#128, WeatherTech Raceway adjusts to COVID-19, stays on course

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Without one vehicle negotiating its 18 percent devilish descent on turn 8 or even one engine starting, WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway has negotiated a lot of racing in recent weeks.

But it’s all been behind the scenes and against the calendar clock and uncertainty of the coronavirus.

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca gas amended its season calander and will now begin to host competition in July.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca gas amended its season calendar and will now begin to host the competition in July. Image © WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway.

Joining the ever-lengthening list of sports teams and venues, the raceway and recreation area has amended its yearly calendar with a series of rapid-fire announcements.

Barry Toepke, director of marketing and communications for the raceway, is our guest on this episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast. He discusses with co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia how the famous raceway has adjusted its season in conjunction with various national series calendars.

WeatherTech Raceway season 3 months away

With an amended schedule, raceway competition will start in July and extend through early December.

The schedule will include a rare doubleheader. With the cancellation of the Detroit Grand Prix in late May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will now also include a second race Sept. 19. It will join the previously scheduled race Sept. 20.

Likewise, because of the coronavirus, the Trans America SpeedFest and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Sea Otter Classic cycling festival, all international events, have been rescheduled. Local events, including the Twilight Cycling event and Cars & Coffee, both scheduled for late April, have been canceled.

Campers already sheltering in place can remain at their sites if rental fees are current. While the track remains closed, hiking and biking trails remain open, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We have a 500-plus acre park and people want to come out for a little respite,” said Toepke. “You see the deer and the bobcats around; there’s more wildlife. It’s quiet.”

Toepke said because of the rescheduled calendar of early in the season, the recreation area’s hillsides remain green.

“Being such a big park, there’s a lot of landscaping that needs to be done,” he said. “Without on-track activities, our team can go out a start the landscaping and clean up the weeds. When we do open our doors, hopefully in July, people are going to notice the difference, that the place looks good.”

In addition to maintenance, management had also planned to begin a track repaving project in September. But the rescheduling of the race calendar has postponed the project.

Two weeks after the MotoAmerica Superbike Superfest, the Ferrari Challenge Series is scheduled (July 23-26). It will be followed by the Monterey Pre-Reunion (Aug. 8-9), Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Aug. 13-16), Monterey SportsCar Championship (Sept. 4-6), Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (Sept. 18-20) and Trans Am Speedfest (Dec. 3-6).

The Sea Otter Classic will be held Oct. 1-4.

Spectators who have already purchased tickets to any impacted events can use their tickets on rescheduled dates. Additional ticket information is available via email: [email protected] or via the website: www.weathertechraceway.com.

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