WeatherTech Laguna Seca

SALINAS, Calif. – Drivers Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson and the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) team will journey west for the ninth leg of the 2021 Michelin Pilot Challenge, visiting historic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif. for the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120.

The two-hour race on the 11-turn, 2.238 mile course is scheduled to go green on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 7:35 p.m. ET.

All IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races are streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio also provides live audio coverage of select Michelin Pilot Challenge practice, qualifying sessions and full-length coverage of all races.

“I’m very excited to be back racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Johnson. “It’s always a great time and the track has such great history. My favorite part of the track has been the turns 3, 4, and 5 complex. I love how technical it is and it’s very fast. I have not won yet but I’m hoping with the whole BHA/MJR crew, we can make it happen this year.”

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.

When last behind the wheel of the BHA Universal Coating No. 54 Hyundai Veloster N TCR car, Johnson and Simpson placed eighth on at the Road America 120 on a slick, rain-drenched track at famed Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

In 2019 at Laguna Seca, hard luck again befell Johnson and Simpson, as they were forced to withdraw from the race when running in fifth place, the car, with Johnson at the wheel, was hit from behind and in the left front, leading to a broken axle and the end of the team’s day.

“I am looking forward to getting back into our Hyundai Veloster N TCR car this weekend,” said Simpson. “It’s always fun coming out to the west coast. Laguna is a great race. Michael and I had a podium finish here in 2018. It’s certainly a track that Michael drives well. We have high expectations for this weekend.”

“(Laguna) was the first track I raced on when I came to America back in 2005 in A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motor Sports, so it’s a bit of a milestone for me. And I have raced her many times in pro-type racing. I am looking forward to this weekend and we will be looking for a podium finish.”

The weather forecast on race day in Salinas looks ideal for teams and spectators alike. Conditions are expected to be partly cloudy with a high in the low 70s. Winds will be from the west-northwest at 13 miles per hour.

After almost exactly a month off from competition, Johnson, Simpson and the BHA team will find themselves on the opposite coast for the 10th installment of the 2021 IMSA Pilot Challenge, the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. The two-hour race on the 3.27 mile-long track is set for a 2:05 p.m. start on Sunday, Oct. 10.