Nestled in the Sonoma Mountains near a geographic formation known as Sears Point, Sonoma Raceway ranks among the most scenic and challenging permanent road courses in North America. The track’s numerous configurations (which utilize portions of the facility’s drag NHRA-sanctioned drag strip) all include dramatic elevation changes and a variety of fast, slow and medium speed corners, many of which feature blind entries and/or exits.
Opened in 1968 as Sears Point International Raceway, the track hosted a wide variety of top flight professional events sanctioned by IMSA, SCCA, AMA, NASCAR West, USAC (for IndyCars) and the NHRA. However, the facility suffered from chronic financial problems until it was purchased by Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 1996. Under SMI management, the facility (renamed Infineon Raceway and, more recently Sonoma Raceway) benefited from a massive upgrade that added, among other things, VIP suites and a permanent grandstand overlooking the pit area.
Although Sonoma Raceway continues to host professional and amateur sports car racing, along with an NHRA National event, the track’s calendar is highlighted by NASCAR, IndyCar and AMA weekends. The stock cars utilize a 1.99 mile, 10 turn configuration that by-passes the testing Carousel turn while the IndyCars and motorcycles run on a 12 turn, 2.22 mile course that skips much of the Esses and features a shortened back straightaway in order to provide sufficient run-off room at the Turn 11 hairpin.