Laguna Seca Preview

SALINAS, Calif. – This week, Michael Johnson, Stephen Simpson and the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) team will be California dreaming, as they head west to the Golden State seeking a successful run in the next leg of the 2022 IMSA Pilot Challenge, the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120. 

Set for Saturday, April 30, with a start time of 7 p.m. ET, the two-hour race takes place outside the central coastal town of Monterey, Calif. at the 2.238-mile, 11-corner WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

All IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races are streamed live in the United States on Peacock. IMSA Radio also provides live audio coverage of select Michelin Pilot Challenge practice, qualifying sessions and full-length coverage of all races.

“I’m extremely excited to get back racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Johnson. “This track is super iconic and always a lot of fun. Everyone has been working hard so I hope we can turn our season around here and get back on the podium.”

While the track at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca is a favorite of racers and fans worldwide, many focus on one specific section—officially Turns 8 and 8A—or more commonly known as The Corkscrew.

The Corkscrew is a one-of-a-kind turn in motorsports. Here’s what makes the hard-left, hard-right combination so spectacular:

At the apex to Turn 8 (the lefthander and entry to The Corkscrew), the elevation change is a 12 percent drop. By the time a race car reaches the apex of Turn 8A (the righthander), the elevation is at its steepest – an 18 percent drop. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A—the equivalent of a 5½ story drop—in only 450 feet of track length. From Turn 8 to Turn 9, the elevation falls 109 feet, or just over 10 stories.

In their last outing, Johnson and Simpson, at the wheel of the Universal Coating No. 54 Hyundai Elantra N TCR car, were challenged by limited running time and changing weather conditions, racing to a ninth-place finish at the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 on Thursday at Sebring International Speedway in Sebring, Fla.

Last year at Laguna Seca, Johnson and Simpson had good pace but couldn’t put it all together, placing sixth.

“It’s always fun going to Laguna Seca,” said Simpson. “It hasn’t been that long since we were there last season. The key point about Laguna Seca that sets it apart from the other tracks is that it is very abrasive on the tires. The tire degradation is very high. So, that is definitely going to play a part near the end of each of stints in the race. The last 20 minutes of the race will be interesting because of that.

“Michael and I have had a fast car the first two races of the season but no real result to show for it. We are looking to change that. I think our best showing at Laguna Seca was a second-place finish. So that is the goal. The team has been working hard since Sebring. I am looking forward to getting to the west coast and having success this weekend.”

Weather should not play a factor in the race, as the forecast for Saturday is calling for clear skies with temperatures in the high 60s. Winds are expected to be from the west and measure between 10 and 20 miles per hour. 

In two weeks, Johnson, Simpson and the BHA team will be back in the Midwest for the next installment of the IMSA Pilot Challenge, the Mid-Ohio 120. The two-hour race at the 2.258-mile, 13-corner Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio is scheduled to go green at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 14.