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Weather shaping up for Sea Otter Classic, organizer says

Published March 30, 2023

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Despite California’s record amount of rain and snow, Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, home to the Sea Otter Classic, is in good shape and should pose no issues for exhibitors and consumers at the April 19 through April 22 show, said Frank Yohannan, Sea Otter’s chief executive officer.

“I went there Tuesday to meet with Laguna Seca management and did a drive around. It’s surprisingly in pretty good shape,” Yohannan told BRAIN Wednesday. “There’s some hillsides that have gotten soft, but they have crews out shoring up those areas with granite and gravel. None of the walkways we use are affected and are in really good shape,” he added.

While predicting the weather in storm-plagued California is iffy at best, current long-range weather models are forecasting that the Monterey area will enjoy highs in the low 60s during the day with sunshine. “It’s looking much better weather-wise,” said Yohannan, noting that athlete registration, a key factor, is on par with last year. Nonetheless, he expects racers and consumers to monitor the weather right up until Sea Otter opens for business. 

Still, wet weather has forced track management to close one off-site campground normally used during Sea Otter. Other than that, all campgrounds are open and fully booked for the event with some 7,000 campers and RV owners expected to call the raceway home for a few days, Yohannan added.

Sea Otter, now owned by Life Time, is also on track to be the biggest event in its 33-year history. Sarah Timlek, Sea Otter’s sales director, said 519 exhibitors (as of March 28) representing approximately 900 brands, have bought space at the venue. The number of e-bike companies has soared with more than 40 different e-bike brands registered to exhibit. 

“International countries — more than 30 — have also bought space and that’s a surprise,” she said. While traditional exhibitors from Taiwan, China, the U.K. and Western Europe will be on hand, consumers will find new exhibitors from Belgium, South Africa, Finland, Denmark and India. Ford’s Bronco division, Winnebago, Mazda and a number of so-called “overland” companies are in the mix as well.  “It’s just really interesting and it’s really exciting,” Timlek added. 

Another high point for the event has been the response to Sea Otter’s first-ever Industry Day to be held Thursday, April 20. Holly Colson, Sea Otter’s marketing director, said more than 300 people representing about 150 retail outlets, distributors, service supply companies like SmartEtailing, as well as bike share, bike rental and internet businesses have signed on. Registered retailers are offered free admission to the four-day festival. 

The Industry Day list includes big name operators like Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Competitive Cyclist, REI, Jenson and distributors like BTI and the UK’s Madison Cycles. Independent retail owners and managers attending include Landis Cyclery, Mellow Velo, Ashland Electric Bikes, Sioux Falls Bicycle Company, Visalia Cyclery plus a score of others.

The National Bicycle Dealers Assocation will also offer a one-day P2 profitably workshop on Thursday focusing on business fundamentals, store layout and design, maximizing service center profits and consumer acquisition. The 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. workshop fee is $300 including snacks, lunch and a gift bag. Dealers can pre-register on the NBDA website. Industry participants get a four-day pass to the event as well as an industry social hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Yohannan said when staff began to put together plans for Industry Day he projected no more than 75 dealers and associated companies would sign up. But interest mushroomed. “As I look out over the next two or three years, Thursday at Sea Otter could be a gangbuster Industry Day,” he said. While Thursday has been typically the kickoff for the Classic, traditionally attendance that day lagged behind the following three days. 

The Industry Day follows the three-day Sea Otter Summit conference held at Monterey's Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row. Unlike previous editions, the management summit does not overlap with the first day of the festival this year: the Summit opens with a reception Monday, has two full days of sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a traditional closing dinner at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Wednesday evening. The festival opens with the Industry Day on Thursday. The festival is open to consumers from Thursday through Sunday.

More information on the Summit is available at Information on the Industry Day is at

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