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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca - IMSA Weekend


Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 1021 Monterey Salinas Hwy Salinas, CA 93908



Year Opened: 1957

Capacity: 11,000

 

Corkscrew Views in Cali

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is a world-famous speedway housed atop the high hills outside of Monterey, California. The speedway has hosted some of the world’s biggest racing stars over various racing series, and continues to be a fan and driver favorite as the years progress.


One of the biggest draws of the year, IMSA’s annual spring visit to the track brings large crowds and plenty of on-track action. With no less than four racing series taking to the speedway’s tight turns, fans have a lot of racing action to watch during a weekend. Thanks to a recent investment in the track’s infrastructure, fans can expect an even better product going forward.


Food & Beverage 4

Finding something to eat is easy to do at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as the track is home to various food vendors and beverage carts around the property – at nearly every vantage point there is something to eat.

The majority of food selections are standard burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and a few salads. One of the most popular spots, however, is a small unassuming shiny Airstream sitting in the middle of the paddock. Here, fans can get all sorts of beverages, from fresh hot coffee to iced coffee, blended mochas, and smoothies. In addition, the little trailer also has various selections of desserts and sweets, including homemade cookies and brownies.


Atmosphere 5

The weather in central California is almost always perfect. Rarely seeing the temperature rise higher than the low 80s on race day, the atmosphere at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is nearly all-but-guaranteed to be ideal. In addition, the facility is located on the top of the coastal hills outside Monterey, making it a perfect spot for a breezy afternoon. Large oak trees line the track at various places, giving fans somewhere to hide from the sun if it does get warm. Additionally, fans can camp over the weekend at the track, as the property serves as a recreational park during weekends when there’s no racing.


Neighborhood 4

Monterey is like much of the rest of coastal California; beautiful and relaxing. Boasting the weather and scenery of the Bay Area but with the small town feel of more inland locations, Monterey features a regional airport, numerous locations to stay, and a wide variety of places to eat. In addition, the world-famous Monterey Aquarium is just minutes from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as are Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row.

The locals are kind and courteous, always willing to give you directions and recommendations on where to go. And no matter what time of the year you are going, there is always some form of festival or celebration going on, such as Italian Fest, Jazz Fest, or Octoberfest.

For great food, check out Gusto’s Handcrafted Pasta & Pizza, or Hula’s Island Grill. Hotels are plentiful, including the Hilton Garden Inn Monterey and Hotel Pacific.


Fans 4

The fans in Monterey are big-time race fans, having flocked to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for years. They all know the best places to watch from, so asking for a little advice will be met with kind suggestions for the newbie race fan. They also know how to party, putting on some great cookouts overnight in the camping areas. And if you want help understanding what’s going on, you can ask anyone.

The fans cheer loudly with every close pass and thrilling corner on the track, making for an enjoyable race event.


Access 3

Getting to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is a bit of a difficult task, thanks in part to the traffic coming in and out of the canyon in which the track is located. While the route from either Salinas or Monterey is pretty straightforward, the roads are almost all one-lane thoroughfares, meaning one slow car can make traffic a nightmare. Additionally, getting up the side of the mountain once inside the track’s gates can be daunting to those who aren’t used to driving up steep inclines.


Parking is plentiful and available at various locations on the property, with additional parking passes available for different parking lots. Once you are at the raceway, moving around is aided by various bridges across the track to get from the inside to the outside of the course; just be sure to bring your hiking shoes, as the hillside walks are pretty impressive. Currently the main bridge over the front straight is under construction, meaning fans wanting to make their way to the infield from the main front stretch grandstands will have quite a walk ahead of them to get there.


Return on Investment 4

The track itself is very challenging, making for some of the most exciting and closest racing in the sport. The famed corkscrew complex is also world famous for its difficulty, giving the best of drivers fits on race days. Combining the free autograph sessions, the massive fan zone, and the easy to see victory lane setup, this event offers a lot of up-close access that fans may not get at other racing events. Tickets are generally affordable, and demand is higher than ever, with 2023 selling out all VIP and hospitality packages, and an 11% increase in camping reservations.


Extras 4

The corkscrew is the biggest draw here, and the hillside viewing at the track gives fans the best chance to view one of the most intimidating corners in all of racing. Spectators can also experience a great fan zone here at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, featuring numerous autograph sessions during race weekends.

Something that is also different about WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is the hiking trails on site; walking up the hills to several of the viewing spots can be a workout unto itself. The weather also gives fans a beautiful backdrop from which to watch racing, as the typical morning fog in California creates a dramatic vista in the early hours.

During the weekend, several free autograph sessions take place for fans to be able to meet the stars of the various IMSA series on track.


Final Thoughts

If you want to find a historically significant spot to watch racing that features brilliantly perfect weather conditions, a culturally vibrant city nearby, and the essence of thrilling action on track, you should look no further than WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The fans will welcome you with open arms, and the symphony of motors roaring through the mountains will fill your heart with joy. This is definitely a bucket-list track for true racing fans to visit.


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