Laguna Seca Lawsuit: Homeowners Perplexed as Iconic Race Track Materializes Overnight

BFG Radial Tire Bird Brandan Gillogly

Imagine the shock if, after moving into your home, you discover that a popular and world-renowned race track had materialized overnight in your general vicinity. The horror. You’d rightfully be confused, possibly even enraged at such a happening, and keen to pursue a lawsuit. Believe it or not, this is exactly the phenomenon that unfolded recently. Based on our deepest reporting capabilities, we can find no evidence that WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca ever existed before 2023.

As expected, this sudden and unexpected conjuring has local residents incensed, as the noise and traffic from the venue came out of nowhere and was a shock to those who had moved into the area over the preceding handful of years. Naturally, residents have banded together to get rid of this nuisance that definitely has not been in the same location since 1957. The group, the Highway 68 Coalition, filed suit against Monterey County, which operates the fledgling track, on December 12, 2023, seeking to curtail racing at the venue.

1965 Lola T-70 laguna seca
1965 Lola T-70 Brandan Gillogly

The lawsuit hopes to target the track by calling into question the track’s zoning laws and lack of explicit racing use being in the track’s permits. The County of Monterey owns the track and spent more than $18M renovating the track surface and installing a new bridge over the front straight in 2023. The track is credited with bringing in about a quarter of a billion in local revenue each year, but the Highway 68 Commission makes a good point, noting that they have, “suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable injury as a result of the continued violation of the Respondents’ zoning laws.”

When reached for comment*, the Highway 68 Coalition was shocked—outraged even—that its mobile phone plan included the possibility of incoming calls.

Gray Ghost Trans Am Corkscrew Rolex Reunion 2021 laguna seca
Gray Ghost 1964 Pontiac Tempest Brandan Gillogly

The appearance of said track, which is suddenly very popular and definitely hasn’t been a staple of the area for almost seven decades, has taken a massive toll on local residents. “I can’t believe it,” said an unnamed real estate agent who recently listed a property just a stone’s throw from the track. “This house sold for $2.5 million seven years ago, long before the race track was there. Today it’s listed for just $4.25 million, we’ll be lucky to sell it for $4.2M.”

It’s almost impossible to imagine such a tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with those unfortunate souls who, through no fault of their own, live just minutes away from the Monterey Car Week festivities.

*We didn’t really call them and don’t much care what those jabronis think.





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    A few years ago a barbeque joint in Austin that had been there for decades got sued by residents of subdivisions built near it within the last decade because the BBW smokers smoke bothered them. Which IMHO, should require the revocation of permission for these people to live within the borders of Texas for such sacrilege.

    40 year resident of Austin here. That story made headlines.

    Similar issues when people moved here, bought a downtown loft on 6th street then complained about the crowds and music.

    I feel their pain. When I moved to Colorado in the early 90s, I had to initiate a lawsuit against NOAA because I don’t like cold and snow. I hope that the cry babies who failed to do their due diligence suffer the same lack of success. Dob’t move somewhere and expect to change things, that were there long before your happy asses landed there, to your liking.

    OK I have a solution. make Highway 68 Coalition BUY the track+ all the assets worth possible in the Billions plus 5 year of profit lost to the city 4 – 5 billion so let’s say 6 1/2 billion. Then they know what they have.
    I’m still working on the plan for the planes that fly thousands of feet above you and their noise.

    FWIW the race track is 4 miles from the local airport. It’s possible that some of the Coalition live closer to the airport than the track. Of course, removing the airport may be phase 2 of their overall plan. Once the track is gone they’ll be able to hear the planes more clearly…. However, clueless neighbors have doomed many, many racetracks (and airports!) around the country. Doesn’t matter who was there first, just how many votes they can muster to get that awful public nuisance closed so that our property values, which were previously discounted due to proximity to the nuisance, can rise to their rightful level.

    Some of the aggrieved homeowners /may/ have bought during the pandemic reduction/closure period and in this case the appropriate legal remedy is to sue their real estate agent. estimates: “Laguna Seca’s Major Events Brought $246 Million To Region In 2022”. And the track has had the most stringent noise controls of any big track that I have heard of, though I believe that these are relaxed some for the truly big professional series.

    1. What kind of Texan doesn’t enjoy the sweet smell of BBQ? 2. Austin has 10 months of Summer @ 100+ degrees and 2 months of winter separated by 2 days of Spring & Fall. Windows are never open. Get an air filter for your AC and thank Heaven that you can walk to a BBQ!
    Regarding the race track. A potential 100% real estate profit in 7 years does not sound like an issue to complain against. Seems more like a blessing.

    Waterford Hills, located on the northern edge of metro Detroit area suffered the same ignorance decades ago. The track has been in existence since the late 50’s as part of the Oakland County Sportsman’s Club. That club includes a variety of other loud activities like shooting skeet and practice ranges for guns and yet it was the noise from the cars that was eventually targeted by locals. It has operated since the 80’s under a fairly severe noise ordinance. Which is better than closing and as a person who likes their peace and quiet I can’t complain about the cars being quieter – but it does seem idiotic for people to move into an area with a race track without having done a little research on the area before buying.

