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Prestigious racing school at Laguna Seca owes county $700,000

By KELLY NIX

Published: April 20, 2012

COUNTY SUPERVISORS Tuesday agreed to give a racing school at Laguna Seca more time to pay $700,000 it owes in overdue rental fees for its facilities at the track.

The supervisors, with Dave Potter absent, voted to amend the county’s 10-year contract with Skip Barber Racing School so the school can pay $708,433.74 in past-due rent over the next 18 months.

Skip Barber rents the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for 128 days per year, has an office at the complex and holds racing classes year-round. Monthly rent can be as high as $120,000 in busy months, when thrill-seeking customers pay big bucks to pretend to be Mario Andretti. But rental payments to the county, which owns Laguna Seca, have been seriously late.

“We worked out payment plan with them so they will be paying us off the money they owe, plus interest,” Monterey County Parks director John Pinio told The Pine Cone Wednesday.

The Skip Barber school, which has been behind in payments since fiscal year 2010-2011, has a concession agreement with the Laguna Seca Recreation Area until Dec. 31, 2015.

The payment schedule, which began this week, calls for the school to pay prorated monthly installments until Oct. 17, 2013. The payments range from $34,762.41 in February, to $224,217.81 in October, and are in addition to regular monthly rent during that time.

“It’s a schedule they have worked out based on the [business] forecast for the racing school,” Pinio said.

The $700,000 in late payments Skip Barber owes don’t include interest and penalties through fall 2013, which both sides agreed amount to $137,063.82.

Per the new agreement, the Skip Barber school will surrender 28 days of the 128 track days in its rental agreement in 2012 and 2013, giving the school 100 track days in each of those years. In return, the county will give the school a $100,000 rental credit. Those days will allow the county to rent the track to other vendors.

The revenue from the Laguna Seca rental program, which includes the racing school, is used exclusively for the recreation area and has no impacts on the county’s general fund.

If Skip Barber fails to make ongoing payments, the company will be required to pay the entire unpaid balance immediately, according to the agreement.