Seems like half the population is cranked up on Red Bull these days. So it’s fitting that the Red Bull United States Grand Prix featuring the MotoGP World Championship (RBUSGP) is by far the most popular of the adrenaline-fueled race events staged at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
During last year’s event, 140,250 fans swarmed into the raceway. That’s more people than attended all four of the other race events held at Laguna Seca in 2008 combined. It’s one of 17 stops on the wildly popular MotoGP tour that stages races all over the globe.
“MotoGP is huge,” says Gill Campbell, CEO/General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In some European venues, typical attendance approaches a quarter million. “It rivals Formula One racing. It’s a major, major motor sporting event.” And it’s a boon for the Peninsula. All told, Campbell says, the Laguna Seca season generates $200 million in revenue for the community—and half of that comes during the RBUSGP.
What’s the big deal? Well, in a nutshell, going to the races is lot of fun. Laguna Seca enjoys some of the best weather to be had in Monterey County. In July, chances are the sun is beaming brightly on the shiny chrome and fiberglass racing machines screaming around the 2.238-mile track. And that’s where the adrenaline comes in. Laguna Seca is a difficult road course and challenges even the world’s best riders.
It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. It’s loud. Just like a motorcycle.
In addition to the MotoGP races, the Red Bull-sponsored weekend features American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Superbike and SuperSport races. The Peninsula has a local favorite in this game.
“You have to be in top physical shape to be in road racing,” says Carmel Valley’s Hawk Mazzotta. “The top riders are among the finest athletes in the world.” At 26, Mazzotta is in his third year of professional motorcycle racing and now rides in the AMA 1,000 CC Superbike class.
Growing up on a northern California cattle ranch, “I was always on some kind of bike,” he says. When he moved to the Peninsula, Mazzotta visited Laguna Seca and an instructor gave him a ride around the track on the back of his bike. “I was hooked.” His racing skills progressed quickly.
This is not a guy who does anything halfway. “I pursued it pretty hard,” he says. Today he rides for Team Aussie Racing. It’s not an easy life.TeamAussie provides the machinery, but Mazzotta has to fly himself to the races and foot his tire bill—up to $1,500 a weekend.
Ultimately, his goal is to get a place on a factory team where riders are on salary. “You still have to perform, though,” he says. This is a highly competitive game: there’s always someone on your tail, eyeing your spot. Mazzotta isn’t one of those guys zipping around mountain roads and splitting lanes on the freeway. “Road riding is way dangerous,” he says. “Once you’ve been on a track, you’re spoiled anyway.”
An added bonus to attending a MotoGP race at Laguna Seca is the fact that race fans can actually hang out with their heroes. “There is nowhere else on the circuit where you can buy a paddock pass and mingle with the racers,” Campbell says. Why? “We brought MotoGP back to America so they think we’re pretty special,” she grins.
All in all, this will be an exciting time for lovers of world-class motorcycle racing. And for this Independence Day weekend, the eyes of the world will be on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “It’s exposure for the Peninsula that can’t be obtained any other way,” says Campbell.
For more information and tickets, go to www.mazdaraceway.com or call 800/327-7322.