Track news: Funding approved for Laguna Seca upgrades, work begins (3rd Update)

Laguna Seca’s pit straight bridge has been demolished as part of upgrades which include a full resurface.

A new, wider bridge will be installed in its place ahead of the 2023 motorsport season, when the Californian circuit will again host the final race of the IndyCar Series, on the weekend of Sunday, September 10.

Laguna Seca-bridge Demolition
Bridge gone

July 29, 2022 

The County of Monterey Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted to approve the project budget of $14,902,198 and directed staff to proceed with replacing the start/finish bridge and resurfacing the 2.238-mile road course at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Owned by the County of Monterey, the investment represents the Supervisors’ deep commitment to ensuring the long-term future of the internationally known facility. Granite Construction was awarded the project.

In making the presentation before the Board, Randell Ishii, Director of Public Works, Facilities, and Parks; and Bryan Flores, Chief of Parks, illustrated the economic benefits of completing the two projects in unison. The start/finish bridge is reaching the end of its lifespan and requires replacement for public safety while also enhancing future revenue opportunities.

John Narigi, President and General Manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, praised the public works, facilities and parks staff for their support and management, whose department assumed oversight of the Laguna Seca Recreation Area late last year.

“Mr. Ishii and Mr. Flores expertly presented the scenarios for what this facility needs to keep it among the elite tracks in the world and for the betterment of Monterey County residents and businesses,” Narigi said. “Their expertise and commitment to the Laguna Seca Recreation Area is what delivered this project from conception to implementation. They and the Board of Supervisors are owed a major round of applause.”

In April, the Board of Supervisors approved an estimated cost of $9,725,000 for the two critical projects. But because of the unprecedented worldwide influences of increased transportation and petroleum costs, the cost of the project came in well over the estimate.

“I will admit that I was very concerned the increased costs that were completely out of anyone’s control might negatively affect proceeding with the project,” Narigi added. “The Supervisors’ questions and concerns for the increased funding was evident, but they also knew how important Laguna Seca is to the Monterey County economy, impacting our local retail and hospitality industries and the non-profits which support operational needs during event weeks. Their support is the strongest voice the Laguna Seca Recreation Area has received and indicates their commitment to a bright, multi-use future for the park.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in November that will close the racing surface. The campgrounds will remain open daily and there are many activities being planned that will utilize WeatherTech Raceway for both non-racing and non-motorsport events. The Paddock and Hagerty Marketplace will be open to a wide variety of activities that can be held while construction is occurring.

April 28, 2022 

Press Release from track confirming our earlier report:

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved $9.7 million in funding for crucial repairs at the legendary WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca, the only major track in the United States that is government owned.

Work that will be done includes resurfacing the iconic track and replacing the Start/Finish Bridge.

Late last year, the Board approved $450,000 for the design work for these projects. The County of Monterey Public Works, Facilities and Parks Department and the County’s Laguna Seca Recreation Area management firm, A&D Narigi Consulting LLC., are working with design consultants to complete plans, formalize the bid package, and acquire any necessary permits. Plans are to have the work completed in time for the 2023 racing season.

The financing for the project is composed of available Laguna Seca Enterprise Fund balance, some unassigned General Fund balance, a County-funded loan that will be paid back through Transient Occupancy Tax revenue over the next several years, and income from sponsorships.

“Laguna Seca has been an asset to our county and an asset to our region because events there bring in major revenue and they do keep people working in restaurants, hotels and other tourism related businesses,” says Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo. “This is an amount less than $10 million that we have delayed for so long, we have kicked the can down the road. We know that with some recent litigation, it’s only a matter of time before there is an injury that would cost us millions of dollars by neglecting our duty to do this maintenance.”

Supervisor Mary Adams, whose district includes the raceway, supported the project funding as an investment not only for safety but in Monterey County’s tourism industry.

“The track has been neglected far too long, and if we are going to continue to compete in the world market of racing where we get international coverage, and that international coverage is what brings people to our county.”

Included in the approval is a plan for setting aside future Laguna Seca Recreation Area earnings into a special capital projects fund to prepare for future capital needs.

April 28, 2022 

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved funding for a collection of upgrades at its aging Laguna Seca property.

“The Monterey County Board of Supervisors permitted $9.7 million in funding for essential repairs on the legendary WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

The initial two key upgrades are the “start and finish” bridge and a resurfacing of the race track at a cost of about $9.8 million. The replacement bridge that crosses the racetrack from the outside of the track over to the inside and paddock areas, and track resurfacing are both long overdue, Narigi said.

The Board of Supervisors has voiced general agreement that the 50-year-old “start and finish” bridge is dilapidated with dry rot and mold, and needs replacing. A proposed project scope from the Monterey architectural firm The Paul Davis Partnership put the demolition cost at around $100,000 and the new bridge at about $4.7 million.

“The County of Monterey Public Works, Services and Parks Division and the County’s Laguna Seca Recreation Space administration agency, A&D Narigi Consulting LLC., are working with design consultants to finish plans, formalize the bid package deal, and purchase any needed permits. Plans are to have the work accomplished in time for the 2023 racing season.”