Light crowd numbers and restraints on large-scale events plague Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, causing the speedway’s potential success to fall back on hopes of attracting a new management company. But with the withdrawal of a proposal from the candidate with perhaps the most proven track record (no pun intended), the future of the raceway remains unclear.
Long a place of ups and downs as far as attendance and event functionality go — including noise limitations (hello, motorsports? It’s usually a loud ordeal), a fairly isolated location and pushback from the current managing institution— the Monterey, California raceway began its search to find a new management company to contract for the Monterey County-owned speedway.
That search took county officials to the International Speedway Corporation, the company owned by the France family — the group in control of NASCAR — that possesses 13 facilities including NASCAR staples Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
But according to the Monterey Herald, it appears that the disadvantages of managing Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca might outweigh the track’s potential for even the most well-known of management companies:
In a letter to County Administrative Officer Lew Bauman dated Sept. 14, ISC’s executive vice president and chief development officer, Craig Neeb, wrote that the firm based its decision not to submit a “formal proposal for operational management” of the raceway on the “findings following our evaluation and in light of several business factors.”
The current manager of operations at the speedway, the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, supported the search for new management in its initial stages. Soon after, the company began to push against the idea by running full-page newspaper advertisements that accused the county of holding secret talks with ISC and calling for community support in keeping the current manager around.
The county won’t give up on the potential for ISC to control speedway operations and is moving the proposal for a new managing company from the private sphere into the public for consideration, but ISC is backing off for now:
Neeb concluded his letter with the following: “ISC greatly values the historic nature of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and we want to thank the Monterey County hospitality industry for their continued support. We only wish the very best for the local community and hope Monterey County can position the renowned facility for success in today’s competitive racing environment.”
While the competitive racing environment at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca might not feature NASCAR coming to town in the near future, the county continues its search for a new speedway operator — and renewed success.
Photo credit: DW Burnett/PUPPYKNUCKLES
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