The Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival returns to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, May 17-18, with 350 vintage and historic racecars competing in 14 race groups. The 28th annual event celebrates the early years of the iconic SCCA Can-Am Series, which ran from 1966 to 1974, with a focus on the unique Shadow racecar that competed in the series from 1970-1974.
Governed by FIA rules, the Series was open to sports cars with unlimited engine capacity, virtually unrestricted aerodynamics and few other technical restrictions. The spectacular two-seater, closed-wheel cars were designed more for short-distance sprints than for endurance racing, and included marques such as Lola, McLaren, Porsche, Chaparral and Shadow.
It was the birthplace and proving ground for outrageous technology. The cars were among the first to sport wings, effective turbocharging, ground-effect aerodynamics and aerospace materials like titanium. Such was the level of experimentation that the high cost of the technology eventually led to the series’ downfall.
Drivers included now-familiar names such as Mark Donohue, George Follmer, Jim Hall, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Oliver, Peter Revson and George Follmer.
“The early days of the Can-Am Series was an exciting time in North American motorsports,” said Steve Earle, president of General Racing, Ltd., who has organized premier historic car events for four decades. “It was a dynamic era when designers and engineers were given a free hand, a clean sheet of paper, to create the fastest sports racing cars they could imagine: the unlimited racing car.”
“They could create whatever they thought would get their driver around a track the fastest – period,” Earle said. The first Shadow was certainly one of those cars.”
The 350 vintage and historic race cars in 14 race groups scheduled to take to the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course range from a 1911 National 40 and a 1917 Chevrolet 490 Speedster to more contemporary racers, such as a 1964 Bobsy-Porsche SR-3, a 1965 Cobra and Corvette, a 1970 Porsche 917 and 908, a 1988 Protofab Corvette, and a 1991 Roush Mustang.
Tickets for the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival are $30 each day (Saturday and Sunday). Children 12-and-under free, and students ages 13-20 are $10 each day. Racesonoma.com.
Vintage cars around, on Plaza
The celebration of fine cars at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival continues into the evening on Saturday, May 17, at the Sonoma Plaza and the 22nd annual Historic Race Car Festival. A group of 30 select racecars parade to the Plaza and be placed on display for the event, which features tastings from several local restaurants and wineries. All proceeds from the charity event will benefit the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau and Speedway Children’s Charities, the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway. 5:30 to 8 p.m. $30 advance, $35 at door. Racesonoma.com.