The Monterey Peninsula’s love affair with world-class racing
traces its beginnings to the inaugural running of the Pebble
Beach Road Races in 1950. Those sports car events quickly outgrew
the public roads of the Del Monte Forest and a beautiful new road
racing facility was born on November 9, 1957.
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.
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
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-Am, Superbike World Championship
and MotoGP motorcycle races and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports
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-mile length to its
current 2.238-mile length, plus the relocation of pedestrian
bridges and embankments, and the expansion of gravel pits for
The original media center was demolished in 2006 and replaced by
the Red Bull Energy Center, a modern entertainment facility with
commanding views of the facility.
Perhaps one of the most famous moments of racing took place at
the Corkscrew when Alex Zanardi passed Bryan Herta on the inside
of the Corkscrew on the last lap of the 1996 CART race to take
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile jewel of a
road course on California’s beautiful central coast. While the
track is a favorite of racers and fans worldwide, many focus on
one specific section—officially Turns 8 and 8A—or more commonly
known as The Corkscrew.
The Corkscrew is a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports. Here’s what
makes the hard-left, hard-right combination so spectacular:
At the apex to Turn 8 (the lefthander and entry to The
Corkscrew), the elevation change is a 12 percent drop. By
the time a race car reaches the apex of Turn 8A (the
righthander), the elevation is at its steepest – an 18 percent
drop. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of
Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A—the equivalent of a 5½ story
drop—in only 450 feet of track length. From Turn 8 to Turn
9, the elevation falls 109 feet, or just over 10 stories.
Pete Lovely won the first race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
November 9, 1957 driving a 500 Ferrari Testa Rosa.
Stirling Moss won the first Pacific Grand Prix and was the only
Steve McQueen was entered in a Formula Junior race until his
Cooper had serious engine problems and he could not start the
1962 – Pacific Grand Prix had a starting grid of
Roger Penske, Bruce McLaren, Innes Ireland, Dan Gurney, Graham
Hill, Jim Hall and Jack Brabham.
1963 – Jim Clark made his only appearance at
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the Arciero Bros. Lotus 19 and led
the USRRC Championship road race until he had to pit with
steering and brake problems after 31 laps.
1965 – A young, almost unknown Jackie Stewart
makes his U.S. debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca driving in the
USRRC in a factory Lotus Cortina and finished 13th overall.
1966 – First Can-Am race has Jim Hall, Phil
Hill, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Mark Donahue,
Denis Hulme, John Surtees, George Follmer, Parnelli Jones and Sam
Posey on the starting grid in various Chaparrals, Lola T70s and
Phil Hill gave Chaparral its only victory in the Can-Am series
Bruce McLaren won the first Monterey Grand Prix Can-Am Race here
1972 – Cal Rayborn riding a Harley Davidson was
the winner of the first AMA national race run at Mazda Raceway
1973 – NASCAR came to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
for the Grand National West Tour. Mark Donahue was the winner of
the last Can-Am race.
1974 – Kenny Roberts riding a Yamaha scores the
first of his many wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the
Kawasaki Superbike International.
1975 – Mario Andretti in a Lola T332 wins the
Monterey Grand Prix featuring the F5000 series.
1981 – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosts its first
NASCAR race with the Winston West and has Bobby Allison on the
grid. Paul Newman races in the Monterey Triple Crown in a Datsun
1983 – The first CART Indy Car race was held
with Teo Fabi winning in a March-Cosworth. Kenny Roberts, Eddie
Lawson, Mike Baldwin and Randy Mamola, four motorcycling legends
at the top of their game and on equal machinery, race together at
the champion Spark Plus 200.
1984 – Bobby Rahal captured the first of his
four consecutive CART victories at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Kenny Roberts had won 3 world championships, 32 AMA national
wins, 24 Grand Prix wins and 7 wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
1988 – The track was lengthened from 1.9 to
2.214 miles and then to 2.238. The change was accomplished
by creating two more turns, carrying the track into the lake area
and back out to rejoin the old course at what is now Turn 5. The
straightaway was lengthened from Turn 11 to the start/finish
line. This was done to accommodate the International Motorcycle
1988 – USGP returns to the U.S. after a 20-year
absence and the first USGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race
was won by Eddie Lawson who was riding against Kevin Schwantz,
Wayne Rainey, Mike Baldwin and Randy Mamola.
1989 – Wayne Rainey won from pole in his first
of three USGP wins in a row for him at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
1990 – Wayne Rainey’s second consecutive win at
the USGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca helped propel him to his
first of three World Championships in 1990.
Sidecar road racing hit a high point with the inclusion of the
World Championship for sidecars at the USGP. The sidecar engines
were limited to 500 cc two strokes. Seen in person, the
three-wheeled marvels were big fan favorites as they negotiated
1992 – Michael Andretti wins his second Indy Car
race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Mario Andretti was third,
making it the second year in a row that both Andretti’s were on
1994 – Mario Andretti makes this CART race his
last race and retires.
1995 – The track hosts the World Superbike
Championship (WSB) for 10 successive years. The first American
rider to win WSB at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was John Kocinski
who took victory on a Ducati in 1996.
1996 – On the last lap of the CART race, Alex
Zanardi overtook Bryan Herta in The Corkscrew with an
unprecedented and unforgettable move now known as “The Pass.”
1997 – The FIA GT Championship comes to Mazda
Raceway Laguna Seca with Mercedes, Porsches and Gulf McLarens.
2004 – The last time for a World Superbike race
when Australian Chris Vermeulen scored a double win.
After the season ended, numerous track modifications were done
including the widening of turns 9, 10 and 11 to accommodate
2005 – MotoGP returns to Mazda Raceway with
American Nicky Hayden winning the race and then taking is father
around the track on the back of his bike.
This year also marks the first time that the Rolex Grand–Am
Sports Car Championships is at the track.
2008 – At the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix,
Valentino Rossi overtakes Casey Stoner in The Corkscrew to win
the race. It is very similar to Zanardi’s pass. It is Rossi’s
first win in the U.S. and he celebrates by kissing The Corkscrew
in front of 150,000 screaming fans.
There is so much to see and do when visiting Mazda Raceway Laguna
Seca, whether it’s making a quick overnight stop to see a race,
or if you’re making a weekend of it and checking out all the cool
attractions in the Monterey County area.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca offers some of the coolest apparel in
all of motor racing, from wind-breakers and sweatshirts, to ball
caps and jackets. Be sure to visit the track souvenir store
and make your choice.
There are numerous ways to get your brand noticed through a
marketing and advertising program with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,
either through a custom-built official partnership all the way up
to an event title sponsorship.