The vast scale of the USA, with its wonderfully diverse 50 states extending across a huge land mass from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts, provides excitement to many a happy explorer.
In addition to its many well-known attractions and monuments, such as Disneyland, the Empire State building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Time Square and the White House, the great American outdoors is another big selling point for US travel.
Think of the huge wilderness of Alaska, the Grand Canyon, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi river, the Appalachians, the Great Smoky Mountains and the mighty Rockies. Picture the Everglades of Florida, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks and the spectacular Niagara Falls. There is much to see and much to enjoy.
Big bustling cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia offer a plethora of further delights to visitors.
California is home to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and the “Golden State” provides sun, surf and sand along hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline, as well as the glitz and glamour of its cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. California’s coves, deserts, mountains and forests can be explored for years, whilst the Hollywood Hills provide endless storylines for adventure after adventure.
If you plan to stay close to the circuit there are a number of hotel and motel options in the city of Salinas itself, which is around 12 miles from the track, has a population of 150,000 and is big enough to offer a range of restaurants and things to do in the evening. The area also offers plenty of choice in terms of rented apartments and properties, guesthouses and B&Bs, in the city and the nearby countryside.
Monterey also has its own charms and is about the same distance from the circuit as Salinas. It is a smaller city (population around 30,000) but is a popular destination for visitors and therefore has lots of guest accommodation with motels and hotels ranging from $50 per night up to $400 in the local area.
The coastal city of Santa Cruz is around a 50 minute drive north of Salinas up the State Route 1 highway and is a popular beach resort community with lots of further possibilities in terms of places to stay.
Salinas has traditionally been a working-class community with much of the local economy based on agriculture, earning the city the nickname of the ‘Salad Bowl of the World’. As well as having an international race track close by Salinas is best known as the birthplace of the great American novelist John Steinbeck who based much of his work on life in the local area.
The streets of the city in its historic downtown area provide a glimpse of an America of days gone-by and the National Steinbeck Center can be found at the northern end of Main St.
Nearby Monterey, once an important fishery and port, was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico and is said to have had California's first theater, first public library, first printing press and newspaper. This area of California has drawn in an artistic community for many years and modern-day attractions include Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row (also the name of a Steinbeck novel), Fisherman's Wharf and a buzzing local jazz scene.
The Monterey Peninsula is located in between two of California’s most exciting cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Central Coast - a four hundred mile stretch of coastline which features Big Sur, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, with Yosemite National Park and the Santa Lucia Mountains within easy reach.
California has an enchanting alternative culture and is home to actors, activists, artists, civil rights experts, environmentalists, hippies, surfers and many more progressive types. There is a forward thinking but chilled out approach to life here and the stunning natural surroundings, wide sandy beaches, rugged coastline and beautiful mountains are key to the vibe.
This is a place to go with the flow. Though you most likely want your own transport for that, so having your own car or motorbike will be essential to your California dream. Things move fast in the Golden State but take it slowly and enjoy the ride down the coast through Big Sur on Hwy-1, carved out of cliffs hundreds of feet above the ocean. Leave your car or bike behind when you can and take a hike into the forest or mountain paths and you will soon leave behind any sign of the manmade environment.
California produces most of the fresh produce consumed in the US and it is easy to find fresh, healthy, well-prepared meals wherever you go. The State also cultivates more than 90% of the country’s wine and local breweries are ubiquitous so good wine or beer will never be far away.Remember, Americans tip well so don’t forget to do so too, barmen and waiters are looking for 15-20% on top of food or drink prices.
Frankie Chili was the only rider to compete in all 20 races that took place at Laguna Seca during its first period on the WorldSBK calendar, from 1995 to 2004
Chili was also the first European rider to win in WorldSBK at Laguna Seca after 17 attempts. He took victory in the first race of the 2003 Laguna Seca round.