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MONK: A Dry Lagoon of My Early Summer Night’s Dream

The relentless infatuation with my first racing love, writes Gradient Racing’s Sheena Monk…

Photo: Gradient Racing

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” Maybe Shakespeare is right about that.

My allure with Laguna Seca has been shrouded in enchantment since I first laid eyes on the 2.238-mile circuit that flows elegantly within the rolling Northern California countryside.

It was Car Week 2012 and if I only knew what that dry lakebed-turned-race track, roaring with priceless classic cars, had in store for my future.

But the thunder through that usually quiet valley on a searing August afternoon ran through my veins and sparked a curiosity in my subconscious, later sending me on the meandering road of my motorsports quest.

Like any good love story, we went our separate ways.

Years had passed since we last saw each other, but I still spoke fondly in a 2017 video online that I was most looking forward to the infamous Turn 8 complex the following year during my first full season of IMSA competition.

With my racing innocence on full display, I even mispronounced the name of the world-famous corner, further showcasing just how much I was underestimating Laguna’s ability to be something different than I wanted.

I would liken those comments to getting a partner’s name tattooed too early in a relationship since, as many of you know, the cutesy admiration I expressed didn’t age well.

The summary of my encounters with the Raceway is as follows, in order of annual appearance: a shunt that quite nearly could have resulted in death, a self-inflicted spin likely caused by my nervousness, briefly leading the race off sequence and finishing ninth, an uneventful race finishing ninth, getting spun backward down the Corkscrew on a restart with my co-driver eventually crashing out, and finally, this past weekend’s contact six corners into the race that put our JG Wentworth Acura NSX over 20 laps down.

Any sane person might ask what I’m chasing here. And admittedly, it’s a lustful obsession for the mystique that so painfully evades me, which intensified exponentially during the harsh rejection of our first outing.

But anyone who has ever felt this kind of sobering passion knows it’s worth fighting for and we all go to unconscionable limits for matters of the heart.

To quote Shakespeare again, “A good dream, like a good play, should not be forgotten.”

He may be referring to images in one’s sleep, but with a little poetic license, I’d rather interpret it aspirationally.

My desire for a race win at Laguna Seca rages within, and while this year especially was a missed opportunity for a strong result, I’m constantly reflecting and appreciating that the pursuit is where the significance and the beauty lie.

It has hardly been kind, but the dream is still alive that one of these years, we will have a race that finally culminates my unwavering affinity for this track. By literary standards, it would mean resolve with Laguna Seca, my first motorsports love, but it certainly won’t be the end.

Sheena Monk is a IMSA race-winner, driving alongside Katherine Legge in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura GTD team Gradient Racing.

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