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Noise dispute settlement allows racing to continue at Weathertech Laguna Seca


The future of motor sport at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca in California has been secured, following the settlement of a lawsuit filed by a group of local residents who were unhappy with noise levels, traffic and other factors said to be generated by events at the 57-year-old venue.

The track is home to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion historic racing event, part of Monterey Car Week, among others.

Now, the agreement between Monterey County and the Highway 68 Coalition of residents allows Friends of Laguna Seca (FLS) to continue its 2024 season and operations as planned, on the condition that FLS begins crucial assessments, including a previously planned sound-impact assessment, to make necessary improvements. The agreement also establishes Friends of Laguna Seca’s stewardship of the facility for 50 years.

The residents accused the county’s supervisors of violating environmental and zoning laws by allowing increasing amounts of racing at Laguna Seca. The plaintiffs, under the banner of the Highway 68 Coalition, say that they do not want to halt racing activities, but do want noise levels to be reduced. They also claim excessive noise at the track impacts their daily life, and have raised environmental concerns, too, claiming the track has inadequate sewage facilities and potable water.

Alexander Henson, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said: “I think it’s fair to say that the case recognises that noise and concentrating people in a small area like this can have environmental consequences.”

Michael Weaver is head of the Highway 68 Coalition and the lead plaintiff in the case. He has been quoted as saying that he’s lived in the area since before the track opened in 1957, and that when it first opened, the tranquility of the area was interrupted by only one race per year. That number continued to grow, with more racing and music events, from the Sea Otter Classic family cycling event and the Christian music festival Spirit West Coast (which took place at Laguna Seca from 1997 to 2013), to the Laguna Seca SpeedTour.

As with all tracks, Laguna Seca operates under strict limitations. Racing takes place for 35 days per year, with a maximum of 5000 spectators for each event, and noise levels are restricted to a maximum of 105 decibels. 

The settlement clarifies the long-term plans of FLS to conduct a previously planned sound-impact assessment at the circuit, as well as carry out appropriate sound-mitigation measures, all as part of being a good neighbour to the surrounding community.

“We view this as a very favourable resolution for the county and its long-term partner at Laguna Seca, the non-profit organisation Friends of Laguna Seca,” stated Nick Pasculli, county communications director. “The future of the track and the amazing recreation area, which is a premier County Park, is bright. Laguna Seca is loved by local, national and global car enthusiasts, and also by the tens of thousands of people who enjoy the beauty of the recreation area.”

Friends of Laguna Seca president Ross Merrill added: “FLS is pleased that the litigation was dealt with quickly, and we’re looking forward to our next steps toward Laguna Seca’s long-term success for the benefit of the community of Monterey County and the entire racing world. We know these improvements will take time, but we are committed to ensuring the success of Laguna Seca for decades to come.”

“I grew up watching races at Laguna Seca, and have raced there since the late 1970s,” said Bruce Canepa, vice president of Friends of Laguna Seca. “I have a lifetime passion for this facility, and I want to see it be preserved for future generations. With Friends of Laguna Seca, we’ve built a team of individuals who share the same passion, paired with business acumen, to make Laguna Seca the place we’ve always hoped it could be.”

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