Laguna Seca renaissance, Part 1: Rediscovery

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Photograph: Barry Cantrell/Motorsport Photographs

The Laguna Seca Raceway Basis exists to boost funds for the event of the Laguna Seca Leisure Space and is a separate entity from each the observe operator and Monterey County. A 501c company, the LSRF has been rejuvenated of late with key additions to its board of administrators — males who collectively posses a transparent imaginative and prescient for WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca’s future with the power and wherewithal to assist safe it. Within the weeks forward, RACER — now a part of the group by way of the naming of its founder and president, Paul Pfanner, to the board — will share the behind-the-scenes of this world-class raceway’s renaissance.

This story was initially posted on RACER.com and authored by Steve Nickless

“You realize you’re getting up there,” opined Group 44’s venerable Bob Tullius, “while you’re at a classic race and you’ll keep in mind when each automobile was subsequent yr’s mannequin.”

These phrases from the 1960-’70s Trans-Am nice (as soon as my boss) rang painfully true as I stared wide-eyed on the silver ex-Herb Adams 1964 Pontiac GTO Tullius had pedaled to some shocking Trans-Am success again in 1971, a forerunner of the Seventies success he would take pleasure in with V-12 Jaguars and V8 Triumphs within the Seventies.

The brisk stroll via the jam-packed SVRA Trans Am Speedfest paddock on a cold Friday morning at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was like that: First trek to a professional race in additional than a yr; first time again to the Monterey Peninsula and Laguna in almost 25 years; and a cascade of reminiscences, of automobiles and drivers and vital races at Northern California’s most scenic if not most difficult (Sonoma Raceway would seemingly argue) street course.

John Hildebrand’s superbly restored ’64 Pontiac GTO (pushed by Bob Tullius to second place within the ’71 Trans-Am season opener at Lime Rock) was simply one in every of many consideration grabbers on the Laguna Seca SVRA Trans Am Speedfest. Picture by Steve Nickless

Not like the immaculately restored GTO — and a whole lot of different lovingly prepped machines (together with however not restricted to a trio of Cobras, a pair of ex-Bud Moore 1970 Trans-Am Mustangs, and greater than 30 Method Fords) — beneath the hood, the observe itself was displaying a few of its age and the consequences of a spectator-less 2020 season (the COVID curse plaguing all of the world’s racetracks).

The Trans Am Speedfest weekend was a revelation, not only for the enjoyment of an unbelievable Trans Am TA2 class race on Saturday, the prospect to hang around with nice FF and modern-day buddies and heroes, however a private discovery of a bunch of native residents fiercely dedicated to sharpening Laguna Seca’s luster.

I discovered concerning the Laguna Seca Raceway Basis from RACER journal’s founder and main domo Paul Pfanner, newly invited to a board that features movers and shakers from the Peninsula, from the Salinas and Silicon valleys (and, in Pfanner, from SoCal) who share a typical ardour, imaginative and prescient and objective: Serving to direct Laguna Seca’s renaissance, funding a return to prominence as one of many world’s best racetracks; serving to to coordinate communication between Monterey County (which controls the 559 acres of federal land deeded to it “to be used a public park and public recreation space”), the observe operator, A&D Narigi Consulting, sponsors (together with title sponsor WeatherTech), an organized group of volunteers and plenty of hundreds of race followers right into a cohesive, forward-looking entity ushering in a return to the Laguna Seca Raceway glory days.

The Basis was established because the “SCRAMP Enchancment Fund” in November 2002; was subsequently granted 501(c)(3) tax standing in April of 2003; then modified it’s identify to Laguna Seca Raceway Basis in April of 2019. For a lot of that point, the Fund/Basis has been a key monetary contributor to the county-run Sports activities Automotive Racing on the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP)-operated racetrack on federal land simply off Freeway 68 west of Salinas.

A world racing mecca: By its 65-year historical past, Laguna Seca has performed host to virtually each type of motorsports, from drivers faculties and SCCA membership racing to IMSA and IndyCar. Barry Cantrell/Motorsport Photographs

The Fund reduce its involvement, although, via a five-year interval of operational modifications culminating within the sudden finish of the lengthy relationship between the County and SCRAMP in 2019, with A&D Narigi Consulting, LLC, given the track-operations contract in early 2020.

However the Fund’s mission was stored intact. Board members Carl Anderson, Greg Evans, Steve Fields, Invoice Reichmuth, Ken Schley, Ned Spieker and retired IndyCar star Danny Sullivan, employed a brand new Government Director, Dick Renard, in 2017. Three new Board members – Skip Prepare dinner, Martin Lauber and Ross Merrill – got here aboard in 2019. And, on the finish of 2020, a “misplaced yr” as a result of coronavirus and ensuing California ban on crowds, a fourth joined in: RACER founder and president Paul Pfanner.

In just some quick months, the revitalized LSRF has made important progress mirrored within the identify change from “Fund” to “Basis” extra precisely reflecting its goal. “Wanting ahead,” defined newly elected Board President Ross Merrill, “we’re striving to resume cooperation among the many County, operator, volunteers and evaluating future tasks aimed toward enhancing the ability.”

Serving to to revive Laguna Seca Raceway’s world-class luster reflecting its upscale surrounds for the advantage of followers, members, volunteers and, in fact, the neighborhood is the Basis’s very tangible objective.

In the course of the Trans Am SpeedFest weekend, RACER bought a glimpse behind the scenes, spending time with a number of of the Basis’s key gamers who struggled to include themselves detailing “subsequent yr’s mannequin” of a world-class racetrack.

For extra data on the Laguna Seca Raceway Basis, try its Fb web page or log onto lsrfnd.org.

UP NEXT IN PART 2: Ardour, with Basis President Ross Merrill

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