WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is not and will never be closed down to turn it into a housing development.
A call came into Roadracing World Wednesday, and the caller mentioned a rumor they had heard that the historic road course on the California coastline was shutting down immediately to be turned into a housing development.
If true, this news would have had huge implications. Not only does the 63-year-old racetrack have a full, albeit delayed schedule of major motorsports events, (including IMSA, Indycar, and MotoAmerica races), Monterey County, which owns the land the racetrack sits on, just entered a controversial new contract with A&D Narigi Consulting, LLC to manage the facility through 2023.
Roadracing World investigated the rumor and found it to be untrue, with absolutely no basis in fact.
“No, it’s not going to close down, and no, it’s never going to be a housing development,” said Gill Campbell, who served as CEO and General Manager for Laguna Seca from 2001 to 2017. “The reason for that is the deed dictates what that property can be used for.”
The land that Laguna Seca resides on was originally a privately-owned ranch dating back to 1867. In 1917, the U.S. Army acquired the land and turned it into Fort Ord. In 1957, the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) leased land from Fort Ord for the purpose of constructing a dedicated road course where they could relocate the Pebble Beach Road Races.
In 1974, the U.S. Army deeded the land over to Monterey County, transferring ownership, and it’s that deed that safeguards the racetrack.
“The deed states that it can never be sold,” continued Campbell. “That’s why there’s not a lease in place for it because it cannot be leased or sold. It is the property of the County and they are restricted by that deed.”
For confirmation, Roadracing World reached out to Monterey County, and Assistant County Administrative Officer Dewayne Woods confirmed Campbell’s information.
“Back in the day when the land was granted over, that was written in the deed because there was an Army base there before,” Woods told Roadracingworld.com. “So yeah, that is in the deed. I’m sure the Feds don’t have that issue now [that Fort Ord is closed], but it would take a deed change. But the reality is that’s not where the County is going and never was or never even thought about it.
“The County is clear. Not only do we want to value the history and make sure the track is there for future generations, it is a huge part of our regional economy. As Gill Campbell says, ‘Lots of places have football stadiums. Laguna Seca is our football stadium.’”
While the COVID-19 pandemic and safer-at-home orders have put motorsports on hold worldwide since March, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has found new ways to utilize and market itself, such as recently hosting drive-thru graduation ceremonies for seven local high schools.
“They were wonderfully received by the community,” said Woods. “It was great to be able to do that for the kids who graduated and had to endure the stay-in-place situation. Plus, having that many families locally and that many young kids locally explore and drive around the track through their final victory lap hopefully what it does is it engenders for generations to come a love of that track locally.”