It’s a rite of passage for any visitor, a crucible to test the amount of petrol flowing in the gear head’s blood stream. How much do you love racing? Are you willing to trek up the hill? What is this sacred rite? It’s the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s more than just a corner on a racetrack, it’s a place of legend of that has brought victory and defeat to countless racers, separating the brave and the crazy. It’s a blind downhill left turn that takes you from the top elevation at Laguna Seca, to the earth dropping away in milliseconds to a six story race to the bottom of the hill and the last two turns of the track.
It’s an icon of racing never duplicated anywhere else in the world. For those of us that have seen it, it belongs on the same pedestal as the greatest corners in motorsport including Eau Rouge, The Wall of Champions (Canada), and the Nouvelle Chicane in Monaco. It’s the site of a pass so good it’s known as “The Pass.” It’s that good and its right here in California.
The pass comes near the 4:30 mark.
The rapid elevation change creates the spectacle, but the real show of this corner is that it’s the culmination of all things in one corner that will put car and driver to the test. The rapid decision-making needed to make the corner, the faith that the blind downhill entrance will still be there and the bravery needed to punch the loud pedal on the downhill exit as the car’s suspension compresses to its maximum and the floor pan bottoms out on the curbs. The Corkscrew is the final exam of a racer and a car. You might nail the Andretti Hairpin and the off-camber turns leading up the Rahal Straight, but the Corkscrew will expose you as the racer you are, or the pending speed bump you will become.
It’s a trial for car and driver, but luckily for us regular Joes and Janes, it’s also among the best spectating areas in existence. Laguna Seca, generally, provides multiple viewing areas that rival most other tracks. The various elevation changes give fans great access for watching and taking photos. The Cork Screw puts the fan up close, unlike many modern racecourses. Close enough to get a face full of dust if a car drops a wheel off the track. With a medium to long telephoto lens a fan will feel like they are on the track itself. It’s one of the few corners where the distance between media access and fan access is so small. Over the years we have achieved photographic results from fan areas that are on par with those captured from media-only areas.
If you’re a fan of racing and you haven’t been to Laguna Seca, then dopeslap yourself and make some plans to visit. Pack some comfortable shoes because if you want to keep your gearhead membership you need to trek up the hill and commune with the racing Gods.
Enjoy some more videos featuring the Cork Screw: