The revitalized Laguna Seca Recreation Area, home to the iconic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course, concluded one of the most successful seasons in its 66-year history with strong attendance, completion of major construction projects, an abundance of fundraising and community events, and a new track lap record.
The year started quietly as Granite Construction and WeatherTech Raceway facility teams persevered through record rainfall. Through the support of the County of Monterey Board of Supervisors and County staff, the race surface was completely repaved, and an impressive new Start/Finish bridge constructed, which thanks to the partnership of Mission Foods, is now named the Mission Foods Start/Finish Bridge. Due to the constricted timeframe for construction, once opened, it was an exciting year with superb on-track action.
The new Mission Foods Start/Finish Bridge and a small sampling of the record crowds that attended Porsche Rennsport Reunion 7. Photo by Robert Watt.
Several professional events were held between May and October, in addition to the daily track rentals, and local community gatherings. There was the Sea Otter Classic, Trans-Am, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, MotoAmerica, AHRMA, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, NTT INDYCAR Series, Porsche Rennsport Reunion 7, and the season concluding Gridlife Festival of drifting, racing, exhibits and entertainment by two-time Grammy winning performers. Each event brought renewed attendance, new avenues of entertainment, and refined hospitality experiences.
T-Pain performing at GridLife Laguna. Photo by Marc Miramontez.
The freshly repaved surface delivered on its high grip promise during qualifying for the NTT INDYCAR Series season finale. Christian Lundgaard raced into Laguna Seca history by eclipsing the 23-year-old track record with a blistering 1:06.461 lap with an average speed of 121.226 miles per hour around the 2.238-mile 11-turn circuit. Lundgaard broke the longstanding record of 1:07.722 that was set by Helio Castroneves during his qualifying run at the 2000 CART Honda Grand Prix of Monterey.
Porsche Rennsport Reunion 7 was the largest and most dynamic event of the year, as guests descended on the 550-plus acre park. This year’s Rennsport dwarfed its previous 2018 edition with an impressive collection of historic race cars, legendary drivers, international journalists, and greater family activities. If the racing wasn’t enough, scavenger hunts, design workshops, Pixar cars, giant Hasbro Transformers, off-road adventures, an E-Sports arena and collaborative coloring book walls kept fans of all ages entertained. Rennsport guests were also were treated to the 50th anniversary kick-off reunion by the multi-Grammy winning group The Doobie Brothers.
Amid Pixar cars, Transformers, tractors and The Doobie Brothers, there was still plenty for the gear heads as Porsche revealed the all new 911 GT3 R Rennsport during the autumn event. Photo by Tony Campbell.
In addition to the flagship ticketed events, 2023 brought a new meaning for the track’s usual calendar of community events. The Cars & Coffee gatherings, which typically bring in upwards of 750 cars each time, were transformed into fundraising events for local causes and raised more than $10,000 at the four events. The return of the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot also raised more than $10,000 for the Food Bank for Monterey County. Donations from these events were made to the SPCA of Monterey County, Pajaro flood relief and CASA of Monterey County, as part of the team’s joy of giving back.
2023 by the numbers:
- 350,846 Events overall attendance
- 6,000 Charitable events (Cars & Coffees, Twilight Cycling, etc.)
- 8.6 million Int’l television & digital broadcast viewership
- 917 Domestic & International journalists’ attendance
- 9,871 Overnight campers for events and transient visitors
- 131 Track rentals
- 25 Local Service Clubs financially supported
- 300-plus Laguna Seca Volunteer Association supporters
“WeatherTech Raceway really surged to life this year,” said John Narigi, president and general manager of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “Beginning the year with unprecedented rain that caused delays in the construction schedule, our small, dedicated team did an amazing job at pulling together and creating a wonderful environment for track renters, race series, sponsors, guests and campers. Now, we are deep into planning for 2024.”
IMSA continues to be one of the fastest growing racing series in the US. Attracting a wide range of fans due to the broad and diverse classes of cars. IMSA returns in May of 2024 at the Motul Course de Monterey. Photo by Marc Miramontez.
The 2024 season schedule:
April 18-21 – Sea Otter Classic
May 2-5 – Trans Am SpeedFest
May 10-12 – Motul Course de Monterey powered by Hyundai N (IMSA)
May 17-19 – Ferrari Challenge
June 21-23 – Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (NTT INDYCAR)
July 12-14 – MotoAmerica Superbike SpeedFest at Monterey
August 10-17– Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Festival
For many, the Laguna Seca campgrounds provide a clean, safe and affordable way for guests to enjoy the Central Coast. Open daily, the campground attracts both the race fans and families visiting the area, and this year more than 9,000 people visited for a day trip to enjoy the open-air experience during non-race weekends. With direct access to the Fort Ord National Monument trails, visitors find plenty of recreational activities.