March 31, 2018, will serve as the final day to use "Mazda Raceway Laguna" as the official name of the legendary road course located in Monterey, California.
In a relationship dating back to the 2001 season, the sponsorship between Laguna Seca and Mazda went to the extraordinary lengths of renaming the circuit Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Monterey County. Despite the awkward timing of April Fool's Day, the 2.2-mile track and surrounding property will revert to Laguna Seca, which sprang to life in 1957.
"Mazda's been a great partner for 17 years, and everything they've brought to the track has been amazing," Steve Fields, the track's executive director of corporate development, told RACER. "This has been an expected transition, and we've been working to prepare for it in advance."
Mazda public relations director Jeremy Barnes says the decision to cease its sponsorship of Laguna Seca came after great deliberation.
"It was a very hard decision to make after 17 wonderful years of supporting a very special racing facility," he said. "We regularly evaluate all of our marketing programs, both from a spend and a marketing basis, and with this, we made the decision it was time to move onto other opportunities. It's not one we made hastily, and we wish all the best to our friends who manage the track, to Monterey County, and all the race fans who adore the venue."
The upcoming return to "Laguna Seca" coincides with a welcome restoration in the partnership between the county and SCRAMP, the first and only stewards of the circuit since its formation 60 years ago. Ongoing upgrades to the aged facility continue to modernize the park that houses the 11-turn track, and with a chance to seek new corporate involvement next year, Fields is confident the April 1 changeover will have a positive outcome.
"What it means to us is that we have the opportunity to reconnect with longtime fans who still call us 'Laguna Seca,'" he added. "And it lets us go back to the table with the suitors who've come to us over the years and an opportunity to expand what we can do with the other auto manufacturers."