Laguna Seca renaissance, Part 3: Drive

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Picture: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Photos

The venerable 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 501c3 company, the LSRF has been rejuvenated of late with key additions to its board of administrators — males who collectively possess a transparent imaginative and prescient for WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca’s future with the vitality and wherewithal to assist safe it. Within the weeks forward, RACER will share the behind-the-scenes of this world-class raceway’s renaissance.

I walked away from a paddock dialog on the late-April SVRA Trans Am Speedfest weekend pondering the Laguna Seca Raceway Basis couldn’t have discovered a extra excellent particular person to function its Govt Director than Dick Renard.

A two-hour-long cellphone name days later confirmed it. Renard, like lots of the 11 LSRF Administrators he serves, is completely distinctive: A self-described “social gadfly,” Renard defers lots of the Basis’s administrative duties whereas specializing in the priorities of constructing belief and dealing to revive cooperation between the various totally different factions with a hand in Laguna Seca’s future.

Renard’s present is a capability to see and assist form the Basis’s drive towards these ends. A protracted-time space businessman, Dick and spouse Jan are each concerned in a number of charities, shifting in a wide range of Salinas and Monterey County social circles. By a 17-year membership and professional racing profession, he acquired a wealth of information in regards to the enterprise and the game of motor racing, and matches all that with unparalleled talent as a storyteller.

There’s no hiding his deep affection for Laguna Seca Raceway, a love that harkens again to the observe’s opening day — November 9, 1957 — and a sports activities automotive race received by Pete Pretty in a Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa.

“I at all times wished to go to the races with my dad,” Renard recalled. “However I used to be younger; my brother was seven years older and my dad at all times took him to locations like Pebble Seaside, Golden Gate Park, Moffett Discipline and Stockton.

“I pestered and pestered and pestered, and eventually, in November 1957, he took me to the primary race at this new racetrack referred to as Laguna Seca. And I acquired to see Pete Pretty win that race. A 12 months later, I used to be there to look at Chuck Daigh and Lance Reventlow — the Scarabs; Richie Ginther and Johnny Von Neumann within the Ferrari TR250 “pontoons”; Sammy Weiss, and guys like that.

“Proper then my mind went ‘click on’ and that basically drove house what I wished to do in life.”

Dick Renard

Renard’s dad Ray, or Pop, a meticulous engineer and machinist, introduced house a Corvette which father and son “constructed right into a type of a race automotive.” Dick began autocrossing it in highschool, and acquired to attend the unique Jim Russell college at Willow Springs at age 18. There the die was actually forged: Renard’s enthusiasm took him from Russell College Lotus 31s by way of Method Vee and Tremendous Vee all the best way to the Can-Am, rising as one among California’s most extremely regarded drivers. He stayed concerned through PR, advertising, gross sales and manufacturing after lastly retiring within the early 2000s, and took half in beginning Don Wester’s Indy Lights program. Wester, a well-respected former two-term SCRAMP president, opened Renard’s eyes to Laguna Seca’s slightly difficult operational construction.

SCRAMP, after all, was the non-public group created within the late Fifties to construct and handle the operations and funds of the observe previous to Monterey County’s “possession,” overseeing leisure use on the federally owned Fort Ord land.

“Wester was an enormous hero of mine lengthy earlier than I used to be racing,” Renard recalled, “particularly as he was the President of SCRAMP within the observe’s heydays — the Can-Am days in, you understand, ’69, ’70, ’71. That was proper on the time when us burgeoning Method Vee drivers have been pondering that what we did in a assist race was going to get us a Can-Am trip…”

Renard was a Professional Tremendous Vee pioneer with an immaculately ready Lola T-250.

Since changing into the Basis’s Govt Director in 2018, Renard has had an opportunity to learn by way of lots of the 60-year-old monetary paperwork.

“Curiously, SCRAMP wasn’t chartered as a 501c3 group,” Renard defined, “which meant that whereas one may donate, there was no monetary profit like a tax deduction for the donor. They might have simply re-filed to turn out to be a c3, however what they did as a substitute was spin off a sub group, initially referred to as the SCRAMP Enchancment Fund. After which it grew to become the Laguna Seca Raceway Fund. And that’s the place it caught ’til I used to be employed. We modified the identify to Basis, which higher defines our process.”

Renard’s enthusiasm for Laguna Seca and friendship with lots of the SCRAMP and County movers and shakers as a enterprise proprietor and avid golfer is what led to his involvement within the Basis right this moment.

“That’s how I acquired roped in. I acquired an e-mail from Dan Baldwin, the Govt Director of the Group Basis of Monterey County, questioning if I might be concerned with a part-time place with the Laguna Seca Raceway Fund (which I had by no means heard of). He put my identify ahead and, you understand, all people’s busy and I wasn’t actually certain in any respect what I used to be even entering into! After a little bit of time, I had a beautiful first interview with Carl Anderson, Invoice Reichmuth and Ken Schley; then acquired interviewed and elected by the entire Board; and now I’m right here.

The Corkscrew: Difficult, enjoyable, and extremely positioned on the listing of the world’s most well-known corners. Jake Galstad / Motorsport Photos

“I shortly understood you’ve acquired guys [on the Board] which have simply put their lives into this place. That was simply as Martin Lauber, Skip Prepare dinner and Ross Merrill have been approaching, and I assumed, ‘These guys know all of the principals in racing right here who’re possible donors, proper? So what’s the massive deal? Why can’t we simply exit and lift 50 or 100 million {dollars}?’ Effectively, since then, after all, I’ve discovered …”

What Renard discovered is that there’s a want for the Basis to rebuild belief.

“I feel the largest concern once I got here on board in 2018 was that the Basis was not checked out in constructive mild — or any mild, actually — by anyone,” Renard defined. “And by anyone, I imply the County or SCRAMP.

“So the massive factor for me is reconciliation — I imagine the Basis must be within the reconciliation enterprise. Laguna Seca is a small line merchandise in an enormous county that spends some huge cash. However the County nonetheless props it up financially. Wouldn’t you prefer to take that absolutely off the general public dole? Wouldn’t you prefer it to not price the general public something, however really be a profit to the general public? Wouldn’t that be the higher factor?

“Effectively, it completely may very well be. And that’s what retains me nonetheless placing my hand up and saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll serve.’ I need to see the unique character and essence come again into place.”

A friendship with the late Al Holbert offered driving and technical help on the Can-Am pinnacle of Renard’s personal racing profession.

“One of many desires is to not simply increase cash and end the observe and type of be performed with it, however to be an ongoing helpful useful resource to the group. There are such a lot of methods to do this, so some ways to provide again to the group which can be over and above monetary advantages. However … nicely, I feel a lot of it’s dependent upon the necessity to restore belief — we’ve acquired to create belief as a result of if we are able to’t then we’ll find yourself with nothing.

“So just about my ideas are proper there. I’m actually excited due to the vitality of the Board. I’m actually excited in regards to the future, about how our Board is energized for the nice of the observe, desirous to see the observe elevated to its correct place on the world stage as a racing venue. However simply as importantly, to be a facility that advantages the individuals of Monterey County right this moment and past.”

Belief. Cooperation. Fundraising. Renard and the 11-member Laguna Seca Raceway Basis board have an enormous process forward.

Fortunately, “social gadfly” Renard is there to serve the Board’s process with an countless story provide …

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

UP NEXT IN PART 4: Perseverance, with Basis Treasurer Steve Fields

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