‘Laps for Laguna’ charity race boosts West Coast vintage racing calendar

Images by Nick Lish/Vintage Motorsport

‘Laps for Laguna’ charity race boosts West Coast vintage racing calendar

Vintage Motorsport / Historic

‘Laps for Laguna’ charity race boosts West Coast vintage racing calendar

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The Classic Sports Racing Group (CSRG) published its 2022 racing schedule in mid-December, of interest to the vast West Coast vintage racer community. A May 21-22 race date was of interest to a much wider audience, however.

“Laps for Laguna” is a new event, the joint creation of both the CSRG and non-profit Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation (LSRF). The late-spring unrestricted-sound (no mufflers!) vintage event will feature CSRG run groups and a whole host of off-track special events celebrating many of the enthusiast and marque clubs in the Salinas Valley and Monterey Peninsula, with all proceeds going to the non-profit 501c3 LSRF.

The weekend grand plan emerged from a fall 2021 social event when long-time vintage racers Martin Lauber and Locke de Bretteville, exchanging pleasantries, discovered that each was looking to organize a May 2022 vintage race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“Our dates were a week apart,” said Lauber, an LSRF director. “And basically, we were going to sabotage one or the other’s event!”

Instead, de Bretteville explained, they hit upon the idea of “combining forces” almost instantaneously. Dinner hour chit-chat shifted quickly to earnest discussion as the complementary interests of the two groups in hosting a major event were plain to see.

“The reality of it is the Foundation is not in the event planning business,” Lauber noted. “We’re not a race sanctioning group. We’re a group of volunteer, concerned citizens who love the track and want people to have more and better access to it.”

The key to a partnership was the asset that track manager John Narigi had offered the Foundation for 2022, an unrestricted-sound weekend in the early part of the year.

“The challenge for our Board was how to most effectively translate that asset into donations, which would then be used to benefit the track,” Lauber said. “The simplest strategy and most effective strategy was to partner with a group that has a history of putting on wonderful races, safe races — and that has an understanding of fundraising for charities with their events…

Enter CSRG, a 300-member vintage racing group well regarded for hosting events like the annual Charity Challenge which, since 2004, has raised $1.1 million for the Sonoma Chapter of the Speedway Children’s Charities.

“It’s a no-brainer that the Foundation and CSRG are coming together on this thing,” observed long-serving CSRG president de Bretteville. “We’re good at executing charitable events — this is old hat for us. But the new twist will be the addition of advertisers, groups, car clubs building the event into something more than a ‘club’ even — and I don’t say ‘club’ to be disparaging.

“CSRG is the second-oldest continuously operating vintage racing group in the U.S., founded 1968,” Lauber continued, “has a very proud history with their Charity Challenge event benefiting the Speedway Children’s charities of Sonoma. I thought, ‘Well, if they’ll do it for Sonoma every year, maybe they’ll do it for Laguna.'”

Turns out the club will indeed. Until 2000 when the track rental cost proved to be beyond the club’s reach, CSRG hosted events yearly at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and its members wanted to come back. Finally last summer, at the track’s invitation, they did come back for the first time after the long hiatus.

“And it was good,” said Lauber, a CSRG racing regular, “but it wasn’t great, mostly because of COVID. Laps For Laguna will give them the opportunity to come back with a promotional partner in the form of the Foundation — a cause which we think will prove to be very effective in getting great participation, from racers and their guests and from area groups and car clubs.”

Laps for Laguna will be a landmark event on several fronts, as it will bring together all of the Raceway stakeholders including the Foundation, track management A&D Narigi Consulting, the County of Monterey County, the well-regarded volunteer group and, now, Northern California’s premier vintage racing club, CSRG.

Reviewing the progress Lauber and de Bretteville have made involving and connecting so many parties just a few weeks over the holidays, LSRF Board President Ross Merrill enthused, “Amazing what we can accomplish with so many parties pulling in the same direction.”

“There’s a quite-natural tension between the vision of volunteering and the need to raise as much money as possible,” Lauber said. “Yes, our objective is to raise money for the Foundation, but it’s also to raise awareness of what a wonderful place WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is and why it’s worthy of investment.”

Helping to restore WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to the condition worthy of its spectacular Monterey County setting is where the Foundation comes in.

While CSRG focuses on the racing, Lauber and the other LSRF board members are well along reaching out to the many West Coast automotive enthusiast groups, expecting great participation. Also on offer is sponsorship from the many local businesses which benefit from the track’s existence — hotels, restaurants, retail stores, equipment vendors, and the like.

Said Lauber: “We’d like [local businesses] to sponsor not the race but groups of people invited to the race, and our pitch is something like, ‘Hey, Mr. hotel owner, would you underwrite the cost of a hundred high school kids coming out here on Saturday morning to see this place, maybe for the first time, get to see and sit in a race car and smell it and touch it?’”

“This year’s event is going to be a growing deal, but we’re going to get a helluva lot of people out to it,” said de Bretteville. “There’ll be lots of highbrow stuff with the suites and special events the Foundation is putting on, and there’s also going to be a lot on track — nine or 10 run groups, including 30 to 40 Under-2.5 Trans Am Morton Cup guys, at least that many Crossflow Cup Formula Fords, and lots more. We’ve already had two dozen inquiries about entering and haven’t yet posted on motorsport.reg …

“If you can’t tell, we’re hugely enthusiastic,” the CSRG president continued. “Heck, the [CSRG] board voted unanimously to go with it. Took about five minutes. And we never agree on everything…

For up-to-date and entry information on the May 21-22 Laps for Laguna charity event, log onto the Classic Sports Racing Group website HERE.

For more information on the Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation, check out its page on Facebook or click here.

To donate to the Foundation, click here.

Meanwhile, watch for details on a second Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation-hosted event in June, a two-day midweek conference focused on the future of the automobile. The working title is “Fast Forward” and we’ll have more as details emerge.

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