We know many new companies are always 100% focused on making money because, well, that's the point right? Also, startup costs can be huge. Our alignment & tire machine, tools, rent, insurance, payroll, taxes....it all adds up and survival in the Bay Area depends on being able to keep up. That said, we can't keep up with these expenses if we don't have happy customers. We don't have happy customers if we don't have a happy team. We know the heart of any service auto shop is in the mechanics. Therefore, we find it important that we take time out of our schedule to get together outside of the shop and have some fun.
So, we decided to close the shop Friday, April 29, rent an Airbnb in Monterey to BBQ and go out for dinner. Then, on Saturday, we went to Laguna Seca. Not for just another trackday with normal cars and normal people (haha)....but for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix!!
I've been to Laguna Seca probably over 10 times for trackdays. We are lucky to live in the Bay Area and be so close to one of the most famous tracks in the nation. During trackdays, I've noticed that the many buildings there are closed, signs that say "Beer and Beverages," and other evidence of a good time....yet I've never had the opportunity to experience it. Now, I had no clue about this event or how big it was. Jon mentioned it to me and, just coming back from Laguna for a trackday, I was thinking, "No thanks, I'll stay home. Don't want to go to Laguna for a while." Boy, was I a doofus and could have missed on the BEST 'car' event I've ever been to!
If you're curious about the race schedule, click here to view it. By the way, we paid for general admission which includes access to the paddock. Didn't know you can get so up close and personal to the teams.
Getting to the track was simple because our Airbnb was close. But it was a completely different view because we had to access the track from South Boundary Road and park in the hilly grass and dirt (instead of going up the hill to park in the paddock). Unfortunately, our customer's Lotus Elise couldn't handle hills and rocks so he had to park somewhere else.
I've always known Laguna was a pretty big track but it didn't really feel that big until I went to this event. I knew of the many different spots to view the track but it never felt as lively and exciting as it did at this event. Each location had it's own special feel with unique characteristics. It was hard to stay in one place, and I'm glad we didn't.
We went up to view the corkscrew (the trail closest to the track on the left) and stopped in the middle of the hill to view some of the races and relax there for a while. I liked this spot because it was shady, not too many people, and we were so close to the track. We even got to see a Miata spin out and then save it at the end. Also, it was the best view for photos of cars coming down the corkscrew, especially if you wanted to get the "Mazda" bridge in your photos.
Top of Corkscrew
We walked a little higher up the hill which seemed like the more popular spot. A lot more people sitting around, beer and food stalls, and bathrooms. Also, this was a much different view of the corkscrew, as you can see the first part where it starts to dip, which looked as steep as it feels! Never seen it from this angle before and it was pretty cool, although felt farther from the track.
View of Turn 2, 3, 4 and 9,10, 11
Once on the top of the hill, if we got tired of viewing the corkscrew, all we had to do is turn around and we got the view of almost the entire other half of the track!! If you start from the left, you see turn 2, 3, and 4. As you pan to the right, you see all the tents on the paddock and then get a great view of the cars coming down the corkscrew and going through turn 9, 10, and 11. Amazing view!
Bleachers by Turn 4
We spent some time on the bleachers by turn 4 as well. This was a good spot because you could see where some drivers get a little wobbly coming out of turn 3 and some that accidentally go off the track on turn 4. I've seen a bad accident here and a couple minor ones during trackdays but nothing bad happened this time except a lambo going off.
The paddock had a completely different vibe than the various viewing spots around the track. When we pitcrewed for Ten Pedal Motorsports during the Formula Car Challenge, I thought the paddock was so alive! Well, it was nothing compared to this event. Multiple food and drink stalls and many different vendors with free swag and games. There were golf carts, pitcrew carts, and racecars passing by everywhere.
I couldn't believe how up close and personal you could get with the race teams on the paddock. So much action and excitement everywhere!
Land Rover Test Drive
At the Land Rover booth, they had a course set up for test drives. I've went off-roading before, and hated it, so not sure why I was so excited to jump in the car as a passenger while our customer drove. If you view the video below, you can tell I don't completely trust the driver or the car (lol).
Tire Change Challenge
At the Continental Tire booth, they had a tire changing challenge. This was a fun competition between the guys, although their timers kept messing up. Either way, none of them beat the fastest time.
This event was so much fun that we had to make it a yearly tradition....in addition to SEMA!