U.S. Grand Prix Returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - NBC Bay Area

U.S. Grand Prix Returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

About 140,000 fans are expected to attend this week's motorcyle racing event in Salinas.



    Motorcycle racing returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas this week with the eighth annual Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

    To be clear this is racing at its peak -- with speeds exceeding 200 mph and a track feature called The Corkscrew. That's an adrenaline-pumping combo.

    Festivities get underway Friday with practice and qualifying, continue Saturday with more qualifying and a lower-level race before the weekend concludes with a slew of events before the featured MotoGP race on Sunday at 3:45 p.m.

    The U.S. Grand Prix is the 10th race on the 18-stop MotoGP tour and one of two held in the United States -- the Indianapolis Grand Prix is on August 19. About 140,000 fans are expected to converge upon the Monterey/Salinas area over the course of the week.

    Laguna Seca

    [BAY] Laguna Seca
    Video highlighting the U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
    (Published Monday, July 23, 2012)

    For racing fans, Laguna Seca is defined by The Corkscrew, which officially makes up turns 8 and 8A. The stretch of track features a left-handed turn into a 12-percent drop followed by a right-handed turn into an 18-percent drop. By the time racers exit The Corkscrew, they’ve dropped the equivalent of five and a half stories -- in just 450 feet of pavement.

    Check out this link for a complete schedule of events.

    The first of four races this weekend (Saturday at 3:40 p.m.) is the AMA Pro Motorcycle Superstore.com SuperSport -- a 35-mile race that needs 16 laps to complete.

    Sunday features a pair of warm-up races before the main event. The day starts with the nine-lap FIM E-Power & TTX Championships at 10:25 a.m. and is quickly followed by the 45-mile AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike at 11:15 a.m.

    Racers to watch

    • Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo has a 19-point lead atop the standings and has finished first or second in all eight races he’s finished this year. Lorenzo won the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in 2010.


    • Dani Pedrosa hasn’t finished outside of the top five this season and ranks second in the standings behind Lorenzo. He won at Laguna Seca in 2009 and finished third last  year.


    • Defending champion and reigning MotoGP World Champion, Australian rider Casey Stoner has an impressive history at Laguna Seca. He set the single-lap record for a motorcycle in 2008 (1’20.700) and the circuit record in 2010 (1’21.376). He’s won three races this year.