Monterey’s legendary Laguna Seca turns 60 this month. It’s come a long way since those early days.
Laguna Seca celebrates its 60th anniversary this month. The famous circuit was first opened at the start of its inaugural event – the eighth annual Pebble Beach Road Races, which were held on 9-10 November 1957.
The circuit was the answer for a safer Pebble Beach circuit. In the pre Laguna Seca days, the course took drivers through a nearby forest, which, after tragic events was deemed unsafe. But while unsafe, it provided revenue for the community, and this had not gone unnoticed. So a group of civic-minded businessmen decided to dedicate their time and money to keep sports car racing in Monterey.
Thus the ‘Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula’ (SCRAMP) was formed and began working with military officers in order to secure land for its motorsport endeavours. SCRAMP and the Monterey Chamber of Commerce negotiated a five year deal and paid $3,000 to the Army for use of the land, and on August 7, 1957 a lease was signed.
SCRAMP began fundraising and collected $125,000 for track construction that began the first week of September. The track was completed 60 days later, just in time to host the first race in November. The circuit’s first event attracted 100 entries and 35,000 spectators.
The track has undergone huge changes and improvements since then and has now expanded to to an 11-corner, 2.238-mile circuit. The track is best known for its famous Corkscrew, a hard-left, hard-right turn with a five-and-a-half story drop in elevation. It has hosted Can Am, Trans Am, Indy Car, and several 500cc Motorcycle Grands Prix during its six-decade career.
But Laguna Seca is more than just a circuit. The Laguna Seca Recreation Area also hosts a baffling array of bizarre events such as the Sea Otter Classic and the Turkey Trot. More conventionally, it also provides a stage for live concerts.
Now known as Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca, the circuit is still a staple venue in the American motorsport diary. Its general manager said: ‘We are incredibly pleased to celebrate the 60th birthday of a track that grabs your heart. Great names like Hill, Moss, Gurney, Andretti, Rainey, Brabham, Rahal, Rossi, Follmer, McLaren, Shelby, Hobbs, Posey, Donohue, Rainey, and so many more are what makes this one of the world’s racing gems. We honour all of the past and present leaders, staff, volunteers, racers, and fans who have made this place what it is and continue pushing it forward for future generations to enjoy.’