After a 15-year absence, IndyCar racing will return to the Monterey Peninsula in 2019 with the series finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas.
A three-year agreement was approved July 16 by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the operation of the facility. Next year’s race will be held Sept. 22 and succeed the current season-ending event in Sonoma Raceway. It will end a 14-year run.
Dates for the remainder of the 2019 IndyCar season were not announced.
Laguna Seca hosted CART Indy cars from 1983 through 2004. The famed track opened in 1957, but Indy cars didn’t race on the course until 1983 when Teo Fabi was victorious. Bobby Rahal won at Laguna Seca the next four years.
The return of Indy cars to Laguna Seca is contingent on several track upgrades. According to the draft agreement, among the modifications at least 60 days prior to the 2019 event:
An extended taper to the leading end of the sausage curbs; a cement slab behind the existing curbs at the Corkscrew; a bolt-down curb behind the existing curb at Turn 7 throughout the entire length.
Additional mandatory improvements include: Gravel beds must be smooth with no more than 3-inch variation in height; All tire walls will be covered by a conveyor belt; Two additional rows of tires will be added to Turns 2, 5, 6, 8 and 10.
Further, a debris fence will be added along the front straight “to cover the bridge pillars if required once the new bridge is completed”; More debris fences will be added to Turns 2, 4-5, 5, 6 and 8; a minimum of two cables will be attached to all existing debris fences, bringing cables to a total of five.
And, finally, when the track gets resurfaced for the 2020 race, more pavement added to the outside of Turn 2.
Article Last Updated: July 17, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
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An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.