Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
1021 Monterey Salinas Hwy, Salinas, CA 93908
Phone: (831) 242-8201
Official Web Site: http://www.laguna-seca.com
This track is world-renowned and we are always fortunate when we get a date to drive this great course. It's located about halfway between Salinas and Monterey, CA on State Highway 68. If we're there on weekday mornings, plan on some traffic delays on 68, as it's the main artery between the two towns. There is one main entrance off of 68 – and plan on a steep hill. If you're towing a Camaro with a Mini-van, it might not make the hill!! The track is owned by Monterey County, so while you're on the property, you will be watched closely by County Sheriffs and Park Rangers. Also – there are different sound levels allowed for different types of events. Ours will almost always be a 92db level, that is monitored by Laguna officials (we pay them to do so), and their word is final. Usually, you will get one black flag warning if you are over the limit, and they will ask you to make a repair or modification to your car before returning. If you flunk a second time, you will be black-flagged for the day. Sorry folks, no money back if this occurs. Weather can be a factor at Laguna. It is not unusual to find the mornings very chilly and foggy – even to the extent that there can be an occasional "fog hold" on the track event if all flag stations cannot be clearly seen. But, frequently by noon, you can be running around in your shorts as it can heat up during the day once the fog clears. Think: layers for Laguna.
While the classic layout has not changed, the course itself has undergone major renovations over the last two years, thanks to the MotoGP Grand Prix motorcycle race that is now held there every summer. Runoff, thankfully has been greatly increased, with many gravel traps installed as well. These traps are bad news/good news thing for us. They don't allow much margin for error, as in some places they are only a few feet off track, meaning that what might have been a harmless on/off excursion becomes a call to the tow truck. The good news is that if you go off at some speed, these traps will keep you from meeting a K wall. NOTE: It's important that everyone running Laguna find their tow hook (check your owners manual on how to tow your car) and install it if possible. More than once we've blown 15 minutes getting a car unstuck that had no tow hook. Bottom line is: keep it on the track and you'll be fine! The gate generally opens at 7:00 AM – you'll go up the hill, past the Ranger Station at the entrance, then turn right and follow the signs to the paddock. You'll sign the waiver upon paddock entry, and drive toward the row of pit suites ahead and to the right – you'll find us close to this long concrete pit suite building. If you bring a moped or motorcycle, you'll be required to wear a helmet if you leave the paddock.
Comfort Inn at Monterey Airport
1200 Olmsted Rd. Monterey, CA 93940
Closest to the track – just west on Highway 68 before you get to the Monterey Airport. This is a very nice, older lodge-type property that has big rooms... great spot but not cheap. We'd call it mid-range pricing.
The Embassy Suites
The most common host to events at Laguna. Take 68 west from the track, turn right on Canyon del Rey, go approximately 3 miles and you'll see it on the left just before you reach Highway 1. From Highway One, take the Canyon del Rey exit and it's just off the freeway to the east. It's the only tall building in the area. This is an excellent Suites hotel with a great breakfast included. They also have a nice bar and restaurant as well. In addition, they seem to be able to accommodate trailers in their parking lot.
Holiday Inn Express
1400 Del Monte Blvd, Seaside, CA
This is a pretty nice four-story hotel right next to the Embassy. Rooms have been redone with some class, so it makes a decent, very convenient location for the track attendee. Prices are mid-range. The staff is very friendly and accommodating to track folks.
Best Western De Anza
2141 North Fremont Street– Monterey, CA
At this date, we have yet to try this facility, but we know it's close to the track and we have heard solid references about it from other drivers. Do not expect a four-star here, but it should be fine. Prices are low to mid-range.
2030 North Fremont St. Monterey, CA
An affordable alternative that is super convenient to the track. This is a fifties-era motel that has been redone some years ago. But it's not all that bad and probably one of the least expensive options we can recommend.
323 Reservation Road - Marina, CA
We found this one on the internet and were very pleased. It's another 15 minutes away, but might be worth it especially if you're sharing rooms. This facility is new in 2006 and has very large rooms – big enough to have two TV's per room. Refrigerators and microwaves as well. Nicest place we've found for those on a budget – under $100 most of the time. Very little room for trailers.
We'll add to this section as time permits – but you can only imagine how many options there are in the Monterey Salinas area. If you haven't done the Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, it's a must stroll in the evening. Restaurants abound in this and the Cannery Row areas. We love Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company – it's on the water and a really fun menu – usually a few-minute wait.
New and right next to Embassy Suites. Easy to get to and good Chili's food. Busy restaurant. Take 68 West from the track, turn right on Canyon del Rey and follow for a couple of miles... it's on the left.
VERY nice California Cuisine restaurant that will impress your wife or significant other, and dent your pocketbook. Really cool place though – just west of the track on Highway 68.
Excellent Mexican food and atmosphere. A local icon – lots of gearheads and cool cars. It's in Carmel Valley. Plan 30 minutes to get there from the track. Thursday nights in the summer are very cool, with car shows, entertainment, and big crowds. Busy on weekends but you have a chance during the week.
Special note for those seeking romance while in Monterey: We have gotten to know Brian Borgia, of www.romanticroomdesigns.com. He is a very professional source for extraordinary experiences in the Monterey area. Check his website out for a complete description of this VERY unique service. Not only can his service help create an amazing environment for you and your loved one while visiting, he is also a wealth of knowledge about lodging in and around the Peninsula.