This year marks the first time that the SCCA National Championship Runoffs have been held at Sonoma Raceway. Coinciding with the track’s 50th anniversary, the 55th Runoffs, which starts today and runs through Sunday, are returning to the West Coast for the first time since the 2014 championship races at what is now WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Sonoma Raceway was formerly known as Infineon Raceway, but longtime road racing enthusiasts are most likely to remember the track as Sears Point International Raceway, as it was known from its founding in 1968 through 2002. Over time, the track has added various optional course elements, including the “Chute” designed to eliminate certain turns that are difficult for some series to manage. The Runoffs are using the “traditional” Sonoma track with 12 turns, familiar to generations of SCCA racers.
“SCCA has a rich history at Sonoma Raceway, and so it makes sense to use the course that has made it a destination for decades,” SCCA Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Eric Prill said.
Runoffs entries light heading into qualifying
As competitors began arriving at Sonoma, the total number of entries in the 55th SCCA National Championship Runoffs stood at 490. Some drivers may yet turn up and enter at the last minute, and some no-shows will subtract from the total, so final numbers will not be known until qualifying is complete.
Reduced turnout was widely expected, both because the long-distance tow to California is daunting to some East Coast competitors and because of the record turnout at last year’s event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where more than 1,000 cars competed.
Top-drawing classes this year include Spec Miata at 48 entries, SRF3 at 37 entries, along with Touring 2 and Formula Vee at 30 entries each. The lightest classes include Formula 500 with 5 entries, Formula 1000 with 7 entries, and both Formula Atlantic and GT-1 with 8 entries each.
Track Facts: Sonoma Raceway
• There are 12 official turns in the traditional full road course
• Turns 3 and 8 are paired with Turns 3a and 8a, raising the actual number of corners to 14
• The traditional “full” road course covers 2.52 miles (4.06 km) of track
• There are 720 acres of land inside the facility
• The full course includes 160 feet (49 meters) of total elevation change. The track climbs from Turn 1 to Turn 3A, and then drops back down by the exit of Turn 6 (the Carousel)
• At any given time, Sonoma has about 75 tenants in its on-site motorsports industrial park
• Allan McNish holds the outright lap record on the traditional course at 1m20.683s, while qualifying an Audi R8 for the American Le Mans Series race on July 23, 2000