I’m excited to be heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this week for the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup season finale (not to be confused with the Invitational in October). Ashton will be running, and I’ll help her try to finish the season on a high note and close in on a top-ten championship spot.

The MX-5 Cup season finale is in conjunction with the IMSA WeatherTech and Continental Tire Series event. It will be bittersweet to be there since I’m not competing, but I’m excited to cheer on the Freedom Autosport Mazdas as they go for their seventh-straight ST victory there.

Monterey and the area around the track is one of the most beautiful places we visit on the motorsports calendar. When we do get a little time away from the track, I have some favorite places to drive, run and eat.

Car of choice for cruising down the PCH!

Car of choice for cruising down the PCH!

Driving Roads
I love driving the Pacific Coast Highway, including 17-mile Drive through Pebble Beach, south from Monterey to Big Sur. What I enjoy most is how different and distinct it is from any other coastline I’ve driven. I grew up on the East Coast, and the coastline is beautiful there, but it’s mostly just sandy white beaches. This stretch of California coastline is totally different, with a lot of rocky elevation, and it’s really breathtaking in a different way. This stretch of the PCH includes Bixby Creek Bridge, a famous landmark that Mazda uses in some of their commercials. Don’t let the word “creek” fool you: it’s a really impressive bridge that crosses high over a deep gorge.

The drive from Monterey up toward Santa Cruz blew me away when I did it as an alternate drive to the San Francisco airport once. The 101 was backed up, so I drove north along the coast instead, and it was an incredible surprise!

A view from my favorite trail outside downtown Monterey toward Pacific Grove.

A view from my favorite trail outside downtown Monterey toward Pacific Grove.

Running Trails
The Monterey Peninsula has a running trail that goes right through Cannery Row and out toward Pacific Grove. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail is one of my favorite running trails, with beautiful houses on one side and amazing Pacific Ocean views on the other.

Still can't beat the beauty at MRLS itself!

Still can’t beat the beauty at MRLS itself!

Baja Cantina in Carmel Valley, which is a fun drive from Mazda Raceway, is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. In downtown Monterey, and actually owned by the folks who have Baja Cantina, is Turn 12. There are only 11 turns at Mazda Raceway, so Turn 12 is the next stop after the track! They have great food and a lot of racing memorabilia.

There are some great places on the wharf for seafood, of course, specifically one that Jonathan Bomarito introduced us to because he’s from Monterey. It’s called Old Fisherman’s Grotto, and it’s really good.

The Cannery Row Brewing Company is another good casual dinner spot right in the heart of Cannery Row and a place we’ve been several times for casual dinner meetings.