WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
For the third time in four years, the Amgen Tour of California visits Monterey County at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The 2018 race finished Stage 3 here with a surprise win and jiving celebration by Toms Skujiņš. The 2019 edition will start an epic Stage 4 on the track before heading down Highway 1 through Big Sur. The Laguna Seca track is instantaneously recognizable to motor sports race fans. According to the Los Angeles Times, the track is known as “one of the most important race facilities in American motor sports.” Internationally, it is regarded as “one of the world’s most technically challenging race venues.” The combination of these mystic and technical allures, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is a world-class facility that draws the biggest names in Formula 1 and Superbike racing. For spectators, the raceway sits a mere six miles inland from charming Monterey Bay, combining the best of a marine atmosphere with the distinctive California central coast bronze tree-dotted hilly landscape.
Racing at Laguna Seca started sixty-one years ago in 1957. The previously held Pebble Beach Road Races became too dangerous, prompting the community to create a dedicated track facility. In fact, even today the track is a Monterey County Park operated by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula. One of the course’s signature characteristics is “the corkscrew.” A quick left into a right is topped by an 18% slope that results in a total drop of 59 feet. Coming off a long straightaway, racers are forced to slow from speeds of 130 to 50 miles per hour just to stay in competition. This dive in elevation is then augmented by another drop of 109 feet before the next turn. The result is a windy and undulating course that demands the most of its riders before crowning a champion. The eleven-turn, 2.238-mile course hosts five annual world-class race events, including the exhilarating Superbike World Championships.
Monterey County has plenty of other adventures to offer race fans. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is cited as one of the world’s pre-eminent aquariums. In fact, the Aquarium is just the latest in a legacy tied to the sea. The Spanish first set eyes on Monterey Bay in 1542, but it took explorers more than two hundred years to return and establish the presidio stronghold and mission. While Junipero Serra founded the Carmel Mission to take advantage of prime farmlands, the Presidio of Monterey overlooked the crucial Monterey Bay. Thus, Monterey became one of California’s most important ports. Fishing and canneries exploded into the early 20th century, resulting in distinctive places like Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf. Both are now must-see attractions that convey the seafaring heritage and importance of Monterey. Stroll the wharf to sample sumptuous clam chowder before boarding a whale watching cruise or relax along Cannery Row while visiting the Aquarium. If those don’t fit the bill, Monterey County has plenty of other adventures to thrill any enthusiast.