Lore of legends at Laguna Seca

One of the most beautiful, and relentlessly challenging, natural-terrain road circuits in the world is about to join yours truly in clocking 65 years. Set amid the powder-dry hills of the Monterey Pensinsula, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as it’s known today, has hosted everything from IndyCar to the Can-Am and Trans-Am series to one of the world’s most celebrated gatherings of vintage racing vehicles during Monterey Car Week each August. Driving a new Volkswagen Jetta GLI on its twisting and diving blacktop, I learned personally that you, too, can see Elvis by reefing your ride hard and fast into the top of the Corkscrew. Only the best get to cross its finish line first, or second. Read on.

In gathering up its greatest racing moments, WeatherTech has dug deep to recall a truly stellar outing. Laguna Seca was three years old when it hosted the Pacific Grand Prix in 1960. In those years, that meant people from every global racing discipline were liable to show up and grab for a quick paycheck in a highly pleasing environment. One such luminary was Sir Stirling Moss, a driver I got to know, and interview several times, late in his illustrious life. The race organizers divided the race into a pair of 200-mile heats, divided by a break for necessary repairs. A year before his nearly fatal crash at Goodwood, Moss grabbed the overall win as you see above, in a Lotus 19 with Coventry Climax power. The bigger news, arguably, was who finished second overall: Carroll Shelby, in one of his final starts as a driver, wheeling a Maserati Birdcage. Post-race, Shelby griped that he would have beaten Moss if he hadn’t had to stop and force down nitroglycerine pills to quiet the chest pains that soon ended his driving career and eventually resulted in a heart transplant.

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