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Sonoma’s big Indy weekend

Posted on September 12, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun


A weekend of qualifying and challenge races culminates with the IndyCar Series finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma: 85 laps, 200 miles and 1,000 turns, all (in sleek, sexy style) while averaging 100+ miles per hour. Sunday, September 17. 800.870.7223.

Here’s some INDYCAR trivia for the road

  • The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma has featured eight different winners since the series’ first visit to Sonoma in 2005: Tony Kanaan, 2005; Marco Andretti, 2006; Helio Castroneves, 2008; Dario Franchitti, 2009; Ryan Briscoe, 2012; Will Power, 2010, 2011, 2013; Scott Dixon, 2007, 2014 and 2015 and Simon Pagenaud, 2016.
  • The championship title has been decided in the season-finale for 12 consecutive years.
  • Simon Pagenaud set the track qualifying record in 2016 with a fast lap of 1 minute, 16.2530 seconds at 112.599 mph.
  • Pagenaud set the track record for most laps led by a race winner in 2016 with 76 (of 85) and record for fastest race winner (101.181 mph).
  • The 2015 and 2014 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma events both featured 10 lead changes and 20 drivers finished on the lead lap.
  • Scott Dixon set the track record for worst starting position of a winner in 2015 (9th). He also set the track record for the largest margin of victory in an IndyCar Series event at 6.1115 seconds over Ryan Hunter-Reay also in 2015.
  • The raceway unveiled a modified track layout in 2012, with changes to Turns 7, 9 and 11 designed to enhance passing. With the modifications, the track length is 12 turns, 2.385 miles and race distance was increased from 75 to 85 laps.
  • Will Power became the first repeat INDYCAR winner in Sonoma after claiming back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011.  Dixon is the only other repeat Sonoma winner (2014, 2015).
  • Marco Andretti won his first-ever INDYCAR race at Sonoma Raceway in 2006.  At 19-years, 167 days, Andretti became the then-youngest driver in history to win a major open-wheel event.  Andretti also claimed victory in Sonoma in the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights event.
  • 2008 marked the first year that the unified INDYCAR and Champ Car World Series competed in the Sonoma Valley.
  • Will Power has led the most laps in IndyCar competition at Sonoma Raceway with 276.
  • The 2005 INDYCAR event in Sonoma marked the first major open-wheel event at the Sonoma facility in 35 years and the first permanent road-course event in the 11-year history of INDYCAR.
  • Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are the only drivers who have competed in all 12 INDYCAR events in Sonoma.
  • Five of the 12 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma winners have started from the pole (Castroneves, Franchitti, Pagenaud, Power – twice).

Track Facts

  • The raceway has installed nearly 200 feet of Humboldt Redwood stand-up bars under the main grandstand and at the raceway’s newest fan entertainment area, The RevZone at Turn 7. These stand-up bars offer a shaded location under the grandstand or a picturesque view above Turn 7 to enjoy the variety of food options and beverages at the raceway. Fans will also be able to sit at one of 14 new redwood picnic tables under the main grandstand.
  • In 2016, Sonoma Raceway installed more than 5,000 square feet of high-resolution, full LED Panasonic screens. An 85-foot tall, four-sided LED scoring tower has replaced the outdated lap/leader board above Turn 1 of the road course, and an 84- x 12-foot Panasonic LED screen has been added to the front of the three-story Drag Tower building.
  • The Sonoma Raceway road course features more than 160 feet of elevation change from its highest point (Turn 3a, 174 feet) to its lowest point (Turn 10, 14 feet).
  • The property on which the raceway was built was a working farm called Sears Point Farm in the early 1900s.
  • In 2011, in a partnership with Panasonic Corporation of North America, the raceway completed a solar installation of nearly 1,700 solar panels, which offsets approximately 41% of the raceway’s energy usage.
  • Nearly 3,000 sheep, housed at the raceway and provided by Rocky Mountain Wooly Weeders, provide natural land care, helping to maintain the facility’s grasses and fire lanes.
  • Winners in Sonoma celebrate with a sip from the Champion’s Goblet in Sunoco Victory Lane.  The goblet, which is handcrafted by a local glass blower from Oakland, was introduced in 2006 and incorporates the raceway’s rich wine country heritage.



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