New Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) CEO Tim McGrane is looking forward to building upon the facility-wide upgrades started by his predecessors at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Briton, whose connection to the local community began in the 1980s, has connections to the track from his role as part of the Rick Cole Auctions group that sparked the big wave of auction houses taking part around the Monterey Historics event. McGrane’s career arc continued with a variety of elite auction houses and expanded into creating and holding major automotive events before taking a directorial position at the esteemed Blackhawk Museum in the Bay Area.
Combining his experience with auctions, events and museum leadership centered around automobiles and motor racing as SCRAMP’s CEO is, as McGrane (pictured below) told RACER, the apex of a diverse career.
“I wanted the job and I’m very fortunate to have it,” he said. “I’ve been coming to events here for the better part of 30 years when I was in the classic car auction world, and I’ve been friends with many of the leaders of the track — Scott Atherton, Gill Campbell — and have been attuned to many of the challenges faced by the track over the years.
“I’ve also been here for IndyCar in its heyday and MotoGP at its peak. And when I thought of a challenge to face, this was it. It’s an iconic circuit with legendary history, albeit in a facility that hasn’t kept up with today’s expectations.”
Supported by a newly energized Monterey County and its Board of Supervisors which own and control Laguna Seca, a long-term plan was crafted to tear down the aged and unkempt portions of the facility and modernize everything from public restrooms to the tattered bridge that spans the Start/Finish line. An expansion of the circuit’s corporate suites and hospitality offerings, paving some of the dirt and rock-strewn spectator areas, and applying an overall look and feel of polish to the track is part of McGrane’s stewardship.
“From a point of view of the circuit experience for people coming to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion or IMSA or any other event, we must maintain the standards they expect,” he said. “So infrastructure improvements are at the forefront of our mission. The guest experience, sponsor experience, and even the participant experience, because drivers take in all they see before going onto the track, in today’s world, there are higher expectations we need to meet.
“We’re doing build-outs in many areas and are raising the bar throughout the facility through the revenue we can generate. And the county knows it has an asset that is very valuable and if they’re going to invest in it, they need to see we’re doing it wisely and will raise the value in the future. We’re also looking to grow revenue with auto, racing, and lifestyle events to show the county we’re the right custodians for the circuit.”
New multi-year business relationships with WeatherTech, which took over Laguna Seca’s naming rights from Mazda, and Lexus, which recently became the circuit’s official luxury vehicle, have generated useful income to put toward renovations. The possibility of adding some new events — IndyCar has been mentioned most frequently — to amplify its revenue stream is also on the docket.
“From other series that are out there, we’re looking at opportunities, looking at available dates on our calendar, looking at the local calendar so we don’t conflict with major events that rely heavily on the same hotels and hospitality resources our guests would need, and seeing what two-wheel and four-wheel series are available,” he said.
“We’re looking at the 2019 calendar now to see how we can maximize our revenue by hosting significant events that benefit the county. I’m a big believer in planning, not just three to five years down the road, but what we can do to improve immediately. We’ve got to start looking down the road really quickly.”