Event Program: 2024 Mission Foods Laguna Seca SpeedTour

Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has a wildly convoluted history. In 1867, early California settlers founded a horse and cattle ranch on Monterey Peninsula. They named it Laguna Seca—dry lagoon in Spanish—because it was located in an ancient dry lake bed.

In 1917, the U.S. Army purchased 28,000 acres bordering Laguna Seca Ranch to use for artillery training before soldiers were sent to France and World War I. In 1933, this was named Camp Ord, in honor of Union Major General Edward Otho Cresap Ord. At the beginning of World War II, the name was changed to Fort Ord, home of the 7th Infantry Division. For the next 53 years, Fort Ord was an active military base housing up to 50,000 troops, until it was closed and the land given to Monterey County.

Now back in 1950, the SCCA had organized the Pebble Beach Road Races for the Del Monte Trophy on public roads circling the famous Lodge at Pebble Beach, utilizing Portola Road, Sombria Lane, Drake Road, Stevenson Drive, Forest Lake and Ondulado. This was the era of similar “round the houses” races in Watkins Glen, Elkhart Lake, Torrey Pines and many other towns. The 1950 circuit was 1.8 miles, lengthened to 2.1 miles the following six years.

In 1956, Hollywood Ferrari dealer Ernie McAfee was killed during the Del Monte Trophy race while driving Bill Doheny’s brutish 4.4-liter Ferrari 121M. As a result, a group of local business owners and sports car enthusiasts formed the Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula. SCRAMP convinced the U.S. Army to appropriate a portion of Ford Ord for a race track, then raised $1.5 million to build a 1.9 mile circuit adjacent to Laguna Seca Ranch. The first race was held on November 9, 1957.

Since then, Laguna Seca Raceway has hosted some of the world’s greatest racing series, including USRRC, Can-Am, Trans-Am, Formula 5000, IMSA, IndyCar and MotoGP. The plunging “Corkscrew” series of downhill corners has become world famous, as famous as the racers who’ve competed at Laguna Seca, men like Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, Bruce McLaren, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Alex Zanardi and Kenny Roberts.

In April, 2019, the Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to continue the work and community commitments of SCRAMP’s Improvement Fund. LSRF’s published mission is to solicit and provide funds to improve all aspects of Laguna Seca Recreation Area for the enjoyment and benefit for all who visit this Park, as well as contribute to the benefit of the citizens of Monterey County. LSRF works directly with Monterey County, track operators and local volunteers to secure and shape the future of Laguna Seca.

Support for LSRF can manifest itself in a variety of ways: a direct donation, attendance at Laguna Seca events, volunteering at the track, spreading the word in your community or even just liking the LSRF page on Facebook.  

There is a critical need for fundraising,” says Ross Merrill, past president Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation. “The county and track operators are focused on things like drainage, water, electricity. LSRF is ready to help generate revenue that can be reinvested into the facility infrastructure. Once all that is done, we can work on raising funds for specific projects that elevate the visitor experience at Laguna Seca.”

“So many things make Laguna Seca special…its location, its history, its access, its weather and its proximity to the world-class amenities on Monterey Peninsula. We’re focused on the track, itself, but we’re also looking at improving things like campgrounds, hiking trails and the shooting range. We want Laguna Seca to be one of the best racing experiences in the nation, maybe the world!”