- Chris Green
Sonoma Raceway - SRO World Challenge
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Sonoma Raceway 29355 Arnold Dr Sonoma, CA 95476
Year Opened: 1968
Supercars in Sonoma
Sonoma Raceway has a long and storied history in motorsports. Hosting the likes of NASCAR, NHRA, and IndyCar over the years, it is now home to one of the early rounds of the SRO America schedule. Being held in March/April annually, this event has slowly grown itself to a solid audience of fans, with tons of on-track action all day throughout the weekend. Fan-friendly and budget-friendly, this weekend is likely to soar to the top of the California race fan’s list of events to attend every year.
Food & Beverage 3
The track has various concession stands and food trucks during the weekend, complete with the likes of burgers, waffle sandwiches, carne asada fries, and fresh grilled BBQ. The paddock cafe is also open on race weekends, giving everyone another option for food and beverages, with both inside and outside seating options.
The action on the track is top-notch as SRO World Challenge hosts no less than 10 races during the weekend across 5 different race groups. Fans can catch everything from the top-level GT3 race teams to the Touring Car and Toyota GR Cup machines of the up-and-coming racers. Four days of practice, qualifying, and racing make this one of the most jam-packed events of the year for the track and the fans, which means you won’t go long without seeing some great race action.
Being a NASCAR and NHRA facility also means that seating is plentiful all around the track. RV parking spots with track views can also be purchased by fans, and the suites offer stellar views, including the new Turn 11 complex with its outdoor patio seating. One of the best viewing spots has got to be the Turn 2 terrace with seating under arbors and shade trees.
There is practically nothing immediately around Sonoma Raceway, but that makes for quite a nice location for a track. Sonoma is close enough to San Francisco and the Bay Area to make visiting one of the country’s most beautiful cities, with plenty to see and do, an easy task. However, it is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city and nestled away in the beautiful hills of California wine country, to give you the country feel you want when relaxing.
To the west is Novato, and to the east is Vallejo – food options include In-N-Out Burger, a California fixture, and many more. Hotels are also plentiful in both areas, and attractions range from the Golden Gate Bridge and area National Parks to the south, to wine country to the north.
Where once sat empty seats during SRO weekends at Sonoma, now you see large groups of fans watching the action. Being a large track means even solid crowds can look spread out, but the paddock and fan zone show that fans are still showing up in large numbers as of late. Many race fans in Sonoma who want to watch pro racing without the NASCAR prices turn to this event as a great option, especially given the incredible access afforded during sportscar races.
Easily the only downside to Sonoma Raceway is the location of the track in proximity to the highway. From San Francisco, you need to take the 101, and from Oakland/Sacramento/Vallejo you have to take I-80. Both highways will take you to the 37, which is the main highway to the track. The problem? Near the track it becomes a one-lane road that widens to two lanes at times, but no wider. Thankfully when you arrive, parking is beyond plentiful around the facility, with many grandstands offering close parking spaces for those willing to drive around.
Return on Investment 5
Going to the track is worth the trip for SRO at Sonoma. The facility is a must-see on any race fan’s list, making it worth the venture into Northern California. Tickets to SRO weekends are incredibly affordable, with weekend passes coming in under $100, and with the high number of on-track sessions and 10 races on the schedule, you get great value for your buck.
Drivers host several autograph sessions on Saturday and Sunday that are open to all fans. In addition, the victory lane is right there next to the main grandstands, which means fans can celebrate with their favorite drivers and teams after each race. Finally, the paddock and garages are all open to fans, which means you can get up close to the teams and cars while they work on race setups, and you can talk to the crews during the weekend.
If you are looking for a racetrack in a beautiful location in one of the most picturesque areas of the country, look no further than Sonoma Raceway. The track features some quality race action for fans to see, and most of the track is visible from the same spot, a rarity in road-course racing. With affordable prices, a growing fan base, and great food options, you have plenty to look forward to as a fan when you arrive at Sonoma.