Why I Love NASCAR: Sonoma Raceway by Chief 187™

Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
Before I could claim to be a fan of NASCAR I was a fan of road racing.

My father, a long-standing member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America, would pack up his vintage sports car – an Allard, a Crosley, a Saab, etc. – on an open trailer, tow to an event, and, at the end of a weekend of racing declared he had won because he and the car came home safely.

In the VSCCA there are no trophies, purses, or points awarded so the question I would ask, “Did you win the race, Daddy?” was always met with that same optimistic and positive answer.

The road courses my father raced were Lime Rock Park, Philadelphia Grand Prix, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, and Watkins Glen International among other locations.

So, when NASCAR entered my life I was not used to oval race tracks at all. Finally, watching my first full Cup series, when the drivers went out west to race Sears Point, I was dazzled.

The “Roundy Round Sunshine Boys” were turning left and right! Drivers who were dominant on ovals would struggle on the road course giving other drivers with experience on these tracks the upper hand. I was even amazed that there were “road course ringers” who entered the two venues on the NASCAR (Winston) Cup schedule.

Sonoma, the first of the two road courses on NASCAR’s circuit, is located in the beautiful and picturesque Sonoma County in California. Sonoma is widely known as the birthplace of wine-making in California.

On a hunting trip two men with means and power of execution devised the plan to build a road course. Ground was broken in August of 1968 and by November the surface was completed. On December 1, 1968 the first event was held at Sonoma, a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Enduro.

The full length road course is 2.52 miles long and consists of 12 turns. In 1998 a Chute was added to the configuration for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The Chute bypasses turns five and six, the Carousel, which shortens the course to 1.95 miles. Many drivers were critical of the change but Sonoma stated the change was enacted “to increase speeds and improve competition for the stock cars.”

In 2001 the Chute was replaced with the 70 degree turn, 4A which brought the track to its current dimensions of 1.99 miles.

Kurt Busch had crew chief Steve Addington on top of the box last year and won this race. Kyle Busch with Addington on the box in 2008 did the same thing. In 2001 and 2005 Tony Stewart was able to find Victory Lane and now has Addington as his crew chief.

This could possibly be the deepest field of competition at this track with the Busch brothers, Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Juan Pablo Montoya, all past winners, on the grid this year.

I’m so looking forward to Sunday’s race as road courses are a part of my history. Having Sonoma Raceway on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.

Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.

Why I Love NASCAR: Sonoma Raceway by Chief 187™ Why I Love NASCAR: Sonoma Raceway by Chief 187™ Reviewed by Chief 187 on Monday, June 18, 2012 Rating: 5