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Original Issue

Bartenders' Recipe for a Dry Lake

When road racing had to be abandoned at Del Monte two years ago, the local bartenders' union spear-headed a new and beautiful course at nearby Laguna Seca

In a setting of exceptional beauty on the Monterey Peninsula, between the Pacific Ocean and the lovely Salinas valley, with the foothills of John Steinbeck's wild Santa Lucia mountains beyond, lies the Laguna Seca race course. It is one of the newest and best of this country's half dozen spanking new road-racing circuits, and it is an object of particular pride in the eyes of the sports car devotees in and around San Francisco. Nob Hill will empty, so to speak; outlanders will congregate; and, in all, some 50,000 persons will fleck the adjacent hillsides next weekend when Laguna Seca stages its second race meeting.

A story goes with it. Latter-day Forty-Niners brought news of the postwar sports car movement from the East. In 1950 they tried it at Palm Springs in the South and at Pebble Beach on the Peninsula. For seven years some of the best sports car racing in the U.S. was seen at the exhilarating, but hazardous, Pebble Beach road course (also well known as Del Monte, after the property owners). Then, in 1956, a driver was killed and the course was closed.

A revival movement soon started, led by Lou Gold, an official of the local waiters and bartenders union (a powerful group in tourist-crowded Monterey). A civic group raised money and negotiated for a quiet corner of the Army's nearby Fort Ord.

It was a success story. Scenes on the following four pages are from the inaugural Sports Car Club of America races last November, at which 50,000 spectators had an extraordinarily clear view of some extraordinarily fine racing. Laguna Seca, the normally dry lake for which the course was named (see photograph at left), is no longer dry after a season of heavy rains, but that will only add more beauty to the backdrop of this delightful event.

Down and around one of Laguna Seca's spectacular corners goes Bill Love's red AC Bristol (top) on the way to victory. Below, Carroll Shelby's three-liter Maserati passes an invalided racer.

Scope of the view is one of Laguna Seca's strongest spectator attractions. Vantage points like this can command 80% of the racecourse. Wise racegoers bring picnic supplies for day's outing.

Spin-Outs are common on tricky corners: here are three cars which visited the hay bales in Laguna Seca's inaugural. The Alfa Romeo above is about to spin in avoiding the MG. All recovered, and the Alfa and Lotus (below) won their classes.