TodayApril 15, 2022

Politics drives Laguna Seca into the corkscrew

Laguna Seca running on politics

In the last couple of years, the government-owned property of Laguna Seca has been fraught with politics over who should manage the race track. Now the fight goes to the Board of Supervisor’s meeting. In an email received anonymously, written by SCRAMP management, they are not going down without a fight.

SCRAMP is asking for everyone’s support at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting on Tuesday, November 19, saying,
We need your support!
Call to Action
Board of Supervisors Meeting 11/19 to Support SCRAMP
Action: We are calling on all volunteers, staff, and supporters of SCRAMP to come to the Board of Supervisors meeting to share opinions and support of SCRAMP’s continued operational management of Laguna Seca Raceway

When: Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 9:00 AM

Where: Monterey County Government Center, Board of Supervisors Chambers,
168 W Alisal St., 1st Floor, Salinas, CA 93901

Media Contact:
Brandy Falconer
Communications Manager
WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca
[email protected]

After 62 years of continuous management of the Laguna Seca Raceway, the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) was advised by email by the County of Monterey Assistant County Administrative Officer (ACAO) Dewayne Woods that “the County is now in negotiations with another proposer for management services at Laguna Seca Recreational Area.”

An article in the racer, written by Marshall Pruett, doesn’t seem to hold out much hope of SCRAMP continuing management. The first paragraph opens with, “Monterey County will not extend a new contract to the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, bringing an end to SCRAMP’s management of the park that contains WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.”

“This news comes as a surprise to the SCRAMP organization,” said Tim McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and SCRAMP, who took over the position in June 2018. “We were starting to make real progress on getting the facility and the raceway operations turned around and poised for the future, but it appears at this time we may not have the opportunity to see these plans through,” continued McGrane.

“As the existing facility operator, we were stunned by the fact that we were not provided the opportunity to discuss our proposal with the ACAO. The entire process has been unconventional, ranging from the bypassing of the County’s usual Request For Proposal (RFP) process, the announcement in mid-October requesting proposals from any interested parties with only two weeks’ notice, and complaints that SCRAMP had not met deadlines to submit a proposal when in fact a submission date had been agreed upon in May, and subsequently met, has been challenging,” McGrane said.

“We have been in this position before with the County administration, but we, our fans, racing series, and teams, do have to look at the possibility of the era of SCRAMP operating Laguna Seca Raceway coming to an end,” McGrane said.

In 2015, Monterey County began private talks with International Speedway Corporation (ISC), who, after a careful review of the operational parameters of the facility, determined not to submit a formal proposal for management of the track. In 2016, the Monterey County Administrators Office entered into negotiations with another group to replace SCRAMP for 2017 but were unable to agree to terms that were mutually acceptable. The County then reverted back to a three-year agreement with SCRAMP to continue running Laguna Seca.

In 2018, the SCRAMP-run Laguna Seca Raceway attracted 263,888 attendees and generated $84.4 million in direct spending generated by event attendees over 26 days of the seven major events. 2019 saw SCRAMP orchestrate the long-awaited and highly-successful return of IndyCars to Laguna Seca, with a larger than anticipated spectator count for the weekend.

“We’ve delivered an extensive, forward-looking proposal to the County for a new, long-term 20-year management and operating agreement that incorporates solid plans for revenue generation and expense reduction, expansion of the use of existing facilities, and development of Laguna Seca into a world-class destination,” said CEO McGrane.

“We are building the right team, both paid staff, and volunteers, with extensive motorsports experience, institutional knowledge, and the dedication to lead this important Monterey County asset into a successful future. We hope we still have the opportunity to present our plans directly to the County Board of Supervisors, and we would be proud to continue SCRAMP’s 62-year stewardship of Laguna Seca on behalf of Monterey County.”

The Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, a 501(c)4 not-for-profit, was formed in 1957 by local business owners and civic leaders. SCRAMP’s goal was to raise funds needed to construct a permanent motor racing circuit to maintain the tradition of sports car racing on the Monterey Peninsula, which had begun in 1950 in the Del Monte Forest at Pebble Beach. SCRAMP is comprised of a Board of Governors, Race, and Events Committees, and hundreds of loyal volunteers who donate thousands of hours each year to ensure the successful operation of events here.

The SCRAMP organization acquired leased land from the U.S. Army at Fort Ord on August 7, 1957, and the now-legendary track, built with funds raised by SCRAMP, held its first race, the 8th Annual Pebble Beach at Laguna Seca SCCA National Championship Sports Car Road Races, on November 9 & 10, 1957. In 1974 the site was transferred from the Army to Monterey County, who, together with SCRAMP, have managed the facility through this year,” continued McGrane. “As the existing facility operator, we were stunned by the fact that we were not provided the opportunity to discuss our proposal with the ACAO.

SCRAMP’s current three-year management and operating agreement with Monterey County ends on December 31, 2019. SCRAMP currently employs a full-time professional staff of just over 40 team members.

SCRAMP is hoping all the supporters that have appreciated their management over the years will make a plea to the Board of Supervisors to work with SCRAMP.

Board of Supervisors – Monterey County

District 1 – Supervisor Luis Alejo

County of Monterey
168 West Alisal St., 2nd Floor,
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831)755-5011
Fax: (831)755-5876
[email protected]

District 2 – Supervisor John M. Phillips

County of Monterey
Castro Plaza
P.O. Box 787
Castroville, CA 95012
Phone: (831)755-5022
Fax: (831)633-0201
[email protected]

District 3 – Supervisor Chris Lopez

County of Monterey
168 W. Alisal, 3rd Floor
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831)755-5033
Fax: (831)796-3022
[email protected]

District 4 – Supervisor Jane Parker

County of Monterey
2616 1st Ave.
Marina, CA 93933
Phone: (831) 883-7570, (831) 755-5044
[email protected]

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is in District 5 and partially in District 4

District 5 – Supervisor Mary Adams

Monterey Courthouse
1200 Aguajito Rd., Ste. 1
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: (831)755-5055, (831) 647-7755
Fax: (831) 647-7695
[email protected]

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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