The non-profit Friends of Laguna Seca formed to restore the original vision of the Laguna Seca Recreation Area and revitalize it for a new generation of community enjoyment and economic benefit.
We are committed to preserving the historic racing legacy, creating a path to success and ensuring that Laguna Seca remains a vital engine to the local economy and our volunteer-driven organizations.
Local Team Committed to Fiscal Responsibility
Friends of Laguna Seca (Friends), a new non-profit public benefit corporation, has been formed to respond to the County of Monterey’s Request For Qualifications to manage the Laguna Seca Recreation Area.
Friends President Ross Merrill said, “We are committed to managing Laguna Seca with fiscal responsibility and for the benefit of our community. We’re driven by a passion for motorsports, a dedication to our community, and a desire to transform nearly six-decades of renowned racing legacy into a new engine for our local economy. Ultimately, our aim is to restore the raceway’s former glory.”
Friends’ team is led by General Manager Lauri Eberhart, a nationally recognized leader in speedway management and motorsports. Its Board also includes longtime business and community leaders with a history of Laguna Seca racing.
Eberhart said, “Laguna Seca Raceway is internationally recognized and perfectly positioned to establish a new precedent in motorsports at a time when racing, sport promotion and raceway management is evolving rapidly. Our goal is to incorporate modern trends in motorsports and bring new energy and ideas that can serve the surrounding business community. Equally important, we recognize and value the vital role of dedicated volunteers and how their participation benefits local philanthropy.”
Merrill commented, “Core to our management approach and key to future community benefit from Laguna Seca is that we are a non-profit organization, which enables re-investment in the raceway and supporting infrastructure.”
Friends Board member Ned Spieker added, “We are realistic about the challenges we face. We will have a huge responsibility to this community and to Laguna Seca visitors. Our first priority is to provide a high-quality experience to all, which stands in contrasts to for-profit companies whose first priority is to generate profits for their investors. Our approach will be to reinvest proceeds and make much-needed capital improvements to attract a new generation of visitors, achieve a self-sustaining enterprise and restore the original vision of Laguna Seca.”
The Friends Board includes key expertise in fiscal management, fundraising, planning, construction, design and motorsports. “Not only is our team deeply involved in this community, we know racing! We have excellent relationships in motorsports and will bring new event and partnership ideas to the table,” said board member Bruce Canepa.
The County of Monterey is in the process of evaluating RFQs and is expected to select a company to operate the Laguna Seca Recreation Area in the near future.
Revitalize | Reinvest | Reinvent
The Friends of Laguna Seca is a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing the Laguna Seca Recreation Area for the advancement of the greater community and the economy it serves.
Bruce is an automotive entrepreneur who owns and operates the world-renowned Canepa facility in Scotts Valley, California, that focuses on the sales, design, engineering, maintenance and restoration of significant road and race cars. A life-long race car driver, he has competed in everything from dirt and paved oval tracks to the world’s most famous road courses, as well as the legendary Pike’s Peak Hill Climb.
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, he grew up building model cars and racing anything he could lay his hands on. Working in his family’s auto dealership, he learned all the elements of the auto industry from mechanical and fabrication to bodywork and paint.
Bruce has been on the executive board of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the governing committee of the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion, and was one of the driving forces that brought both Porsche Rennsport IV and V to Laguna Seca in 2011 and 2015.
Jon is an avid automobile enthusiast and has participated in vintage racing, concours, and various other events for more than 20 years. He is passionate about technology and science and how they apply to the real world. His curiosity led him to a degree in math, computer science, and astro-physics before diving into computing. Jon has lived at the intersection of emerging tech, big markets, and exceptional entrepreneurs, which is how he met automotive and racing legend Gordon Murray. In addition to being a board member of Gordon Murray Design and other companies, he is a general partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Jon is also an advisor to the Revs Program at Stanford University, which has a mission to forge new scholarship and student experiences around the past, present and future of the automobile. He is also a Consulting Associate Professor for the Hasso Platner Institute of Design (d.school) at Stanford University focused on the pairing of user-centricity and deep science.
When not pursing the virtual, you can find Jon cutting metal and tinkering with cars and machinery.
Ross is the President and owner of Merrill Farms LLC, a production agriculture business that he created in 2000, which specializes in conventional and organically grown fresh vegetables and berries with 6000 farm acres under cultivation in the Salinas Valley and with the valuable assistance of over 400 capable and loyal employees.
Ross is a third generation family farmer who has remained active in the produce business for 40 years, growing fresh vegetables and fruit crops in California and Arizona. Ross has served on the Boards of several Agribusiness related companies, industry associations and a local charitable foundation during his career.
