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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Location Monterey, California, USA
Active from 1957 - present
Major events United States motorcycle Grand Prix
CART
American Le Mans Series
Monterey Historic Automobile Races
Surface Paved
Length 2.238 mi (3.602 km)
Turns 11
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.

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.<ref>Environmental Site Assessment: Laguna Seca Ranch, Earth Metrics Inc., on file with the County of Monterey (1989)</ref>

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.<ref>Google Street View image</ref>

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.<ref>Champ Car > News Tuesday, September 11, 2007</ref> 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

Automotive

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.<ref>2009 Nissan Skyline GT-R conquers the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca By Ed Hellwig Edmunds Inside Line 2/16/2007</ref>

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.<ref>Top Gear, Season 7, Episode 6 2005.12.27</ref> 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 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.<ref>Skip Barber Racing School Mazda Laguna Seca webpage</ref>

Video games

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.

Racing

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.

Race winners

Champ Car/CART

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

Champ Car Marlboro Challenge

Season Date Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1989 October 14 Template:Country flagicon Al Unser, Jr. Lola Chevrolet Galles Racing
1991 October 19 Template:Country flagicon Michael Andretti Lola Chevrolet Newman/Haas Racing

American Le Mans Series

Season Class Winning Drivers Platform Team
1999 LMP Template:Country flagicon JJ Lehto / Template:Country flagicon Steve Soper BMW V12 LMR BMW Motorsport
GTS Template:Country flagicon Olivier Beretta / Template:Country flagicon Karl Wendlinger Dodge Viper GTS-R Viper Team Oreca
GT Template:Country flagicon Johnny Mowlem / Template:Country flagicon David Murry Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Reiser Callas Rennsport
2000 LMP Template:Country flagicon Rinaldo Capello / Template:Country flagicon Allan McNish Audi R8 Audi Sport North America
GTS Template:Country flagicon Olivier Beretta / Template:Country flagicon Karl Wendlinger Dodge Viper GTS-R Viper Team Oreca
GT Template:Country flagicon Hans Joachim Stuck / Template:Country flagicon Boris Said BMW M3 GT Prototype Technology Group
2001 LMP900 Template:Country flagicon Frank Biela / Template:Country flagicon Emanuele Pirro Audi R8 Audi Sport North America
LMP675 Template:Country flagicon Milka Duno / Template:Country flagicon Didier de Radigues Reynard 01Q-Judd Dick Barbour Racing
GTS Template:Country flagicon Terry Borcheller / Template:Country flagicon Franz Konrad Saleen S7-R Konrad Team Saleen
GT Template:Country flagicon JJ Lehto / Template:Country flagicon Jörg Müller BMW M3 GTR BMW Motorsport
2002 LMP900 Template:Country flagicon Emanuele Pirro / Template:Country flagicon Frank Biela Audi R8 Audi Sport North America
LMP675 Template:Country flagicon Chad Block / Template:Country flagicon Steve Knight / Template:Country flagicon Claudia Hürtgen MG-Lola EX257 KnightHawk Racing
GTS Template:Country flagicon Tomáš Enge / Template:Country flagicon Peter Kox Ferrari 550 Maranello Prodrive
GT Template:Country flagicon Lucas Luhr / Template:Country flagicon Sascha Maassen Porsche 911 GT3-RS Alex Job Racing
2003 LMP900 Template:Country flagicon Frank Biela / Template:Country flagicon Marco Werner Audi R8 Infineon Team Joest
LMP675 Template:Country flagicon James Weaver / Template:Country flagicon Butch Leitzinger MG-Lola EX257 Dyson Racing
GTS Template:Country flagicon Jan Magnussen / Template:Country flagicon David Brabham Ferrari 550 Maranello Prodrive
GT Template:Country flagicon Sascha Maassen / Template:Country flagicon Lucas Luhr Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Alex Job Racing
2004 LMP1 Template:Country flagicon Johnny Herbert / Template:Country flagicon Pierre Kaffer Audi R8 ADT Champion Racing
LMP2 Template:Country flagicon Clint Field / Template:Country flagicon Rick Sutherland / Template:Country flagicon Robin Liddell Lola B2K/40 - Judd Intersport Racing
GT1 Template:Country flagicon Ron Fellows / Template:Country flagicon Johnny O'Connell Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Corvette Racing
GT2 Template:Country flagicon Marc Lieb / Template:Country flagicon Romain Dumas Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Alex Job Racing
2005 LMP1 Template:Country flagicon Tom Chilton / Template:Country flagicon Hayanari Shimoda Zytek 04S Zytek Engineering
LMP2 Template:Country flagicon Sascha Maassen / Template:Country flagicon Lucas Luhr Porsche RS Spyder Penske Racing
GT1 Template:Country flagicon Olivier Beretta / Template:Country flagicon Oliver Gavin Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Corvette Racing
GT2 Template:Country flagicon Patrick Long / Template:Country flagicon Jörg Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Petersen/White Lightning Racing
2006 LMP1 Template:Country flagicon Rinaldo Capello / Template:Country flagicon Allan McNish Audi R10 TDI Audi Sport North America
LMP2 Template:Country flagicon Romain Dumas / Template:Country flagicon Lucas Luhr Porsche RS Spyder Porsche Racing
GT1 Template:Country flagicon Stéphane Sarrazin / Template:Country flagicon Pedro Lamy Aston Martin DBR9 Aston Martin Racing
GT2 Template:Country flagicon Mika Salo / Template:Country flagicon Stéphane Ortelli Ferrari F430 GT2 Risi Competizione
2007 LMP1 Template:Country flagicon Rinaldo Capello / Template:Country flagicon Allan McNish Audi R10 TDI Audi Sport North America
LMP2 Template:Country flagicon Romain Dumas / Template:Country flagicon Timo Bernhard Porsche RS Spyder Evo Porsche Racing
GT1 Template:Country flagicon Oliver Gavin / Template:Country flagicon Olivier Beretta Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Corvette Racing
GT2 Template:Country flagicon Mika Salo / Template:Country flagicon Jaime Melo Ferrari F430GT Risi Competizione
2008 LMP1 Template:Country flagicon Marco Werner / Template:Country flagicon Lucas Luhr Audi R10 TDI Audi Sport North America
LMP2 Template:Country flagicon Franck Montagny / Template:Country flagicon Tony Kanaan Acura ARX-01B Andretti Green Racing
GT1 Template:Country flagicon Olivier Beretta / Template:Country flagicon Oliver Gavin Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Corvette Racing
GT2 Template:Country flagicon Dominik Farnbacher / Template:Country flagicon Dirk Müller Ferrari F430 GT2 Tafel Racing
2009 LMP1 Template:Country flagicon Gil de Ferran / Template:Country flagicon Simon Pagenaud Acura ARX-02a de Ferran Motorsports
LMP2 Template:Country flagicon Adrian Fernández / Template:Country flagicon Luis Diaz Acura ARX-01B Fernández Racing
GT2 Template:Country flagicon Jörg Bergmeister / Template:Country flagicon Patrick Long Porsche 911 GT3-RSR Flying Lizard Motorsports
GTC Template:Country flagicon John Baker / Template:Country flagicon Guy Cosmo Porsche 911 GT3 Orbit Racing
2010 LMP Template:Country flagicon David Brabham / Template:Country flagicon Simon Pagenaud / Template:Country flagicon Marino Franchitti HPD ARX-01 Patrón Highcroft Racing
LMC Template:Country flagicon Scott Tucker / Template:Country flagicon Christophe Bouchut / Template:Country flagicon Mark Wilkins Oreca FLM09-Chevrolet Level 5 Motorsports
GT Template:Country flagicon Jörg Bergmeister / Template:Country flagicon Patrick Long Porsche 997 GT3-RSR Flying Lizard Motorsports
GTC Template:Country flagicon Tim Pappas / Template:Country flagicon Jeroen Bleekemolen / Template:Country flagicon Sebastiaan Bleekemolen Porsche 997 GT3 Cup Black Swan Racing

