On March 9 I was fortunate enough to get some track time at the famed Laguna Seca Raceway in Salinas, CA. It was an interesting experience to say the least, and very different from driving at Thunderhill for past events. As a key point, it was remarkably cold at the track, never getting warmer than about 55 F, making the car develop as close to full horsepower as I’ve experienced but also making the tires a bit slippery for the first few laps.
As for the actual track, it seemed, well, small. At Thunderhill there are over 3 miles of ground to cover but at Laguna Seca it is just a bit over 2 miles. That might not seem like much, but when the course is constrained and there are 25 cars on it each session, that’s not much room to move around. The biggest challenge I had was trying to find enough open road to actually hit the throttle and go. Every few turns I caught up with the crowd and was stuck at the slowest speeds I’ve ever experienced on a track.
The car variety was fairly good: lots of Corvettes and 911’s as usual. The poorest example of a track car was the Toyota Prius that showed up in my group. It drove a scorching 48 MPH on most of the course and seemed to give up after the first session, thankfully. There were some Mini Coopers, again, not the fastest thing on the track. A good collection of Audi A/RS 4’s and BMW 3’s and 5’s were also around. Some older vehicles like a Ford Mustang Mach I, some kind of strange Lotus car and some older RX7’s and vintage racers were also around. There were also two race setup Dodge Vipers in attendance. The three unique cars this day were the Ferrarri F430, the Lamborghini Gallardo and a “D” spec racer with a Kawasaki motorcycle engine in it that just tore up the track.
All in all, it was a good experience to learn the lines of a new track, get into new driving situations and generally get to feel a new track setup. The bummers were that there were way to many slow drivers in my group and the sessions were much shorter (15 mins) than they are at Thunderhill. I would probably go again but I’d want to move to a faster group. A quick view of some of the sights and sounds of Laguna Seca can be found in this short video I put together, so take a look.