Sonoma Speed Festival 2019: Poke Around the Paddock

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Not exactly a new event, more like a rebrand: that was the story heading into the Sonoma Speed Festival, which is now “the” historic event of the year at Sonoma Raceway now that SVRA isn’t hosting their vintage racing event there.

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In the past, historic racing at Sears Point was pretty much just a track day for old race cars, and spectators could show up if they wanted to. I think that’s all most people expected anyway, but with Monterey Historics getting more epic as the years go by there was surely some pressure to raise the level at Sonoma.

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But me? I just like walking around and seeing race cars.

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So that’s what this post is going to be about: none of the fancy stuff, just a good ol’ fashioned walk around the pits and paddock.

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Can you imagine driving that thing with your legs straddling the unshielded rear differential? Sheesh.

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Of course, I can’t help but seek out the Porsches, even the ones that I’ve seen a million times.

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Wow, sugar scoop headlights on a race car.

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I definitely prefer a suite of S.E.V. Marchals!

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No matter how many times I see a 917, I’m always intrigued. Especially this particular car with its lovely patina.

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But here’s something I never, ever see…a Ferrari F40 LM!

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I was super intrigued by this car, walking around and taking in the details.

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There was some other surprisingly new machinery parked nearby.

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They aren’t exactly “vintage” but they’re a bit too slow to compete with modern stuff. These cars just need some time.

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Which classic would you take on the Coastal Range Rally?

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I stumbled on the warmup session for the Trans Am group, and it was glorious.

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I wandered around, mesmerized by the thunderous symphony of a dozen or so straight-piped V8’s at fast idle.

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Most people use pit bikes if they need motorized paddock transport, but I saw this guy rolling around in this neat little lawnmower powered “hot rod”.

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This well-used Gullwing was a late arrival to the Bring a Trailer parking lot.

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Rad plate!

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This is my friend’s V8 Vantage, which was originally silver but is now rocking this stunning yellow wrap.

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Only one button on the steering wheel. Those were the days.

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They had the historic drag cars pulled out because they were actually going to run them on the strip after the road course sessions were over. Unfortunately, I forgot my ear plugs and they are INSANELY LOUD, so I passed on that.

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Dish!

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After spending the whole day walking past the McLaren F1 GTR and seeing throngs of people around it, I finally spotted my chance. The corral was empty! But as soon as I got into position, no fewer than three camera-wielding McLaren fans descended. Wow.

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So I took a couple pics of the Lancia, and waited. I was able to get a bunch of snaps of the McLaren, and I’ll document that car in its own post.

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The modern cars were rolling back in–sadly I didn’t get to see them run at all. This was definitely an event I would like to attend on two separate days; I feel like I saw everything I wanted to see in the paddock, but on the other hand I didn’t get to see much track action.

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Just one more F40 LM pic.

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We caught one more session from the grandstand, and then headed out. There’s always one last car to notice for the first time, which was the case for this pretty snazzy Hudson Commodore convertible spotted in the parking lot.

Next up: action shots!

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