Sonoma Raceway Entrance

It’s Race Day at Sonoma Raceway for a full slate of professional motorsports races. The gentle North to South breeze has chased away the clouds and the temperature is already low sixties.

The feature race, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma for the IZOD IndyCar Series, is scheduled to start 1:40 pm PT/4:30pm ET, after pre-race ceremonies. The Grand Marshal is GoPro Founder and CEO, NIC WOODMAN, who is also racing the Formula Challenge Race Sunday afternoon.

Other on-track activities include a half-hour IndyCar Warm-Up at 10:05 am PT, a sixty-minute Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTS race, and the third race for the Trofeo Maserati World Series.

Not that you’ll ever see, thanks to the ever-protective IndyCar teams keeping their engines covered from prying eyes, but the Andretti Autosport drivers have color-coded inlets. I’ve seen the familiar in-your-face green on the inlets of JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.25 Chevrolet. The other three drivers have their inlets corresponding to their car color, and I’ve been told that it’s yellow/gold for RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.1 Chevrolet. I couldn’t say or learn the colors of E.J. VISO/No.5 Chevrolet or MARCO ANDRETTI/No.25 Chevrolet.

Sebastian Saavedra
Sebastian Saavedra

Thursday was a day off for the IndyCar drivers, and a variety of activities were lined up for them. Six went to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco and got to see up close and personal just how the popular pastime works. They also got to observe and learn about ‘Best Practices’ – how other star athletes maximize social media. They put some of that knowledge to use with SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Honda making a Vine video, “How Many Drivers Fit in an Elevator?” It can be seen on the Vine website, a company owned by Twitter. The other cut-ups were HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, TONY KANAAN/No.11 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, and TRISTAN VAUTIER/No.55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Their partner-in-crime was AMY KONRATH, IndyCar vice president of public relations/communications.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver, SCOTT DIXON of New Zealand, spent Thursday in San Francisco with the New Zealand America’s Cup team. While he didn’t get to go out in the boat – which is racing this week in the Louis Vuitton Cup, he did enjoy the “little village of New Zealanders.” The New Zealand sailors won their round this week. Afterwards, Dixon went to the San Francisco Target store – his sponsor, and “had a ball handing out $700 gift cards to school children.”

LUCAS LUHR/No.97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda said he “did nothing, just hung out at the track and had a blast.”

Ryan Winchester
Ryan Winchester. Photo by Mark Weber
Ernie Francis
Ernie Francis. Photo by Mark Weber

Round 12 for the World Challenge Classes TC/TCB, RYAN WINCHESTER/No.72 HPD Honda Civic Si won overall and in the TC Class. ERNIE FRANCIS Jr/No.98 Mazda2 won the TCB Class, finishing twelfth. He also turned the fastest TCB lap of 2:04.7373/68.813 mph. The fastest TC lap belonged to race runner-up, BRETT SANDBERG/No.70HPD Honda Civic Si, at 1:50.481/77.714 mph.

Johnny O'Connell
Johnny O’Connell. Photo by Mark Weber
Jack Baldwin
Jack Baldwin. Photo by Mark Weber

JOHNNY O’CONNELL has the pole position for the Sunday World Challenge GT/GTS round, in the factory Cadillac CTS-V.R, turning a 1:35.400/90.000 mph- fastest overall and in the GT Class. His teammate, ANDY PILGRIM, will start beside him on the front row. The GTS pole position was earned by long-time racer, JACK BALDWIN/No.73 Porsche Cayman S. Since un-retiring, Baldwin has come back with a vengeance. His lap was 1:42.863/83.370 mph.

RENAUD KUPPENS from Belgium won both Maserati races Saturday, driving No.1. Kuppens’ MOV in the first race was 4.724, ahead of CEDRIC SBIRRAZZUOLI. Kuppens turned the fastest race lap of 1:40.370/85.543. In the second race, Kuppens had to work harder to beat ANGE BARDE/No.32 by 0.477, and again turned the fastest race lap of 1:41.505/84.587 mph. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

The GoPro car Maserati driven by American Extreme athlete, TYLER McQUARIE, finished fourteenth in Race 1 and fourth in Race 2.

Race Engineer