Insider tips for Laguna Seca and the Canadian Grand Prix

By Sonia Frieder

Can you identify a car by the sound of its engine? Do you know every turn of Laguna Seca by heart? Do you say Rosso Corsa, and Giallo Modena instead of red and yellow? As a kid, did you have posters of cars on your walls instead of bands?  If you must take your car in to get serviced, do you politely ask them to not to wash it? Are any of your pets named after famous race car drivers?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then read on! Because you, my friend, are certifiably car crazy! Today we are going to be talking about two of our favorite topics: Cars and Travel! 

Planning for a race vacation is a lot different than planning a regular vacation. There are many more factors that you need to consider before the big event.

  • Do you need general admission tickets as well as grand stand tickets? How about paddock passes?
  • How do you get to the track? Do they have parking lots?
  • What should you bring with you to the track? What is and isn’t allowed inside?
  • What do you do after the race?

These are just a few examples of the questions that you need to answer before the big race. And to make matters even more complicated, every track is a little bit different.

But worry not! We’re here to help! Here are our tips for visiting some of our favorite race tracks.

Many events at Laguna Seca also offer paddock passes that allow you to get closer to the action, be sure to investigate the various tickets options available.

 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California

Laguna Seca has been around since 1957 and is used for both motorcycle and auto racing. The track itself is a racer’s dream featuring some of the most famous turns in auto racing: the Andretti Hairpin and the Corkscrew. The track has seen the likes of American Le Mans, Monterrey Historics, AMA, Superbike and Moto GP, just to name a few. In addition to be being a fantastic track for racers and visitors alike, the surrounding cities offers plenty to do after the race.

Here are some tips and tricks for visiting Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!

  • You can drive your car onto the raceway grounds and park in one of the large general admission lots (a 15 min hike to the track), or purchase a permit for closer parking.
  • Many car clubs (BMW, Corvette, VW, Porsche, and others) often have corrals at Laguna Seca that allow you closer, trackside parking and sometimes private restroom facilities and snacks.
  • The track itself circulates around a large hill that serves as a great viewing location for general admission ticket holders.  From the front side of the hill you can see 2/3 of the track, and it’s only a short walk up to the summit for a view of the Corkscrew. Consider bringing a blanket and portable shade (especially during the summer months) and set up shop on the hill instead of purchasing grand stand seats.
  • If you prefer a grandstand seat, the top of the bleachers at Turn 4 is a great spot.
  • Many events at Laguna Seca also offer paddock passes that allow you to get closer to the action, be sure to investigate the various tickets options available.
  • A visit to the famed Cannery Row is a must! Located in downtown Monterey, the streets are shut down and lined with cars, motorcycles and party goers during large race weekends. Have beers at one of the many bars or enjoy some fresh seafood at of any number of local restaurants (The Fish Hopper is always a favorite).
  • If you’re in the area, definitely try to check the schedule to see if the Concours d’Elegance is on!

    If you are attending the Rolex Monterey Historic Race, don’t forget about all the other events that are happening that weekend, such as the Concorso Italiano and Concours d’Elegance held on Pebble Beach Golf Course.  If you are interested in purchasing a new ride, all of the major auction houses have impressive collections crossing the block each night in downtown Monterey.

 Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal, Canada

You are allowed to bring food and drinks (including alcohol) into the track, so you can enjoy the drink of your choice while watching the action.

The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is special in many ways, one of the most obvious being that the track is situated on a manmade island and public park. In 1977, the track was created by linking up the park roads that already existed on the island, and named after local hero and Ferrari driver, Gilles Villeneuve. Today the park and track are major tourist attractions, especially when Formula 1, Champ Cars, or Grand-Am Rolex Sports cars are in town! In addition, Montreal is home to wonderful sightseeing and delicious food!

Here are some tips and tricks for visiting the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit

  • As mentioned, the track is on an island. So unless you are a VIP or have a helicopter, you will have to take the subway like everyone else. The subway station lines after a race can be intense, but leaving your seat right at the checker flag will give you head start on the crowd.  Hope you’re not claustrophobic!
  • Unlike Laguna Seca, you should seriously consider purchasing grand stand seats in Montreal. General admission tickets offer very little visibility. Also, the track is sectioned off you and you can only visit the area where your seats are located or general admission areas.
  • You are allowed to bring food and drinks (including alcohol) into the track.  A backpack style cooler works best as you will be walking a significant distance from the subway station to your seat.
  • Purchase your subway tickets before you head out. You will save yourself a lot of time and headaches, especially after the race when you and 100,000 other race fans are headed into the same subway station.
  • Although you are in Canada, the track vendors typically accept American dollars and Euros, and all speak English
  • During the race weekend, be sure to visit Crescent Street. The area is typically closed down and filled with vendors, beer and music!

About Sonar Travel

Sonar Travel creates vacation itineraries that are completely customized to your preferences, needs, and budget. We plan the details of your trip, saving you countless hours of scouring the internet. But, you book your own flights and hotels to avoid those expensive travel agency fees.

We tell you exactly where to go, the best time to visit, where to buy your tickets, and more. With each itinerary, you also receive an online map of your planned activities and tips about local customs and transportation.

And you if are attending a race, we can help prepare you for the track and keep your family and significant other happy too!

Sonar Travel can plan a full day (morning to evening) itinerary for every day of your vacation or just a few days of activities that you can then disperse as you like. Whatever your needs, just ask!

Visit Sonar’s website or keep up with them on FacebookTwitter or on their blog. 


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