2015 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival
What, "some" may ask, is so interesting about auto racing? It's just a bunch of cars going round and round, "they" say. Well, frankly, "they" and "some" are just plain wrong...and the 2015 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival is proof. This event was a feast for all of the senses and a friendly and open event with a little something for everyone.
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) www.svra.com put the event on, and used it as an occasion to launch its Gold Medallion Program which salutes and rewards cars that are prepared as they were raced in their original era. On a related note, the SVRA's motto is "Some People Collect Art...We Race It." Fortunately, that's exactly what happened this past Sunday when I traveled to Sonoma Raceway with TLP photographic contributor and personal security expert, Kelly Lane. (Special TLP shout out to Chris Wood for the use of his beautiful Maserati Quattroporte GTS for the day!) This was NOT an event for trailer queens or museum dwellers (though any number of the participating cars would be welcome additions to any sedentary collection). Events like this reaffirm our love for motorsport and allow lifelong gearheads and newcomers to racing to get up close and very personal with the machines and history that make it the spectacle it is.
Those who know a little about the wheeled-arts may have heard about some of the machines at the Festival...they were all there, and in good number. Shebly Cobras (yeah, real ones)...there were several. Pre-war grand prix racers...yep, had those...no problem. Can-Am, yes ma'am! A 1958 V.A.Y. Special (wait, WHAT?)...yessir, there was one of them too, and a whole lot more. And you get to walk right up to all of them and talk to the owners and mechanics and other associated hangers-on and even family members. If you have an obscure question about an even more obscure mid 50s race car, this is the gathering place for those with the answers. I was never told that I was too close to a car and I never got the sensation that I was asking a "stupid question." The participants in this event, and events like it, are all passionate and totally geeked out about their cars, and are always ready with information or an anecdote about their car or maybe about a driver who made it famous. Heck, if you look pitiful enough, you (or more likely your kid or grandkid) might get the chance to sit in one and have their picture taken!
And this can happen to you....
Just you are chatting up the mechanic who's working on a 1939 Alfa 6C 2500 SS, the most amazing thing happens...something you've never heard in a museum, the sound (and earthshaking rumble) of a "Group 10." A Group 10 you ask...what's a group 10? Well, Group 10 is one of the 13 groupings of cars that race throughout the weekend. Specifically, Group 10 cars as 1966-1972 Trans-Am cars. Lots of cubic inches and lots of big open exhausts. Camaro, Mustang, Challenger, Falcon and even Javelin. The pulsing bass of them at uneven idle hits you in the chest, the roar of the revvs makes your brain itch in your skull, and the smell of race gas is a smell that never seems to get old. It's hard to miss the sensations from a distance and its magical if you absorb them up close. The Trans-Am cars are always the best at these events. What's not to love?
As if this wasn't enough, all of these cars go out numerous times throughout the weekend to practice and race on the beautiful 2.52 mile, 12 turn Sonoma Raceway. Take that garage queens!
So, to condense this event down to it's most basic parts, it was equal parts AMAZING CARS, friendly people all around, sights, sounds, smells, history, beautiful wine country weather and um...I forgot...FREE JAGUAR TEST DRIVES on an autocross circuit! If you regularly read this fine blog, it's right up your alley. (Even if you're only into new and exotic cars, you can come to an event like this and broaden your automotive horizons. You can learn the lineage of sports and racing cars and maybe even have your mind blown when you realize that some modern cars are using technology and materials that were developed in the 30s!)
Vintage racing is good for you. The SVRA 2015 Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival was definitely good for us!
As with all of our event coverage, we have included a gallery of images that we think captures the heart and soul of the event. To make up for the inadequacy of my prose, please take a look at these images from the event and, by all means, put this event on your calendar for next year.