One Lap Around Laguna Seca
Monterey GP At MRLS

I think it’s safe to say that Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS) is one of the most popular race tracks on Earth. It’s one of the few tracks to rival the European greats, and it’s been included in almost every racing game that has real-life track adaptations.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to head to the Monterey Grand Prix held at MRLS. Previously I’d only ventered to the Californian central coast track as a spectator, so being accredited felt great.


I took my time to explore as many shooting locations around the circuit as I possibly could, and looking through my photos post-race, I found that I shot at every single corner.


I know many of you guys haven’t been to Laguna Seca, so I figured I could give you a little tour with my images, one corner at a time.

The Start

I used to consider Turn 1 of MRLS part of the main straightaway when I drove the track in video games, because it’s just so wide.


Many drivers don’t even lift off the throttle through the turn, and as such, top speeds can exceed 150mph.


On race day, it can be spectacular place to watch from, especially with 40+cars on track, as is the case with the MX-5 Cup race. Side note: do watch an MX-5 Cup race if you ever get the chance – you will not regret it.


Turn 2, also known as the Andretti Hairpin, is where chaos often ensues. Because it’s a heavy braking zone, and because it’s a downhill turn, a lot of rubbing goes on here. While shooting the MX-5 race, I witnessed five cars get punted off track to the right – and that was just on the first lap!


As drivers are back on throttle after dropping down to double digits for Turn 2, they have to immediately jump back on their brakes for the next turn.


At Turn 3, many drivers seemed to go a little too wide, causing them to go fully off course.


Turn 4 however, seemed to have the least amount of drama. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy corner, but it’s just not as difficult as the corners following it. If you plan on visiting MRLS, you might find yourself camped up at Turn 4, as there are bleachers to the left side of the track.


Turn 5 is a great place to shoot. It’s slightly banked and access to it is amazing for media; you can also hide from the sun under a nice set of trees. I witnessed quite a few passes happen here as well. Like Turn 2, this corner is also a hard braking zone, so there were drivers that were overestimating and braking too early.


I’ve always hated Turn 6 when playing video games. The track dips down for a split second right at the apex, and I remember always going off because I would approach the corner too fast. This was a common spot where drivers oversteered a little, resulting in complete 180s, especially during practice and qualifying.


James Bond had no trouble going through the turn, though.


Turn 6 seems like a good spot for sunset; but I wouldn’t know for sure, because the GTD/PC race ended at 5:45pm and sunset was at 7:30pm. If only….

Into The Corkscrew

Right after ascending into Turn 6, the drivers are faced with another uphill section.


The straightaway between Turn 6 and 7, known as the Rahal Straight, is a great place to spectate from. Many people don’t bother making the hike up here, but it’s definitely worth it, and the view to the drivers’ right is breathtaking, especially in the morning hours.


Turn 7 comes up pretty fast.


Drivers are hard on their brakes as they crest over the hill, lining themselves up for Turn 8, The Corkscrew, before they can even see it.


What can I say about this turn that you guys don’t already know? Larry even dedicated an entire post to The Corkscrew because of how famous – and infamous – it is.


In terms of spectating, it’s probably the best location on the track. The public viewing area here is about 5-feet higher than the track itself and on a hill. Bring a camera to this spot if you ever venture to Laguna Seca.


What some people don’t know is that the proper line requires drivers to scrape the apex while going through the turn. Either that, or every single driver on track was terrible.


But apex scraping occurred during practice, qualifying, and the race, so I’m pretty sure it’s the former. It kind of gives you a sense of how steep The Corkscrew really is.


What I find really great about The Corkscrew is that you don’t even need to be an accredited media personnel to get good shots and video of cars. I was standing behind a crowd of people in the spectating zone when I got the shot above.


And the same with this shot too.


I found myself stuck in the area between The Corkscrew and Turn 9 for the majority of my time spent at this section of the track. It’s such as beautiful area that it’s hard to stay away.


Because the sun was blazing for the majority of the race, I had to find as much shade as possible. The bridge before Turn 9 turned out to be a good place to rehydrate.

Coming To The End

Turn 9, known as the Rainey Curve, is another high speed section somewhat similar to Turn 1. But unlike Turn 1, the drivers are now being taken to the lowest part of the track.


The turn itself draws lot of spectators to the right-hand side, most likely because you can get a good view of the elevation drop.


As the turn is so wide and open, I decided to play around a bit with my shutter speed.


Turn 10 is similar to Turn 9 in that the drivers are going through both turns at around 90mph.


This corner, in my opinion, is the least spectacular of Laguna Seca – at least when compared to the other corners of the track. It’s just a wide open area. Some drivers do go a little wide here, so I witnessed a few passes along this corner.


Turn 11, the final corner, is a fun one. Like Turn 2 and The Corkscrew, this is a hard braking zone. It could possibly be the slowest corner of the track too, but I’m not sure as I’ve never driven here myself.