Ross is also an avid sports car racing enthusiast and has been actively involved in Porsche Club Racing and kart racing for more than three decades. Growing up on the family farm located within earshot of Laguna Seca Raceway has fueled his passion for motorsports and LSRA for most of his life.
Ross’ love for Monterey County, LSRA, and his business leadership in the local area gives him more than the skills and experience required to restore and revitalize LSRA into a state of the art facility that is beneficial for the entire community.
Thomas is a visionary leader who, during his 30 year executive career, has helped spearhead the organic revolution and the advancement of technology within the industry. Thomas possesses a proven track record of building highly effective teams and companies that continue to service and help grow the sector.
He founded Harbinger Group in Monterey focused on continuous innovation in the food industry, primarily in the area of produce. As CEO, Thomas delivers comprehensive development, as well as oversees market development, financial management, and operation management of Harbinger and the companies held under Harbinger’s umbrella, which include Wave Farms, Vertical Foods, Epic Foods and Fresh Product Partners.
In 1998, Thomas co-founded Food Source. From its inception, Thomas guided the business and grew it into a company worth $270 million dollars in seven years. Thomas and FoodSource accomplished this by investing in great people with unmatched levels of service to its clients. Recognizing the need to grow further, Thomas sold the business to a Fortune 500 company. He remained three more years in a strategic growth capacity and helped the enterprise reach $900 million in sales.
He has also been an enthusiastic participant in historic race car competitions for almost 20 years. He and his son enjoy racing together as members of the Monterey Bay Karters.
A native resident of Monterey Peninsula, Gordon has been a motorsports fan since youth. He attended his first race at Laguna Seca in 1966 fueling a lifelong passion for race cars, racing and motorsports.
Gordon opened his first automotive business in 1978 in downtown Carmel, specializing in European sports car repair and restoration. Gordon would continue to develop several more automotive related businesses and his knowledge of automotive history would lead him to over 10 years as Specialist with the 200+ year old auction house, Christie’s International, followed by 5 years with Bonhams Motoring Department.
Gordon’s expertise in public relations, marketing, sales, and the automotive industry, has been called upon to consult for many successful local, national, and international brand campaigns. Collectively, Gordon has been responsible for well over $250 million dollars in collector car sales.
Along with being the CEO and President of McCall Events, Inc., he is the Director of Motorsports for the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, the Co-Founder of both The Quail Motorsports Gathering and The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel and the Collections Development Director for The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Warren ‘Ned’ Spieker, Jr.
Ned has been interested in vintage car racing at Laguna Seca and around the world for more than 15 years. He was active in the Laguna Seca executive committee and in the overall review of the raceway activities from 2004 to 2012. Ned has contributed several million dollars over the years in support of Laguna Seca’s preservation and has helped organize many track events.
A lifelong local resident of the San Francisco Peninsula and a homeowner in Carmel, Ned’s primary business interest has been in real estate. He has been involved in many venture capital investments as well as California agriculture investments including almonds, wine grapes, rice, and cattle. His venture capital investments span industries including technology, clean energy, consumer marketing, banking, and travel marketing.
His diverse business background gives him the ability to help businesses and organizations like Laguna Seca with challenges as they arise.
Ned currently is the founder, chairman and majority owner of a private company that builds, owns and operates large scale communities for senior citizens. He has actively served, for decades, on many private, public, and philanthropic boards in support of multiple community, cultural and civic causes and interests.
Lauri is a well-known motorsports management business executive with deep experience in the motorsport facility operations and management. She served as Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, and General Counsel of Charlotte Motor Speedway from 1993 to 2008. She then joined Richmond International Raceway as Vice President of Marketing. She operated, promoted and managed premiere motorsports events.
She has demonstrated acumen in motorsports management, capital raising activities, contract negotiations with Fortune 500 companies, investor relations, corporate transactions, capital improvement projects, and total deals valued in excess of $5 billion. Lauri has honed the skills of speedway business operations, consumer marketing, corporate sales, facilities management, crisis management, sports promotion, creative thinking and public speaking.
She was awarded the 2007 Charlotte Businesswoman of the Year Award, 2004 Business North Carolina Legal Elite Award and 1998 Charlotte Business Journal Women in Business Award, among many others. She a current Board Member of the North Carolina Motorsports Association and the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation, past Board Member of the NCBA Sports and Entertainment Counsel, and past Board Member of TRAC (The Racing Attorney’s Conference), and Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.