    That same club, which had been there since circa 1935, was sued in around the 70s by residents of a new subdivision in an attempt to close our shooting ranges, which were endangering no one. The judge had one question: “who was there first?”

    I was told at one of the track days that the noise ordinance has *lower* standards than the street. I’ve seen several cars “blow sound” while there. Why these nimrods move next to a racetrack and then complain makes me wonder how they breathe without help.

    I was going to comment about Waterford Hills; every track day the Host (Ed Frank) mention the smart developers who decided to built beside a track.

    If it isn’t racetracks, it’s airports. Or performance venues. Or pretty near anything. Years ago, new neighbors complained about the noise and lights from a drive-in theater around here. A drive-in theater that’d been there when those people’s yards were still just pastureland (the cows had never complained). The theatre tried to buy some goodwill by installing free speakers in homes that had a view of the screen. That ticked off those neighbors who didn’t have a view and didn’t get a speaker. Eventually, the theater closed down.

    When I was a kid, Toronto built a new airport. It was miles out of town and everyone complained about how far they had to travel to get there. Then, in the 70’s and 80’s, houses were built near the airport. Groups were formed and the residents went to court. Now, the airport has to close overnight. Eff em, the airport was there first.

    No, we just put up with other foolishness like letting a rich bigmouth get away with what everyone else would be held in contempt for & thrown in jail.

    They did try that exact thing regarding WHRRI and won, getting a ridiculous noise injunction. Homes were built next to the race track and they sued and won. The requirement is lower noise level than what can occur on the street in front of those homes. Depends on who had the better lawyer and what frame of the mind the judge was in.

    True story. A resident owned several acres and wanted to sell it to a developer. The local council would not let him change his zoning to residential from agriculture. Weird cause right next to his property was a very high class newly built gated community. The guy bought 20 pigs and made signs up to let everyone know, who to thank for their new swine neighbors. 2 months later, his land was zoned residential.

    Not theoretical; I’ve seen it. In Fulton County Ohio, the chamber of commerce hands out brochures to potential home buyers, with lovely litho photos of farm scenes — and a scratch’n’sniff of what cow and pig manure smell like. Can’t say you weren’t warned.

    As a Georgia native (now in the NC mountains) we had a significant number of chicken farms in north GA, many of which had been around for 80-100 years. These feed a major industry in Georgia. It was a common story that folks would buy into a development and then begin to complain about the smell. Ironically, they drove past clearly indicated signs for the commercial farm on the way to their home. Not a lot of sympathy from local judges, who also were usually related to some of the local farmers. Not living in the real world is a problem that extends far below our political elite.

    My city has a chicken processing plant that has been in its present location for no less than 45 years. When I located there, the surrounding area was predominantly industrial and no one said anything. In the last 15 or so years, the surrounding area has gentrified and some high end housing has been built nearby. The residents began raising a stink (see what I did there) about the bad odors from the plant. They are pretty fou(w)l, but it’s hard to be sympathetic for someone who buys a home next a chicken processing plant that pre-existed their home’s construction. Made me think they came from out of town because most everyone around here was very much aware of the place. The nearby college football stadium worked out a deal with the plant to limit activities on game day, but it’s not an ironclad deal and the odor can sometimes linger for hours.

    A golf course built next to a Stuart, Florida, pig farm that played country music, sued the farmer. The response from the pig farmers’ attorney? “(My clients) didn’t want to be around a bunch of people because they wanted to raise pigs and play music on their property. Now you’ve got a golf course that wants to change that. My guys were here first.”

    Yes, I remember in the ’80s the rich Newport Beach people sued because Orange County airport had the audacity to have jets taking off near their expensive homes that were built decades after the airport, even after commercial jets were commonplace. Somehow, their expectation that this airport would never grow or expand in flights despite the area it serves growing many-fold in size.

    The settlement in that case is an odd takeoff scenario where, after the aircraft reaches 1,000 feet, the pilot throttles back to 50% power until over the ocean. It’s quite the thrill the first time you experience it, as for a moment, you can’t help but wonder if you’re about to fall from the sky. But the idiots were placated, so it Saul Goodman! 😁

    The track here is holding all the aces. They are a big revenue draw for the area so they will not be harmed.

    Smaller tracks like Waterford suffer as they are more local SCCA or club tracks and they bring little money to the area so they get little support.

    Norwalk Summit Racing track got a bunch hassle over top fuel noise. They are not exactly in town but people complained. They threatened to move and the complaints vanished.

    I’m not so sure. This isn’t 1969, and it’s definitely California (where the car is no longer king, sadly). Those $4 million homes pay a lot in taxes, and developers bring a lot of jobs. Revenue streams are subject to change. People with money can and do influence people in public office.
    I certainly hope you are right, but “the track holds all the aces”? Maybe not ALL of them.

    Monterey didn’t toss $18m in taxpayer money to lose it. Like the article said, it brings in a quarter billion a year? That’s a lot of taxes attached to that.