A1 Grand Prix

Season Sprint Race Winner Feature Race Winner
2005–2006 Template:Country flagicon Salvador Durán Template:Country flagicon Salvador Durán

Rolex Sports Car Series

Season Class Winning Drivers Platform Team
2005 DP:

GT:

Template:Country flagicon Luis Diaz/ Template:Country flagicon Scott Pruett

Template:Country flagicon Tom Milner/ Template:Country flagicon Justin Marks/ Template:Country flagicon Bill Auberlen

DP: Lexus

GT: BMW M3

DP: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

GT: Prototype Technology Group

2006 DP:

GT:

Template:Country flagicon Max Angelelli / Template:Country flagicon Jan Magnussen / Template:Country flagicon Wayne Taylor

Template:Country flagicon Wolf Henzler / Template:Country flagicon Robin Liddell

DP: Pontiac

GT: Ferrari F430

DP: SunTrust Racing

GT: Tafel Racing

2007 DP:

GT:

Template:Country flagicon Patrick Long / Template:Country flagicon Jörg Bergmeister

Template:Country flagicon Andy Lally / Template:Country flagicon R.J. Valentine

DP: Porsche

GT: Pontiac GTO

DP: Alex Job Racing

GT: The Racer's Group

2008 DP:

GT:

Template:Country flagicon Ryan Dalziel / Template:Country flagicon Henri Zogaib

Template:Country flagicon Paul Edwards / Template:Country flagicon Kelly Collins

DP: BMW

GT: Pontiac GXP.R

DP: SAMAX Motorsport

GT: Banner Racing

2009 DP:

GT:

Template:Country flagicon Jon Fogarty / Template:Country flagicon Alex Gurney

Template:Country flagicon Nick Ham / Template:Country flagicon Sylvain Tremblay

DP: Pontiac

GT: Mazda RX-8

DP: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing

GT: SpeedSource

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. It proved to be highly unsuccessful and only lasted three years.

Lap records

On August 20, 2006, Toyota F1 test driver Ricardo Zonta set an unofficial lap record of 1'06.039.<ref>Zonta breaks the record, part three...</ref> 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.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

See Also

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External links