Racing, Programs & Other Entertainments At Sonoma Raceway

Photos: Jerry Bowles

We are very fortunate to live in a region of California that has both natural beauty and culture in abundance, with world-class dining and entertainment in the greater Bay Area and Sacramento. The beauty of our rugged coastline is known around the world. And our wine country with it’s beautiful grass and oak covered hills, rolling vineyards and fine wine, has earned a reputation that puts it in a class of it’s own. In the middle of those beautiful rolling hills is another gem, the famous Sonoma Raceway.

Sonoma Raceway, formerly know as Sear’s Point Raceway, and more recently as Infineon Raceway, is known for being an excellent road course and drag strip. The raceway, situated originally on 720 acres of former dairy land, was built in 1968. Since those early days the raceway has expanded to 1600 acres and has become one of the premier racing venues in the country. Every year the raceway makes headlines with major events, such as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the IZOD IndyCar and NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing. These events draw tremendous numbers of fans, and national and international attention. Between the major races, most people forget that the raceway is even there.  This is unfortunate since the raceway has scheduled activities 340 days a year.

The raceway provides frequent track days where licensed racers can test their cars and motorcycles in real race conditions. These opportunities provide interesting and up-close glimpses into the world of track racing. But not all events are for those with a racing license.  
   
On many Wednesday nights there are two events running concurrently. The first is the Wednesday Night Drags program, which will be starting its 27th year with the 2015 season. The program provides a safe, controlled and legal place to drag race their cars.  All that is required is a valid driver’s license and a safely operating vehicle or motorcycle. The second event is the Sonoma Drift program. Drifting is a skill that allows drivers with high horsepower cars to perform high-speed slides while driving through a marked course.
   
Much like the Drags, the Sonoma Drift was created to provide a safe and controlled place for drivers to practice their drifting skills. The driving skills-building does not stop there.
Situated within the Sonoma Raceway complex is the Simraceway Performance Driving Center. The center provides instruction on safe driving for teens and adults as well performance driving training, where the driver gets to use their own vehicle. For those who aspire to attain a racing license, there are programs using high performance racing cars and advanced driving techniques.
 
For those who wish to step back in time to the heyday of road racing there are vintage motoring events. Two recent events were the Classic Sports Racing Group (CSRG) David Love Memorial, and the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival, which was sponsored by the Sports Car Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) and Sonoma Raceway.  These two events provided enthusiasts with the chance to not only walk the paddock and talk with owners and drivers, but also to see multi-million dollar classic cars racing hard, wheel to wheel, in simple yet elegant machinery. These race events and many others at Sonoma Raceway provide a fun and inexpensive day trip and another great example of the activities our area has to offer.

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