The layer of dark clouds in the sky as we approached Laguna Seca meant nothing. No omen. The next day was going to be beautiful. As perfect as you could want it to be near the central coast in November.
We chugged slowly up the hill into the park. Martin doesn’t appreciate a steep incline when he’s fully laden. Pedal to the floor. Just about 25mph. But we got there, and that’s the nature of our business here. We’re climbers. Martin knows what he signed up for.
As you descend into the raceway proper, you start to see the grey track snaking through the green hills. The word “Corkscrew” in white letters sits on one hillside like the famous Hollywood sign. And that seems appropriate. That turn is just about as famous and scandalous in the racing world as any front-page celeb could hope to be.
We passed over the track on a bridge and dropped into the paddock. A few rumbling tractor-trailers huddled together at one side, lights low. The grandstands and towers and garages stand solemn like they know something you don’t know. And they do.
We chatted with the folks from LetsRideTrackDays for a bit and then pulled into our spot. Bravo ran around the empty paddock for a while, loosening up after a long stretch in the back of the van. He found a big Doberman about the same age and got in some wrestling. Bravo is very good at making friends.
We set up the canopy, the chairs, the bike stands in the dark no problem. We’re getting better at this. Takes about 10 minutes now.
The moon was huge and bright. One day before the Super Moon. We hung out in the back of the van and waited for the few people around to retreat into their trailers so we could sneak onto the tarmac.
At the end of paddock, up through the grass and across the gravel runoff, we found a route to the track that wouldn’t raise attention. This was the bottom of Rainey Curve, turns nine and ten that lead you home from the Corkscrew. So we turned left and walked the track in its proper counterclockwise direction.
The moon was so bright that we could see perfectly. Bravo dashed back and forth across the track, sniffing every barrier and brake marker. Checking out each of the corner towers. He ran, sniffed, ran, checked in with me, then repeated. The smells here must be mesmerizing if you’re as sensitive to them as Bravo. For me, just being there was thrilling. I could have left after the walk and considered it a good road trip, but I still had more to do.
We memorized the corners and the cambers as we took in the famous sites. At the Corkscrew in particular, we stood at the top and imagined some of the famous overtakes that had happened there: Rossi over Stoner, Marquez over Rossi. We walked that memorial line on the wrong side of the verge and tried to gather some of its energy.
And the end of the circuit, we sneaked back through to the paddock and into the van. We’d forgotten the sleeping bag, so we just nested in some blankets. Two dog night. The morning couldn’t come soon enough.