The Los Angeles Times reports that Monterey County is entertaining proposals from three separate entities to take control of the track, which has been losing around $250,000 per year according to a grand jury report. At the fore is SCRAMP and the International Speedway Corporation, a business owned by NASCAR's France family. The pairing is a strange one, since ISC tried taking the track from SCRAMP last year before withdrawing its bid. Next up, we have a local coalition called Friends of Laguna Seca. The final entry comes from Long Beach Grand Prix founder Chris Pook and a local fast-food restaurateur, Landon Hofman.
According to The Times, the process is still in the early stages. Monterey County communications officer Maia Carroll told the paper that all three groups have submitted a Request for Qualifications, ahead of a meeting on Monday with the county's committee. Monterey will issue an update on the process later next month, potentially calling for more detailed plans for the circuit or simply rejecting all three suitors.
But how did we get here? How is one of the world's finest race tracks in such dire trouble? After the ISC withdrew its bid for the track last September, SCRAMP worked with Monterey County officials to better manage the track, establishing a board of governors to manage things. But despite the non-profit's efforts, SCRAMP has faced intense criticism over its mismanagement at the circuit.
According to The Los Angeles Times, a report from a Monterey County Grand Jury said the non-profit "underreported income, juggled creditors and delayed payments to balance its books, and inappropriately used funds for capital improvements to meet operating costs." According to the same report, MRLS needs $2 million for short-term operating expenses, and $10 million in capital investments. The track's $250,000 losses are despite annual revenue of $10 to $15 million.