Laguna Seca

140502_0395The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series showed up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey over the first weekend this May. So did I, Airstream and all. Monterey County Parks department has a couple hundred old campsites nestled within the coastal live oak trees which surround the racetrack. My campsite looked all the way to Monterey out the back and it was 50 yards from my folding camp chair that looked over the track. Perfect.

The Tudor USCC is a new series in professional auto racing. Well, it actually is two previously existing racing series blended into a single “united” championship. TUDOR is a brand of wrist watches, or something equally beyond my price range, providing the hefty series sponsorship fee. It’s the same as the Sprint Cup, Nationwide series, and Camping World series in NASCAR racing.

Flying Lizard R8

Flying Lizard R8

The TUDOR USCC is the current combination of the Rolex Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series of professional road racing series championships. The minds behind the scenes of those two organizations realized they were much more attractive to the television folks as one series rather than two. Two lightly viewed racing series would supposedly create one moderately viewed series. A good idea in the board room, I suppose.

By the end of the weekend, there were winners in the Ferrari Challenge, the Barber Miata  series, the Porsche GT3 Cup, the four or five or six categories of USSC racing, and probably more I’m not recalling. It was three days packed with racing, practice, qualifying, autograph sessions, paddock strolling, great sounds, and really cool cars – lots of cool cars. It was a slice of heaven. The weather was great, too, as were the sunsets.

Laguna Seca is between Salinas and Monterey in a spectacularly beautiful section of California’s central coast. The drive over the Sierra Nevada range, across the San Joaquin valley, up and over the Coast Range, and through John Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas was 284 wonderful miles each way. It took six hours one way. The Mercedes-Benz diesel engine in the 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled my rather portly 25′ Airstream with little effort all while delivering 14.5 MPG. Pretty good, huh?

Racing gets in some people’s souls and I’m going to head to Monterey again next year.