Sonoma: Weekend thoughts

IndyCar commentary — By on August 25, 2009 11:49 pm
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(Originally posted by Bash to Planet-IRL.com.)

Not a recap: Since we all know how the race unfolded by now, I’ll share a few thoughts and experiences about the weekend. For all the jokes about Snorenoma and Infini-yawn, I recommend attending the event if you get the chance. The area is striking, the facilities and staff are very nice, and the racing isn’t always a bore.

Unsettling: It seemed I had no more got my photo flag, got set up in the media center, and taken a deep breath before the horrific accident took place that injured both Nelson Philippe and Will Power. The accident put a bit of a damper on the weekend — it’s not easy to be so graphically reminded how dangerous this sport really is.

Celebrity parade: <name drop>Ronnie Lott was here. So was Kristi Yamaguchi and her hockey player husband, Brett Hedican. We also saw: the “Booth-Bs” (Beekhuis, Buhl and Bob), LindyCar, the versatile and talented Kevin Lee, Jack “Agent Orange” Arute, Curt Cavin, Robin Miller, Jeff Olson, Kenny Sargent, Patrick Stephan of TSO, Lauren Bohlander, and Arni the Insider, who an IRL official called “a legend in his own mind.”</name drop>

Weather: Often scorching in August, the days were sunny and cool instead, with Sunday starting off foggy and featuring a stiff breeze that kept a chill in the air.

Track action: In addition to IndyCars and Indy Lights, the Formula D drift series and the Historic Grand Prix cars were here. Love seeing the old Formula 1 cars, especially the #2 machine driven by my pal Bud Moeller.

Social studies: A real highlight of the weekend was the TweetUp organized by Vision Racing and Infineon Raceway. Meeting Pat Caporali and Michael Kaltenmark from Vision, Chris from Versus (he tweets @VersusIndyCar), Pippa Mann and Dani Shoe was a real blast. Dani and I chatted until they took away the tables and chairs. If there’s a TweetUp at a race near you – go!

Loud, smelly cars: This is not a complaint. I love the noise and the ethanol exhaust and the colors that become a blur at speed. The bustle and growing tension of the grid just before the engines fire is a special moment to stand in the middle of.

The crowd: The stands were as full as any other time I can remember, if not a little more. The raceway did some serious saturation promoting in the weeks leading up to the race — packages featuring two-for-one seats, all access passes, and chances to chat with Dario, Rick Mears, and Johnny Rutherford. People seemed to be having a great time despite the economy, which was a heartening thing to witness.

The race: From pole to Victory Circle, it was all Dario Franchitti this weekend. The circus start and all the contact during the race made it a busy one to follow. As many others have pointed out, this was one of the better events held at Infineon.

Thanks: Many thanks to Kohl and the gang here at Planet-IRL.com for the chance to represent and share my thoughts and photos with you. It was a great time!

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