NASCAR Powerhouse Could Takeover Laguna Seca Ops

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The operation of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca could be set to change hands, as Monterey County officials have confirmed that they are in negotiations with the France family’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC) to takeover operations at the rack track.

ISC should be a familiar name to NASCAR fans, as the corporation not only built Daytona International Speedway, but the company’s primary business is owning and operating NASCAR race tracks (roughly half of the NASCAR season takes place on an ISC-owned track).

Owning 13 tracks in all, ISC could add another if its deal with Monterey County goes forward, supplanting the nonprofit Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), which has operated Laguna Seca since its inception in 1957.

According to a statement by Monterey County officials, the coastal Californian track “has been exploring options for the management of the raceway to ensure its long-term success.” ISC is therefore just one of several options on the table for the county, and its running of the historic racing venue.

Since the Laguna Seca is a county public park, and thus publicly owned, any proposal would be subject to an open session where there would be an opportunity for public comment on ISC’s proposal to run Laguna Seca.

It should go without saying that this news is a tectonic movement for Laguna Seca, which has struggled lately as a venue, partially because of the nature of its public ownership.

Falling victim to the fact that a sleepy beach community grew up around the historic race track, Laguna Seca, through SCRAMP, has struggled with locals that does not want major racing events taking place in their backyard, despite the millions of dollars the race track brings to the surrounding cities and towns.

With Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca losing its MotoGP round, and its World Superbike round having meager attendance, there certainly has been pressure on SCRAMP to increase profitability, even when the county hamstrings the nonprofit organization’s efforts.

It will be interesting to see what ISC proposes as its business plan to turnaround racing at Laguna Seca, and what the public commentary on their offer will be.

In the road racing community, both two-wheels and four-wheels, ISC and the France family are not highly regarded entities. Yet, one cannot argue that they are also responsible for America’s most successful racing events.

For diehard Laguna Seca fans and long-time race goers, the move away from SCRAMP will certainly be not be welcomed, though with the track struggling, clearly something in the situation has to change…and that might just be SCRAMP itself. As always, time will tell.

Source: Monterey Herald; Photos: © 2009 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved