Why Motor Trend Chooses Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Motor Trend is blessed to be headquartered in Los Angeles, California, for all the obvious reasons: We have the ocean, the mountains, Hollywood, fantastic weather year-round, and access to some of the best driving roads in the country as well as world-class racetracks within a few hours’ drive.
So why do we venture north more than 300 miles, several times a year, to test and shoot at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca? The editors, photographers, and video producers at Motor Trend explain:
Brakes. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is harder on brakes than almost any other track in the world. It’s a real brake test that has exposed plenty of cars as not fully track-worthy. The Lamborghini Aventador and Shelby GT500 leap to mind.
Beauty. Most racetracks are in less than ideal locations. There’s one that I’ve described often as “driving through the apocalypse.” MRLS is gorgeous and makes for more compelling photos and video.
Elevation. Let’s be honest, flat tracks are no fun.
Fun to Drive. Perhaps an overlooked aspect of racetracks these days, but MRLS doesn’t feature needless off-camber, blind, downhill, decreasing radius corners just for the sake of complexity. It’s still challenging — Turn 1 and the Corkscrew take years to master — but it’s also accessible. I really appreciate that rank amateurs and seasoned veterans alike can get something useful out of MRLS.
Jonny Lieberman, Senior Features Editor
I second Jonny’s point about the track being beautiful. The elevation is varied, which makes for a good selection of images to be made. The surrounding environment is nicer to look at than the other tracks that are cheaper or closer to the office.
Julia LaPalme, Photo Editor
Corkscrew. Otherwise it’s another nice track.
Kim Reynolds, Testing Director
I’ll add heritage to that list. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a world-class venue that would likely rank in the top 10 of most enthusiasts’ favorite circuits. IMSA, CART (Indy), Moto GP, AMA, SCCA, Can-Am, Trans Am, and ALMS (now Tudor series) have all found space for MRLS on their schedules at various times. That really validates the place as a serious track.
Rory Jurnecka, Associate Editor
Every great video builds towards a natural climax, and the iconic Corkscrew provides a fitting dramatic centerpiece for any video or hot lap we shoot at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Mike Suggett, Vice President/Executive Producer, Original Programming, Motor Trend YouTube Channel
Prestige. More than a few of us grew up driving at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in our Gran Turismo and Forza video games.
Christian Seabaugh, Associate Editor
To Christian, Rory, and Kim’s point, a lot of it is history. All you have to do is say “Corkscrew” to a car enthusiast and they’ll immediately know what you’re talking about. I hate the word “iconic” as I think it’s thrown about far too casually, but it applies to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s an internationally renowned track, and for good reason. It’s more than just the Corkscrew—it’s a thoroughly challenging course for both the driver and the car, and an excellent test of all of a car’s dynamic capabilities. To be fast at MRLS, a car has to have everything: power, brakes, handling, balance, and durability. And, you know, MRLS is beautiful.
Scott Evans, Associate Editor
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the cleanest-looking track we visit, with nicely painted rumble strips and a green backdrop. Turn 11 is always a great shot, with a car sliding sideways onto the straight, hooking up, and taking off towards the finish line.
Levi Rugg, Creative Director, Original Programming, Motor Trend YouTube Channel
It is, quite simply, America’s Nürburgring Nordschleife. True, it’s not as long or impossible to memorize as Germany’s storied track, but it presents equal challenges and elevation changes. While it is also younger than the German track, it is similarly steeped in history and legend. And just as GM’s “Lutzring” proving ground handling track includes Nordschleife features like the carousel, MRLS’ famed Corkscrew is replicated in European proving-ground tracks like the one where Porsche tests new Macans at its Leipzig factory.
Frank Markus, Technical Director
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has provenance, a long history as one of the very best tracks since the beginnings of closed-circuit road racing in this country. Draped across a scenic Monterey mountaintop, its twisting inclines and plunges expose the worst and the best of the high-performance machines we evaluate here.
Randy Pobst, Professional Racer and Motor Trend contributor
So there you have it. We don’t test our cars and film our epic productions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca because it’s cheap or easy to get to; we go because it’s an iconic, demanding, and thoroughly gorgeous racetrack that is steeped in history, professionally run, and globally significant. And the Corkscrew doesn’t hurt, either.