Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival – A Furious Flashback
Story and photos by Roy Sorenson
The Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival, presented by Jaguar and the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association was held over three sun-soaked days at Sonoma Raceway, nestled in the world famous Sonoma Valley of California. Sports car fans and aficionados enjoyed the highly acclaimed wine from this region mixed with the whine of vintage race car engines. A nice match if you ask us!
Over 400 racers took center stage for this invitational event. The program salutes race cars prepared to the rules of the era in which they were originally raced. This year SVRA featured the Sensational ‘60s, saluting the design, technology, and social developments that accumulated in many of the racing series and icons that are celebrated today.
During the event race fans got to see 13 different race groups competing on the twelve turn, two and a half mile road course – a layout similar to Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca but different in ways. The track is one of only two road courses used by NASCAR, and the IndyCar Series celebrated their season finale here last year. It’s a challenging track that drivers love, and it provides a lot of great viewing areas for the fans. We can attest to Sonoma Raceway’s challenging course due to attending and driving in several track days here over the years.
Saturday’s qualifying races were well attended with large fields of cars filling the track. In between races you could sign up for a Jaguar unique motorsports experience. In the centerfield area, Jaguar set up a slalom course where fans could get behind the wheel of a new Jag and try to post the fastest time through the course. Sitting next to you might be Le Mans winning, former Indy car driver Davey Jones, or maybe Roberto Guerrero – former F1 and IndyCar driver!
Another fun driving experience was at the Landrover booth. Sign up at the booth, and they shuttled you out back to an off-road course nestled in the hills above the race track. You got to drive a new Landrover through some hair raising obstacles!
On Saturday afternoon a select group of race cars had the chance to drive into the historic town square in Sonoma (with police escort) to be part of the Historic Race Car Festival charity event that raised money for the Speedway Children’s Charites. The event was open to anyone who wanted to buy a food/wine tasting ticket. The public loved seeing the cars, and the drivers loved the spectacular local cuisine.
Sunday got serious. Saturday’s qualifying narrowed down the fields, and put the fastest cars on the track for the final races of the weekend. The Historic Trans Am class is always fun to watch as those guys are very competitive, and the cars are closely matched. It’s very tight racing.
While some fans love seeing the big bodied Trans Am machines, others enjoy the Group 1 cars. This class is made up of 1925 – 1941 race cars. The larger-than-life roadsters with their supercharged straight eight’s scream by you, their drivers leaning out of the cockpit during the sharp turns, it’s like stepping back in time, when men were men!
The SVRA has found momentum here in Sonoma. Judging by the turnout, the hoopla and the amazing racing exhibitions, we think this fun event will become a staple. Later this fall, make sure and check out the Sonoma Raceway website to see when they might make a return engagement!