MONTEREY — The first major event is still 88 days off. Yet, all systems point to no delays to the start of the racing season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Unlike last season when the COVID-19 pandemic postponed and eventually canceled events in the spring, there have been no discussions of potential hold ups as the TransAm SpeedFest is set for April 29.
The event is one of potentially seven motorsports races slated to be held this year at Laguna Seca. Last season, only three major events were staged — all in late fall.
“People in our industry get it and understand the importance of following protocols in order to be able to continue,” said Barry Toepke, the director of marketing and public relations at Weather Tech Raceway.
Last year, the TransAm SpeedFest was postponed until Dec. 3 and was held without fans with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.
While the safety protocols remain a major part in motorsports returning, it is the hope that fans will be allowed to watch the three-day event this year.
“We don’t have assigned seating,” Toepke said. “We’re pretty spread out where people can easily social distance. You can roam the grandstands or the hills. Cross your fingers. We’re optimistic.”
It’s unlikely that fans would be allowed in the infield or paddock area, at least during the first couple of big events at Laguna Seca.
The TransAm SpeedFest is a combination of vintage cars from over five decades and new TransAms. The series brings some of the best drivers from all over the United States.
While the race was delayed roughly seven months last season, the weekend went off without a hitch in December with no pandemic related issues.
“Each series has strict virus protocols that we all adhere to,” Toepke said. ”People want to be safe. The virus is taken seriously. We’ve proven we can do this safely.”
While Toepke is waiting for final confirmation before making it official, it appears that two more events will be staged on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile world-renowned track this summer.
The next major event will be July 9-11 with the MotoAmerica Superbikes, where motorcycles can hit speeds of 190 mph. Seven classes of road racing will take center stage.
The event attracts some of the top riders in the country. Last year, five-time champion Cameron Beaubier closed out his MotoAmerica career with a pair of wins at Laguna Seca.
The anticipated return of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion event showcases vintage cars darting around the track, as part of the Classic Car Week.
For two weeks in September, Laguna Seca will have the attention of two different race series with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IndyCar Series on back-to-back weekends.
The IMSA race originally was going to be held in April. But because of national scheduling conflicts, the event at Laguna Seca was pushed back to Sept. 10-12.
IndyCars return after the pandemic forced the cancelations of the series along the West Coast last season, including Portland and Monterey.
“We’re maintaining positivity,” Toepke said. “We have to keep proceeding. We have a contingency plan for fans. We will adapt and remain flexible.”
As for the track itself, there are no plans this year to pave or resurface the facility, which is one of best maintained tracks in the nation.
“The track is in great shape,” Toepke said. “(Resurfacing is) on the books for discussion. But not for this year.”
Contributed by local news sources