Driving Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca: My First Track Day!

More from our California trip! 

On Day 4, the last day of our drive up CA-1, Joe had set up a track day for us at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. So, we woke up with the sun in our Bed & Breakfast in Monterey and headed to the raceway. Because we were meeting my family in San Francisco for dinner, we could only participate in a half day. When we left midway, it was a nearly 3 hour drive from the track to drop the car at SFO. We stopped in Santa Cruz for lunch at a cute Maxfield Parrish-themed diner.  

It was my first track day! I've only ever done autocross as far as motorsports are concerned. Normally, autocross is done at slow speeds, but this was my first time getting to speeds in excess of 80 mph. And, I've never dealt with other people on the track before. I had to leave before we did the point-by drills, but I did have one point-by encounter, which is where I start my video below. 

I think the timing was just right for my first track day since our rental Mustang was an automatic. So, I was a little more comfortable driving and not worrying about downshifting my first time at speed. Though, as Joe will tell you, even in sport mode, the auto was disappointing. 

I'm used to racing in parking lots. Laguna Seca was an impressive facility with classrooms, cafe, gift shop, cushy bathrooms, bleachers...

Hooked on Driving ran the event, and I went through the A-group orientation including classroom instruction, skid pad time & brake testing, and the first on-track session with other newcomers and a coach in the car with me. My coach, Mike, was so encouraging! I wish I could've stayed for the afternoon session. I think I would've improved a bunch. The corkscrew gave me butterflies every time!

Joe had always wanted to go to Laguna Seca (as mentioned in this article from his old sponsor, Autosport Labs). We were originally planning on just squeezing it in and checking it out - maybe taking some photos. But, it just so happened that we would be passing by on an event day. So, it was too hard to resist to participate. 

I was looking up the history of Laguna Seca for this post, and I came across this great article from MotorTrend.com, which calls it North America's most iconic track:

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course in California’s beautiful central coast. While the track is a favorite of racers and fans worldwide, many focus on one specific section: officially Turns 8 and 8A or, more commonly, The Corkscrew.
— MotorTrend

We had an amazing time. Many thanks to Hooked on Driving for being so accommodating to our unusual situation!

Below: a video of some of my time on track and, for comparison, a video of one of Joe's laps:

I know I've left out some juicy details... any questions??