And just like that, 11 corners are done, leaving drivers to simply cross line and kick off another lap or take the chequered flag. Sometimes, it’s not that easy though…

I have a good amount of bonus images added to this post, so make sure you keep scrolling down.

Louis Yio
Instagram: lusciousy

Cutting Room Floor


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Great shots Louis


Huh. That aFePOWER M6 GT3 looks like a new team.


Great photos, great post!! It's funny that you say turns 4 and 10 are kind of meh....but they are both important corners.
Like you say, T5 is a good passing spot - which makes the corner before it very important to get right. T4 is one of those tricky corners in that it looks easy, but to be quick enough to set up a pass into T5, it takes some courage and skill.
T10 is similar. It has a lot of banking, so you can actually carry a lot of speed through this corner. And since T11 is one of the best passing spots on the track, getting a good run through T9 and T10 is very important.
The U.S., in my opinion, is populated by many of the best, purest race tracks in the world, yet many fly under the radar. Leguna is obviously well knows, as is Sebring and Daytona. But then there's Road America, Road Atlanta, Barber, Limerock, AMP, Mid Ohio, Watkins Glen, and VIR - all very challenging circuits which have not fallen victim to the European trend of neutering most of their good tracks with chicanes and massive paved runoff.
More posts like this which showcase Americas amazing racetracks, and the recovering sports car racing scene would definitely be a welcome sight :)


WOW! Keep it coming. Great shots!

It's nice to see the Mazda Speedsource team doing better this year. The car even looks better.


Twitch_6 Best comment of the day.


Twitch_6 You're right. It's not so much about the corner being too technical but because it leads to a potential passing corner, it makes it a good challenge for drivers to get an optimal line for passing.

I think the reason why these tracks fly under the radar when compared to the big European tracks is because NASCAR is such a huge deal here. Tracks like Daytona and Indianapolis are the first ones that come to mind when most people think about racing in the US.


90nissanS13@my350z They got 4th in Long Beach and in Monterey. They were also fastest in practice and qualifying. It's only a matter of time before they podium at this rate.


UWerqxTeam_MJ New car but not a new team. They're partnered with the Turner Motorsport guys and it was their debut race.


This is what immediately comes to mind


bluestreaksti  Let your guard down for 1 second...



I'd like to see that. They are kind of a local team to me. I get to see them at Sebring and Daytona.

Last year, they were packed up before I got back from lunch when I was at Sebring. :(


LouisYio UWerqxTeam_MJ 

Oh, My...I didn't even realize Turner isn't there as a factory team.


I Dont understand why america loves NASCAR?? Its so boring and inferior compared to touring car and GT racing such as this.But anyways amazing shots, really cought the magic of the cars and the track!!


90nissanS13@my350z bluestreaksti One of the greatest moments in open wheel racing. Also the reason why it's so rough in that runoff area now. I don't think anyone can pull a move like that again.


Boring and inferior? No. Different? Yes. Like most of its detractors , sounds to me like you just don't understand the difficulty and beauty of oval racing.


QuattrogroupB I used to be in the same boat but after getting a little more into motorsports, I realized the difficulty in NASCAR. From a spectator's standpoint, it doesn't look hard at all. I mean, how hard is it to drive in an oval? You have to take into consideration that the drivers are in the cars for 3+ hours for some of these races where they're driving at 200+ mph and pulling 3G's. Temps inside the cockpit can even exceed 120F. Just from sweat alone, drivers will lose 5-10 pounds in a single race. Add all that to an insanely heavy car with 800+hp and no power steering surrounded by 40 other cars with the same specs just millimeters away and you get a sense of how difficult the races may be.


QuattrogroupB Nascar does two road courses, Sonoma and Watkins Glen, you didn't know that?
 Touring car? Really, you mean like 4 door sedans? Mehhh.


Imma Mustang; They still think imma frog; Im happy; me too; me three; Imma Lawnmower and finally Beach party.


@chri5 Duncan, lol, you obviously don't watch V8 Supercars or BTCC. Easily the two most competative and exciting racing series on the planet right now. Touring Cars are the shit!!!


Arguably the sickest motorsport capture I've ever seen.


QuattrogroupB Intense 200mph overtaking is boring? dude you got to respect every motorsport discipline tho


Laguna on a car is special no doubt. But it is another Animal on a Bike. It is insane, mind blowing and way to much fun. And while I love cars, I love bikes even more....and there is nothing thay equalls being on laguna on a motorcycle. Laguna is special because it was not made by engineers on a pc it was made the oldschool way using the terrain and following it.
Everybody thinks the corkscrew is the scariest part of laguna. But is not is actually turn one. On a bike you are leaning and coming flat out. And there is no rest on bike in laguna.
Laguna is such a unique place.


with the old style car that looks good on the road if you want to have


the car was very good 
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