Laguna Seca woes: COVID-19 concerns prompt IndyCar scratch

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As has already occurred several times in recent months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, another event automotive has been erased from this season’s scheduled at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

This time, it’s the Grand Prix of Monterey doubleheader scheduled Sept. 18-20.

The IndyCar Series announced the cancellation July 27 while also conducting further business. Raceway officials are in negotiations to extend the current open-when racing’s contract with series organizers.

IndyCar racing will return to Laguna Seca Raceway in 2019.
Another race has been scratched from this season’s schedule at WeatherTech Raceway, the Grand Prix of Monterey.

Laguna Seca Raceway event calendar shrinks again

IndyCar also canceled the Grand Prix of Portland, scheduled Sept. 11-13 in Oregon. The series will replace its West Coast swing with doubleheaders scheduled at existing events. The most recent event took place July 18-19 at Iowa Speedway.

“INDYCAR loves racing in Monterey County and everyone wishes this year’s circumstances were different,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles in a press release. “The leadership team behind the Grand Prix of Monterey has been a strong partner throughout this process and we’ve appreciated their diligence and commitment to the event and our series. Fans can rest assured we look forward to returning in 2021.”

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved a three-year contract with the IndyCar Series in 2018 for the county-owned WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to host IndyCar races through 2021.

Negotiations are in “serious discussions,” according to a report in the Monterey Herald.

The Herald also noted the County of Monterey paid $1.5 million in sanctioning fees for the canceled 2020 event.

Laguna Seca held IndyCar races from 1983-2004 as part of the CART/Champ Car World Series. Sonoma Raceway began hosting the IndyCar series in 2005. The Champ Car series merged with IndyCar in 2008.

Alex Zanardi overtook Herta on the final lap on in the Corkscrew in 1996. The dramatic maneuver is known as “The Pass.” Mario Andretti drove in his final Indy event at the raceway in 1994.

The Ferrari Challenge Series is now the first event on the raceway’s calendar, Sept. 24-27.

Tickets are on sale for the remainder of the season’s events: The Ferrari Challenger (Sept. 24-27), MotoAmerica Superbike SpeedFest (Oct. 23-25), Monterey Sports Car Championship (Oct. 20-Nov. 1) and Trans Am SpeedFest (Dec. 3-6).

All of the remaining events were originally scheduled at earlier dates.

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