Ask any of the riders in the MotoAmerica Series which race they’d want to win if they had to name just one, and chances are the response would be the same: Laguna Seca. Or, more accurately, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has a history that runs deep, most notably when it comes to motorcycle racing. And with that history comes memories. All sorts of memories, depending on your age and… well your memory.
How about Kenny Roberts in the 1970s wheelieing a TZ750 out of the final corner, which was turn nine back then and is now turn 11, with Randy Mamola or Freddie Spencer in tow? Or Anthony Gobert and Ben Bostrom winning World Superbike races as American wildcards? Two-stroke 500cc GP bikes screaming down the Corkscrew with men like Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan at the controls? Rainey winning three U.S. GPs in a row? How about Nicky Hayden winning his first U.S. GP in 2005 and lapping the circuit with his father Earl riding shotgun?
The arrival of Grand Prix racing to Laguna came in 1988, with Eddie Lawson aptly winning that first U.S. GP in Monterey. The GP stuck around until 1993 and then left, returning in 2005 with the howling four-strokes of MotoGP, ridden by the likes of Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner.
For over 40 years, AMA Superbikes have also raced at the picturesque racetrack in the hills east of the seaside town of Monterey. And since 2015, Laguna has been a popular stop on the MotoAmerica Series calendar.
The first-ever MotoAmerica Superbike race held at Laguna Seca was won by four-time Superbike Champion Josh Hayes by a massive 18.8 seconds over his Yamaha teammate Cameron Beaubier – by far the largest margin of victory in MotoAmerica history in Monterey. The second race was won by Beaubier, by a more normal margin of just .084 of a second.
In 2016, it was again Beaubier and Hayes splitting wins with Beaubier topping Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni Elias by .300 of a second and Hayes beating Beaubier by even less – .257 of a second.
Elias was dominant in 2017, the Spanish Moto2 World Champion beating teammate Roger Hayden in both races – by .543 of a second in race one and by 1.3 seconds in race two. And Elias used those two wins to help propel himself to the 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike title.
Last year, Beaubier was impressive in doing the double at Laguna, besting Josh Herrin by 5.4 seconds and Elias by six seconds to become the most successful of the current crop of MotoAmerica racers at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with four career Superbike wins. Those two wins were also pivotal in Beaubier’s red-hot stretch run that led him to his third MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.
“The goal is always to win, but it seems like whenever we are heading to Laguna, I have a little extra motivation hitting mid-season and having the World Superbike guys there,” Beaubier said. “Laguna has so much history with AMA, World Superbike and MotoGP that it just carries more weight and importance. It’s definitely a highlight of our season.”
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