Born in Exeter, England, Gil Campbell first realized she loved auto racing at the age of three. Now this former teacher is CEO and General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The track draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to the Central Coast every year for world-class race weekends. Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, Roger Penske and Hélio Castroneves have raced here, as has motorcycle star Casey Stoner. After living in Monterey County for more than a decade, Campbell admires the area’s viticulture as much as the sport of speed.
“It’s a heaven for great wines. My favorites include Robert Talbott Vineyards, Kali Hart Chardonnay andManzoni Estate Syrah and Pinot Noir. Bernardus Winery’s Ingrid’s Vineyard Chardonnay is ideal on a lazy summer afternoon at the Bernardus Lodge’s spa, followed by lunch at Wicket’s Bistro. I also loveMcIntyre Vineyards—the scent and being of the Santa Lucia Mountains dominate these wines.
“Next door to Tarpy’s Roadhouse, my go-to locals’ spot, is the Ventana Vineyards tasting room. Their red wines totally please the palate. In addition, organic and sustainable vineyards are very important in this region and none more so than Morgan Winery—those wines have personality.
“In dining, I prefer out-of-the-way places with a local feel, some of which are also popular with the drivers who come to Laguna Seca. These include Restaurant 1833, with its old Monterey-style architecture; theCannery Row Brewing Company’s incredible burgers and more than 100 beers; Montrio Bistrodowntown; and Baja Cantina, a Mexi-Cali style joint covered in racing memorabilia that pours the best margaritas in town.