos Rodríguez • Homestead • Virginia • Laguna Seca • Lime Rock • Watkins Glen • Mid-Ohio • Barber • Montréal • Infineon • Miller
Former Circuits:
California • Iowa • Long Beach • Mont-Tremblant • Phoenix • Road America • Trois-Rivières


ALMS (American Le Mans Series) circuits

Sebring • St. Petersburg • Long Beach • Miller • Lime Rock • Mid-Ohio • Road America • Mosport • Detroit • Road Atlanta • Laguna Seca

Former Circuits:
Adelaide • Charlotte • Houston • Infineon (Sears Point) • Las Vegas • Miami • Nürburgring • Portland • Silverstone • Texas • Trois-Rivières • Washington, D.C.

Former European Le Mans Series Circuits (2001 only)
Sebring • Donington • Jarama • Estoril • Most • Vallelunga • Road Atlanta


A1 Grand Prix Circuits
A1GP Circuits

ZandvoortBrnoZhuhaiSepangTaupoEastern CreekDurbanMexico CityShanghaiBrands Hatch


MotoGP circuits

Current circuits (2008)
LosailJerezEstorilShangaiLe MansMugelloCatalunyaDoningtonAssenSachsenringLaguna SecaBrnoMisanoIndianapolisMotegiPhillip IslandSepangValencia

Past circuits
IstanbulWelkomSuzukaRio de JaneiroPaul RicardImolaBuenos AiresJohorJaramaShah AlamZeltwegNürburgringSentulEastern CreekSalzburgringHockenheimHungaroringMagny-CoursInterlagosKyalamiRijekaSpa-FrancorchampsAnderstorp GoianiaMonzaSilverstoneOpatijaNogaroImatraSan CarlosKarlskogaIsle of ManMontjuïcCharadeDundrodMosportFujiDaytonaRouenSolitudeTampereKristianstadtHedemoraReimsBremgartenSchottenringAlbiGeneva


SBK circuits

LosailPhillip IslandValenciaAssenMonzaSalt Lake CityNürburgringMisanoBrnoBrands HatchDonington ParkVallelungaMagny-CoursPortimao

Past Circuits
AlbaceteAnderstorp BrainerdEstorilEuroSpeedway LausitzHockenheimHungaroringImolaJohorJaramaJerezKyalamiLaguna SecaLe MansManfeildMosportMugelloOran ParkOscherslebenÖsterreichringPaul RicardPergusaSalzburgring SentulShah AlamSilverstoneSpa-FrancorchampsSugoZeltweg