The Monterey County Board of Supervisors has approved an initial request to supply WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca track management firm A&D Narigi with $750,000 to start a series of improvements to the aged facility.
Company CEO John Narigi presented a three-tier plan in a board meeting held on Tuesday to address some of Laguna Seca’s longstanding shortcomings, starting with the main crossover bridge positioned above the start/finish line.
“All supervisors agreed the bridge is dilapidated with dry rot and mold and needs replacing,” the Monterey Herald reported.
The next step in Narigi’s outline involves repaving the well-worn racing surface, and the third upgrade would be made at one of the trackside buildings.
While the first stage of upgrades was met with uniform approval, the greater expenditures to follow became the subject of a stronger debate. The supervisors also asked for a formal business plan detailing A&D Narigi’s insights on how the county’s investment in the park and circuit it controls would eventually be recovered.
“The total cost of all three would be $9.5 million,” the Herald wrote. “The $750,000 would be allocated this fiscal year and then about $8.7 million in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The debate turned to a chicken-and-egg discussion whereby several board members wanted to see a business plan that outlined how the facility would be able to pay back any investment the county made toward what would eventually become a $66 million overhaul of the facility. Narigi argued that to make a return on investment the track would first need to attract events that it wouldn’t be able to do without the investments.”
Narigi, who was installed as Laguna Seca’s track manager by the board, was bullish in expressing the venue’s need for county dollars to modernize a facility that was once the crown jewel of West Coast motor racing.
“This is a golden asset to this county and one that has been ignored of its investment needs to support it and remain competitive in the event arena,” Narigi said. “It creates more tax revenue than any other event in the county. But the problem is the facility is tired and filled with deferred maintenance. Ownership needs to put some serious money behind it. Ownership needs to step up.”
Supervisor John Phillips, the powerful former judge who recommended Narigi to his constituents for the job, sided with the track manager.
“We turned over a dilapidated facility for someone to run it for us that had 20 years of deferred maintenance and now we are saying it needs to be run successfully (before investing)?” Phillips said. “If we wait another year, it will be condemned.”