Claiming to be “the first ‘Goodwood’ style event to be held on US soil,” the inaugural Sonoma Speed Festival scheduled for May 31-June 2 says it will offer historic Ferrari 250 GTOs and a recent Mercedes F1 car as well as “fine dining.”
“While America has its fair share of vintage motorsports events, these races traditionally have lacked some of the luxurious comfort and true wheel-to-wheel aggression seen in European counterparts like the Optic 2000 or Britain’s famous Goodwood Festival of Speed,” according to the Sonoma news release.
However, “Deep in the hills of California wine country, a team of experts led by O’Neill Wines CEO Jeff O’Neill looks to change the face of American vintage racing and offer a truly world-class spectacle. This new event, the Sonoma Speed Festival, looks to be coming to the technical corners of Sonoma Raceway loaded for bear.
“Already the event has a field of 210 incredible cars lined up in 10 ‘Race Groups’ ranging from Brass Era Grand Prix machines to bellowing Trans Am muscle cars, classic Formula 1 and endurance cars, and much more with strict rules for period-correctness and accuracy.
“Beyond the action on track, the Sonoma Speed Festival will offer incredible displays, gourmet food and wine pairings and some truly exciting special events for its inaugural weekend May 31st – June 2nd.”
The entry list includes two John Wyer Gulf-liveried Porsche 917Ks , tewo Ferrari 250 GTOs, two D-type Jaguars in Ecurie Ecosse colors, three Birdcage Maseratis, an ex-Tom Kristensen Audi R8 LMP and “all manner of Shelbys including Cobras, Daytonas and GT40s.
Featured race group will be “Historic Trans-Am” with the top-three finishers from Sonoma Raceway’s first (and only) Trans-Am race 50 years ago.
Also featured will be an appearance by the 2016 Mercedes-AMG Petronas W07/04 that Lewis Hamilton drove to 9 poles, 14 podium finishes and 10 victories.
Sonoma Speed Festival General Manager Ryan R. Turri is confident in the new event, adding:
“The team organizing this event have attended the best motoring events in the world and want to bring that world-class level of execution and experience to one of the best race tracks in North America,” festival general manager Ryan Turri is quoted in the news release.
“We’ve brought in teams that have worked on the most highly regarded automotive events and museums across the globe. This is an opportunity to see the most significant motorsports icons in action while enjoying the luxuries and comfort of a European style motoring event.”
Bennett takes HMSA race at Long Beach
Craig Bennett of Milford, Michigan, won the Historic Motor Sports Association Historic IMSA GTO Challenge race during the recent Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in his 1990 Nissan 300ZX. It was Bennett’s second victory in the event.
“It seems like every time Craig Bennett shows up for this race, he wins,” said HMSA president Cris Vandagriff, “but the other racers made him work for it.”
Joel Miller of Irvine, California, finished second in a 1991 Mazda RX-7.
“The fun part about what I get to do is drive with Joel and the rest of these great drivers,” Bennett said.
9th Donington Historic Festival set for May 3-5
The ninth Donington Historic Festival runs May 3-5 in England’s East Midlands and will feature vintage racing cars from the 1920s into the 1990s. But all of the action won’t be on the historic racing track.
Also included as part of the weekend activities are car-club showcases, Royal Air Force Battle of Britain memorial flybys, rides in classic and supercars for charity, and a variety of vender sales booths.
On the track classes include the “Mad Jack” class for pre-war sports cars, Nuvolari and Ascari Trophy races for pre-1961 Grand Prix cars, classic touring car events and various sports and prototype categories.