Round 16: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Sonoma, CA. 16 - 18 September, 2016.
So here we are again and as the late James Hunt was fond of saying, "It's all over bar the shouting.", well almost, as we go into the final round of the 2016 season, which has produced some excellent racing and a good season overall.
Originally known as Sears Point Raceway, the track was built in 1968 by attorney Robert Marshall Jr. and land developer Jim Coleman. The first official race, an SCCA event, was held on Dec. 1, that year. It was sold in 1969 to Filmways Corp., a Los Angeles based entertainment company. In April 1970, Sears Point hosted the 2nd round of the USAC Championship Car season, the Golden Gate 150, which was won by Dan Gurney in his AAR Eagle-Ford. This would be the first and last AOWR/IndyCar race for 35 years.
With losses of $300,000 the venue closed in May 1970 and Filmways Corp., used it as a tax shelter. The track re-opened in 1973 and in 1974, it was leased to Bob Bondurant, owner of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and eventually bought by Black Mountain Inc., which included Bondurant.
In 1981, When Black Mountain Inc., defaulted on payments, the track was bought back by Filmways Corp., and then subsequently sold at auction to a business group that included the 1964 NHRA top-fuel drag racing champion, Jack Williams. The track came under the control of Brenda Raceway Corp., when business partners Dr. Frank N. Scott Jr. and Harvey "Skip" Berg came on board. It was sold in 1996 to current owners Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
In 2002, Infineon bought the naming rights in a 10 year deal, renaming the track Infineon Raceway. When the deal expired, the new name of Sonoma Raceway was chosen, rather than reverting to its former name Sears Point.
AOWR/IndyCar returned on August 28, 2005, after a 35 year absence, with Tony Kanaan wining the IRL's inaugural race at the venue, the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix, for Andretti Green Racing in a Dallara IR05-Honda HI5R. Since then the race has been an IndyCar perennial and last year hosted the series finale for the first time.
The driver with the most wins: 3, Scott Dixon, 2007, 2014, 2015. 3, Will Power: 2010, 2011, 2013.
The team with most wins: 5 Team Penske: 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.
The full length road course, is 2.523 miles (4.060 km), with 12-turns and 160 foot change in elevation. It also has a quarter mile (402 m) dragstrip. which was originally part of the start/finish line straight. In 2001, the race track was separated from the drag strip. The venue also hosts rounds for other series, including AMA Superbikes, NASCAR Sprint Cup, NHRA Championship Drag Racing, SCCA and WTCC, as well as IndyCar and can accomodate different layouts for each series.
Since 2005, the IndyCar track layout has changed. From 2005 to 2007, IndyCar raced on a modified version of the 2.320 miles (3.733 km) layout used by the AMA. This layout was further revised, with the approach to Turn 7 straightened and was used from 2008 to 2011.
The most notable change though, was in 2012. The section from Turn 10 to Turn 11 was extended by 200 feet, with the hairpin now at Turn 11B, increasing the track length to 2.385 miles (3.838 km) and giving drivers more space to out-brake each other and set up a passing opportunity, before going into Turn 12. The exit off Turn 9, the Bus Stop, was widened by 10 feet on the driver’s left, giving additional width to what was already a passing zone and Turn 7 became a u-turn similar to Turn 11B.
Original full circuit
2005 - 2007 IndyCar circuit
2008 - 2011 IndyCar circuit
Current IndyCar circuit
2.385 Miles (3.838 km)
August 29, 2015. Will Power, 01:16.2597, 112.589 mph (181.194 kmh). Team Penske, Dallara DW12-Chevrolet Indy V6, Verizon IndyCar Series
Last year's winner:
Chip Ganassi Racing
Dallara DW12-Chevrolet Indy V6
Distance: 195.755 Miles (315.010 km)
Race Time: 2:09:14
Average Speed: 94.117 mph (1151.46 kmh)
NBCSN, 6:30pm EST.