By David Santiago
The inaugural Sonoma Speed Festival provided a perfect visual representation of a natural desire to achieve, go faster, and to push the boundaries of technology. The Festival, held in the heart of California’s wine country at Sonoma Raceway, now celebrating their 50th anniversary, hosted over 200 cars for historic display and track action. As the name implies, Sonoma Speed Festival celebrates the world of Motorsports. A diverse entry list of cars spanning over 100 years were on show from the most memorable eras of racing, including iconic and rarely seen historic racing cars.
Whether for demonstration, display, or racing, one could find a broad range of automotive activity at the Festival. A sampling of the breadth and depth of the cars included pre and post war Grand Prix cars, flip-top funny cars, Trans-Am racers, modern era prototypes, historic production, and GT cars. The Festival also highlighted one of Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning Mercedes-AMG F1 cars.
The main attraction, of course, was the racing action. The run groups were carefully curated to showcase some of the “golden days” of racing and give fans an opportunity to witness rare cars in action. Revs brought out the 1966 Ford GT40 MKI and 1964 Alfa Romeo GTZ from the Miles Collier Collections for the event. Both cars and Revs’ driver Gunnar Jeanette performed very well, with the GT40 picking up a best finish of third place and the Alfa a fourth place over the course of the weekend’s races, which offered plentiful track time.
The Speed Festival included more than just racing though. There were also plenty of activities throughout the weekend. Within the paddock area, spectators could find practically everything – including virtual reality demos, auto racing simulators, auto museum and exotic car displays. A food park of local favorites, wine tasting, a car drawing competition, and automotive design discussions completed the festival experience. A highlight of the event included an Evolution of Speed exhibit featuring 20 cars in a timeline of racing car development.
Revs would like to thank Jeff O’Neil and the entire Speed Festival team, for putting together such a great event and inviting us to share in the history, sights, and sounds of some truly exceptional automobiles and people.
We are already looking forward to the next Sonoma Speed Festival!
The green flag flies for Group 7 (under 2.5 liter productions car). Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
Group 5 was comprised of 1964-1973 FIA Manufacturers Championship cars like this very quick 1971 Ferrari 312 PB with Johannes van Overbeek at the wheel. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
The Masters Historic F1 3.0 liter group was also well represented and put on a great show. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
Revs’ 1964 Alfa Romeo GTZ ran well over the weekend and picked up seventh and fourth place finishes with Gunnar Jeannette at the wheel. Photo: Dennis Grey
It’s always great to see pre-war racers like this Alfa Romeo P3 being driven as they were originally intended to be. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
Not something you see every day, a Bugatti Type 37A and a Railton LST side by side through the downhill sweeper. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
Revs’ 1966 Ford GT40 on the pre-grid alongside some serious machinery in the form of a Bizzarini GT, a Porsche 910, a Chevron B8, and another GT40. Photo: Mike Ellis
It’s not just about classics, although its been nearly 15 years since the effectively all-conquering Audi R8 LMP was racing. Photo: Dennis Grey
A car that needs no introduction, the Ferrari 250 GTO. This car was one of two GTOs that raced over the weekend. Photo: Dennis Grey
Mercedes-AMG Petronas put on a special show for spectators with some demonstration laps of Lewis Hamilton’s 2016 ten-time Grand Prix winning W107/04, and a 1939 W154 from a renowned private collection that was demonstrated by Ivan Zaremba and the Phil Reilly shop. Photo: Allan Rosenberg
Esteban Gutierrez putting in some hot laps to show what a modern era championship-winning F1 car is capable of. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
The mighty “Silver Arrow” Mercedes-Benz W-154, a stark contrast to the modern F1 car, but the peak of technological innovation in 1939. Photo: Kurt Borden
Perhaps the most Iconic race car and paint scheme in motorsport, a Gulf-liveried Porsche 917K. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
This 917 was driven by Pedro Rodriguez, Leo Kinnunen and Brian Redman, to an overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1970. It’s now part of the Canepa Museum in California. Photo: Bill Wagenblatt
A 1912 Packard Model 30 complete with a brave riding mechanic. Photo: Kurt Borden
Sonoma raceway features a drag strip located adjacent to the road course, which allowed for some demonstration passes of nitro-burning funny cars and dragsters. Photo: Kurt Borden
The Historic Trans-Am group always puts on a great show and it was no different at Sonoma this year as they went three-wide into braking zones and wrestled their V8 muscle cars through the corners. Photo: Kurt Borden
A 1974 Lotus 76 navigating through the paddock. Photo: Kurt Borden
The atmosphere of the weekend was friendly and more upscale than your typical track event without being too over the top. Photo: Kurt Borden
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