The famed Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Behind the Zoom: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

A breakdown of the home of the 2015 NASA Western States Championships with turn-by-turn, data, annotated track map, plus in-car and track walk video.

The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) is once again splitting its national championship into two events – the Eastern States and Western States Championships. This year, the Western States Championships are first on the schedule, on July 30-Aug. 2, and moves from Sonoma Raceway to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. For many of the NASA racers it will be their first time to experience the track’s cambered, high-g-load turns, tricky flattening exits and the dive down the famed Corkscrew.

To help the Mazda Raceway rookies get up to speed a bit more quickly, we’ve brought back a special edition of BEHIND THE ZOOM to provide Mazda racers with the usual cornucopia of information, from a turn-by-turn breakdown to a marked up track map and data trace, along with some in-car video to get a feel for the place.

“The one thing I wish I knew about Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca before driving there was which corners you need to focus on,” says Joel Miller, driver of the No. 07 Mazda SKYACTIV Prototype in the TUDOR United SportsCar Series. “This track requires the car to be set up differently for different styles of corners and since that cannot happen, the driver must adjust his driving style accordingly. For example, setting the car up for turns such as Turn 2, which normally has understeer on exit, could hurt the high-speed corners such as Turns 6 or 9. There are things you can do with your driving inputs to help this problem. My advice is to focus on getting the car comfortable in the high-speed sections of the track such as Turns 5, 6 and 9.”

Each of those turns has its unique quirks. All are fast, cambered in the driver’s favor – at least through most of the turn; 6 and 9 flatten quickly – and important to get right for the shortest time around the circuit. But none are generally considered to be the most important turn on the track.

“The most critical corner on the track is the final corner, Turn 11. This leads onto the longest straight with a passing opportunity at the end. Getting the car to rotate with good power-down capability is your number one goal. This may sound opposite from what I said before, because this is the slowest corner. However, for a good lap time focus on getting the car to work in the fast turns; for a good racecar focus on Turn 11,” Miller says.

Andrew Carbonell isn’t one of our BEHIND THE ZOOM regulars. But neither can we ignore his record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He has won four of the last five Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Street Tuner races there, the most recent with Liam Dwyer, and he has also raced a Spec Miata at the track.

“Mazda Raceway is a track that really requires you to roll your speed and really carry speed through the corners,” Carbonell explains. “The person that slows the car down the least there is the fastest.”

MRLS Trackwalk_thumb
Carbonell provides our turn-by turn breakdown, while Mazda SKYACTIV Prototype driver Tom Long provides the track map and data and some in-car video. He’ll take us through a clean lap, plus show off a good passing opportunity. Then Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich® Tires champion Kenton Koch (currently leading the points in the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda) shows us some more passing, along with some defensive lines in a compilation from last year’s MX-5 Cup races at the track.

Annotated Track Map

MRLS datamap_thumb
Data map

In addition, SpeedSource principal and former Mazda SKYACTIV Prototype driver Sylvain Tremblay joins Koch for track walk of Mazda Raceway, breaking down each corner to help Mazda drivers achieve their best lap.