Sonoma Raceway Featured Packages
Sonoma Raceway History
Sonoma, CA 95476
Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point is one of America’s busiest racing facilities. Formerly known as Infineon Raceway, the track underwent a name change to Sonoma Raceway at the end of 2012.
Once each year, the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams run on a 1.99-mile road course at the track about 40 minutes north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. But there is racing of one kind of another going on somewhere across 900 acres on the property on an average of 340 days each year.
In addition to the NASCAR road course, Sonoma Raceway features a drag strip where the National Hot Rod Association holds a national event each season. The American Le Mans series races on the road course, as do Superbike motorcycles, amateur or professional Sports Car Club of America cars, vintage race cars and driving schools teaching the craft of racing to drivers of just about every skill level.
The Sonoma Valley is famous for its wines, but Sonoma Raceway makes it famous for its whines - the whines of powerful racing engines - as well.
The facility was built in 1968 after Robert Marshall Jr. and Jim Coleman came up with idea to build a race course while on a hunting trip. Less than a year later, the track was sold for $4.5 million to Filmways Corp., a Los Angeles-based entertainment company.
The track had passed through various owners over by the time in 1989 when NASCAR brought its top series, then called Winston Cup, to the track owned by Skip Berg and called Sears Point Raceway.
Ricky Rudd, driving a car owned by drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein, won the first Cup race at Sears Point, so named for the original owner of the land on which the track was first built.
Improvements were made steadily over Sonoma Raceway’s history, but it wasn’t until after Bruton Smith and his Speedway Motorsports Inc. took over operating rights of the track in 1996 and, two years later, purchased 800 acres of land and the track’s facilities, that it moved into its truly modern era.
An 890-foot “chute” connecting Turn 4 to Turn 7 of the original road course shortened laps for NASCAR’s teams from 2.52 miles to 1.949 miles. The track has since been modified to bring it to its current configuration for stock cars, which features varying right- and left-hand turns and major changes in elevation during a trip around Sonoma Raceway.
In 2000, plans for a $60 million “modernization plan” were announced. The project included new hillside terrace seating areas, new garages, wider roads for traffic on the property and a large number of facilities upgrades for fans holding tickets to events at Sonoma Raceway.
The modernization also included permanent grandstands at the start-finish line, improvements to pit road to allow for 43 cars to make stops at the same time, major improvements to the drag strip and the opening of a three-quarter mile, 16-turn course as part of the track’s new center for go-karts.
In 2002, the track was renamed Sonoma Raceway.
Jeff Gordon, who was born not too far away from the track in Vallejo, Calif., is a four-time Cup Series race-winner at Sonoma Raceway. Rudd, Ernie Irvan, Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Geoffrey Bodine, Robby Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and the legendary Dale Earnhardt also have won NASCAR Cup events at Sonoma.