Days 2 and 3 – Indy Sonoma Grand Prix

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Dario Franchitti out of racing after a terrible accident but at the track signing autographs for kids and helping his team

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At the garage area pre-race

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Helio emerges from his trailer to meet his fans

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The Number 3 leaving the garage area for the track

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Helio ready for morning practice

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The boss…Roger Penske with his game face on

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Juan Pablo Montoya and son arrive at autograph session.

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Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Ray and others at autograph session

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Top Hitachi official checking out the Number 3 which Hitachi sponsors. Definitely getting the VIP treatment.

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Outside Helio’s trailers. What little girls do when Daddy goes racing.

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Firestone team getting the tires ready.

 

 

Day 1 – Practice Indy Sonoma Grand Prix

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In the garage pre-practice. Helio Castroneves’ Number 3 car. My favorite driver.

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Graham Rahal’s car headed to the inspection area.

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Tristan Vautier’s tribute to Justin Wilson who died in last week’s Indy race.

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The charity established in Justin’s memory

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A Firestone “tattoo” for my granddaughters. One on the other arm as well and the same brought home for them to put on tomorrow morning.

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View from the new terrace built atop Turn 2.

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The view to the Grandstand and paddock from the same terrace.

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Helio’s car in position number one on pit lane. I have a pit pass for tomorrow to get up close and personal.

Helio taking a short cut at Turn 9 and coming down by the grandstand.

Calling all Classic and Indy car racing fans

It’s that time of year again, and I’ll be moved and settled in just in time for my two favorite auto races. First, I’ll do one day, Saturday, August 15th, at Laguna Seca at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Second, I’ll do all three days, Friday, August 28 through Sunday, August 30, at the Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma, which will be the last and deciding race for this year’s Verizon INDYCAR series championship. GO, HELIO!

And here’s the exciting part for YOU! I would love to find a race car fan to go with me. Friends and relatives are eligible. Even new friends if you’re the companionable sort. A single ticket (pre-purchased) for Laguna Seca is $80 and you have to be a very early bird willing to drive down at the crack of dawn the morning of the race to get parking. I already have purchased two 3-day tickets for Sonoma and price depends on which day(s) you chose to attend and how close a friend you are (hint, hint!). Friday is practice, Saturday qualifying, and Sunday the race itself. Very exciting track–I’ve done three amazing and very scary charity laps on this track on two different occasions.

Here are some photos and videos from prior years to whet your appetite.

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Pit passes enable you to go on the track just before the start.

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My “date” last year!

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Not quite the real thing

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Explore the paddock at Laguna Seca

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Name this VERY famous driver!

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With my favorite driver. Go Helio!

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The vintage cars on the track.

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Helio’s pit at Sonoma

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Raffi Minasian…Industrial and automotive design genius

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I had the wonderful opportunity on November 15th to hear a lecture by Designer, Educator and Automotive Historian Raffi Minasian as he explored the fusion of transportation, mobile devices and nanotechnology in automobiles from the past and into the distant … Continue reading

Lyn St. James – race car driver extraordinaire!

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Visiting my “ride” before taking my laps.

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My tall handsome chariot driver!

I had been looking forward to Lyn St. James’ lecture at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, CA in November but then she had to postpone. But an opportunity arose to see her at Sonoma Raceway during the CSRG Charity Challenge. I hung around all morning looking for her and waiting for my 3-lap ride (read “10 minutes of absolutely delicious terror”) around the 12-turn 2.52 mile road track in a 1952 Jaguar XK 120 owned and driven by James Alder. I had been at the track a few weeks earlier watching Helio Castroneves and Will Power navigate their Indy cars around the same track. Hitting Turn 1 at full throttle is fear on steroids! At least for this 71 year old Granny!

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Lyn St. James’ record setting Thunderbird

I did get a gander at Lyn’s 1989 Ford Thunderbird in which she set a myriad of speed records in the track winner’s circle and read a sign about all of her feats, but no sight of its famous female driver.2014-10-04 12.13.22 I was about to give up and strolled over to the cafe for something to eat when I spied her sitting at a picnic table signing her book for a friend.

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Lyn and me at Sonoma raceway

Breathlessly, I introduced myself and ran off into the raceway store to purchase a copy for signing. The most interesting part is that I had read up on her personal history the night before and discovered that she grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, the same small town outside of Cleveland where my grandparents had lived their entire adult lives, where my mother had been born and raised, where many of my other relatives had been prominent citizens, and where I had been baptized, had visited many times, and had even attended second grade. My uncle, Robert Shankland, a famous physicist, had, along with his uncle, served as a trustee of the Andrews School for Girls (now the Andrews Osborne Academy), which Lyn had attended from 7th to 12th grade. My uncle’s father, Sherwood Shankland, had been the school’s first superintendent. Lyn shared about how this school, which was eons ahead of its time in empowering the lives of young women, influenced her character development and ambitions. And we had a lively discussion about her visit next spring to the Museum. I hope to become involved in the preparations for this event. Finally, a volunteer activity that truly captures my attention–a combo of two loves, the excitement of car racing and my passion about the place of women in the fabric of America.

The theme of Women’s History Month in 2015 is Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives. The warp and woof of Lyn’s story is woven with Nomex, a fire-retardant material that is used to make the suit, gloves, socks and shoes worn by race car drivers. But as her website says: “Lyn St. James’ story is not just about being a successful race car driver. It’s a story about goal setting, determination, passion and fully utilizing all her defeats and successes to break into a world no one could have imagined possible: auto racing.” The 2010 revised edition of her book Lyn St. James, An Incredible Journey, is still available. For any woman who was told as a child that she can’t be this or that because it’s a man’s prerogative, this book is a must!

Shake, rattle…and roar!

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This year’s Go-Pro Sonoma Indy drivers, staying in local Napa hotels, got quite the wake-up call on race day this past Sunday. At 3:20 a.m. they were jolted out of their beds by the 6.0 earthquake, some grabbing towels to … Continue reading

Who knows what genius lurks in the hearts of men?

2014-05-17 11.50.16The Shadow does! Only this is a tale of three men whose love for racing and inventive minds created a classic car…the Shadow. The three men, Don Nichols the company founder, George Follmer, the first driver, and Trevor Harris, the designer of the first two version shared their story at the Sonoma Historic Motorsport Festival today.

2014-05-17 11.49.42They told a fascinating story of persistence and inventiveness, of getting the extremely small tires made by Firestone, the cramped quarters for the driver, problems with cooling resolved in part by placing radiators on the rear wing, their race successes and failures, and various versions of how the car got its name. A shadow, of course, is only two dimensional and black. And this car had such a low profile that it was almost like a shadow. Two current owners, racing their models in the days classic races, were also present. A wonderful opportunity to hear the history of a unique car from the men who designed and drove it.

2014-05-17 12.06.14Hundreds of classic race cars take part in the event every year. I had great fun following this Morgan after I encountered it on the freeway on its way to the event. It took part in the Morgan Car Club parade run during the lunch hour. I had no doubt where he was headed.

 

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And, of course, I saw quite a few other favorites like this Alfa.

 

 

In contrast, the San Francisco McClaren dealership also had their latest model on display. I think I prefer the classic cars!