Corkscrew Hillclimb: Monterey Car Week’s final track spectacle thrills a second time
For the second year running, Monterey Car Week festivities at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca concluded with a still-disorienting, backwards run of the most recognizable part of the iconic track in north Monterey County. The Corkscrew Hillclimb ran on Sunday morning, the day after the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion wrapped up, and included more than 50 vehicles for 2023. If you’re quick, you can just make it from Dawn Patrol at the Concours d’Elegance to the hillclimb without missing any on-track action.
Like its inaugural year, the Corkscrew Hillclimb attracted some race cars that had extended their Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion stays as well other brand-new entries, including street cars and one dedicated off-roader, a pre-runner driven by Brian Antle.
The wrong-way run up the illustrious Corkscrew of Laguna Seca begins on the front straight, heading toward turn 11. It seems that turns 11, 10, and 9 are no more difficult to negotiate clockwise than they are counterclockwise, but things get tricky at the Corkscrew. The steep uphill section loads a vehicle’s suspension and, as the surface flattens, unloads it, causing the vehicle to become really light just when it needs to turn right and take the checkered flag. This difficult sequence of weight transfer led to some cars pulling a tire off the ground—and a couple of hair-raising moments as grip became scarce.
Notable performances include a blistering time from a Drako GTE, a 1200-hp EV that beat the production-car hillclimb record set by a Lucid Air last year with an impressive time of 37.0 seconds.
Christine Sloss set the time to beat at the early session in this beautiful Ferrari SF90. Once the track warmed up, the battle was between Patrick Long, in a Porsche 911 Turbo from Gunther Werks, and Chris Locke, whose Lotus Formula 1 car was able to take the win for the second consecutive year.
The third-annual Corkscrew Hillclimb and Community Day is already on the books for next year, set for August 18. Tickets for adults are $35 for the day, with kids 15 and under free with a paying adult. Expect another wide variety of vehicles, and look for Locke to be challenged—he’ll surely be going for a three-peat at Laguna Seca.