    I hope so. Laguna Seca is probably my favorite track (that’s still in existence) and it would be unbelievably tragic if it were to go the way that Riverside Raceway went – as if we need another shopping mall!

    They shut down Fontana recently.

    But that was for killing whales not keeping Karen from watching her soaps in peace.

    The only problem Waterford had was that they drew a corrupt and incompetent judge for the track suit, while for the gun range suit the competent and honest judge. Being a small private club, they could not afford to appeal.

    Where is this bizarre article coming from? The Laguna Raceway has been there before all of the surrounding deveolpents and is a world renowned raceway loved by millions over several decades.

    I’ve been feeling the same confusion as numerous articles have been written in the same ‘tongue in cheek’ style. The first time I read about this I almost spit out my beer.

    Unfortunately this is exactly the same story over and over, whether it’s a racetrack or long pre-existing farm. People are liable to do or say anything.

    This was such an excellent facetious article and so well written. Outstanding! I feel for the track owners and staff who need to devote time and resources to defend against this idiocy.

    What, exactly, is the “wrong information”? If anyone knows anything about Laguna Seca, it’s Brandan Gillogly. He’s a racetrack geek if there ever was one.
    Or are you – like he was – being sarcastic?

    Bravo! Love the satire, perchance the author is from Massachusetts? I hear they are born with a lifetime supply! I hope the judge does the best thing and smacks then knuckle heads around. May the corkscrew live forever!

    Which is what, 15 miles up H-68 from Laguna Seca?
    To those who think Mr. Gillogly knows nothing about racing – and especially Laguna Seca – I suggest this: go up to his name at the top of this article and click on his name. That’ll sort out all of his articles on these pages. On that list, you will find several excellent pieces he has written about that track and his experiences there. He’s a knowledgeable about Laguna Seca as almost anyone you’ll find.

    We need to have those who lose lawsuits pay the winner’s legal fees.

    These fishing expeditions and frivolous lawsuits would stop.

    I recently built a house in Watsonville CA. Near their airport. And in certain weather conditions the use the alternate runway which has them buzzing directly over our house. I don’t like it but you know that airport was there long before I was. So I will just deal with it. Maybe if those people don’t like they should move some where else.

    Laguna Seca is part of our American heritage. It’s nothing more re than a land grab. Dig a little deeper and you will see what’s behind this coalition. Eff em.

    Great article! I used to live a few miles from the raceway as a kid. It was such a joy to go watch the races. Unfortunately this kind of thing is happening all over our country. Bandimere raceway in Denver just shut down because of people like this. It’s sad.

    Judges need to get their heads out of their collective rectum and ask just one question, as did Michigan’s Oakland County Circuit when a new sub tried to close the Oakland County Sportsman’s Club’s gun ranges: “who was there first?” Unfortunately that same honest judge (a rare bird indeed) did not preside over the same club’s Waterford Hills Raceway trial.

    Very simple, you know where you are moving, if you don’t like the noise move, the audacity of those who can truly believe that this most beautiful track has not been there since 1957 irritates me to the core. I have spent multiple vacations with my family and have a lifetime of memories of people I have met from all over the world that are true and genuine people who enjoy life and respect others. Maybe since you’re so rich and passionate about having your say, spend more time traveling away during race weekends instead of wasting your time trying to control the lives of other families passions.

    On September 17, 1987 Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at Laguna Seca Raceway , He Blessed that Beautiful little twisted track and the 50,000 people who had gathered to see him and celebrated mass too ! Shame on You who disrespect the Blessing of Pope John Paul II , how can You live with Yourself.

    You think that some cult head blessing the track is gonna make any difference to people that weren’t even born in ’87??

    First of all Laguna seca has been around since the late 50s. Laguna Seca Raceway is a paved road racing track in central California used for both auto racing and motorcycle racing, built in 1957 near both Salinas and Monterey, California, United States. It’s a world known track used to be called Mazda Laguna seca from 91-2012. I’ve seen tracks die because of housing developments buying land near a track knowing damn good and well there was a track there. Stop trying to take away what is American history. Because you don’t like how loud or annoying it can be. That goes for everything. History is history the track only has 36 legal event days 24 of which can only hold 5000 or fewer people. Cars can’t exceed 105db.

    105db is not that loud for a race car, nor is it damaging; and of course the noise level drops with the square of the distance as you get farther from the car.

    Developers like land with potential issues, like sound and smell. It’s cheaper.

    When I first started reading the article, I went back to the top, thinking it was a re-run from April 1st

    Cameron Ward has it right, “… the track only has 36 legal event days 24 of which can only hold 5000 or fewer people. Cars can’t exceed 105db.” The suit is not about the 36 legal events, it is about those running the track turning it into an all-day every-day happening by renting out to private auto clubs. The author chose to omit the facts, the lawsuit, it is not to close Laguna Seca, it is for Laguna Seca to abide by the terms of operation.

    “…the terms of operation…” are what, exactly? “…all-day every-day…”? Save the hyperbole for the HOA. Nobody here is buying it.

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