Sonoma Raceway: The Race in Photos

Photojournalism: R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

The 6th race of the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro season took place on 25 June at the Sonoma {CA} Raceway. Sonoma Raceway is located about 10 miles southwest of Napa and is situated in the heart of the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country. The immediate area of the track is one of vineyards, bird sanctuaries, wetlands, and rolling hills. Adding to those elements are golden grass covered hillsides and green trees, all of which make this racing facility one of the most scenic anywhere.

The Sonoma track is a road course which encompasses nearly every parameter necessary to make a lap here both difficult and highly technical. In fact, the technical aspect of this track is of such a magnitude that a very fast lap around this road course takes one minute and fifteen seconds, which results in a modest average speed for the 1.9 mile distance.

The #61 RTTI Chevrolet of Thompson Motorsports was unloaded from the hauler Friday morning. It quickly passed NASCAR Inspection and was rolled out to its trackside pit position. There was an obvious bit of positive anticipation in the #61 pits as the first few laps of practice indicated that the car was ‘pretty good’. However, a multitude of mechanical issues quickly damped the initial enthusiasm as the TMS Crew changed part after part as they tried to identify the reason for a short duration, and random, engine ‘cut-out’ problem.

A total of 38 cars were entered in this race. After practicing 20th quick, the #61 car was only capable of qualifying, and starting, in 26th place. With several handling issues still unresolved at race time, it was simply impossible for Brett to make any substantial progress through the field. The car finally surrendered to its many ‘gremlins’ on lap #59, of a scheduled 68, when a clutch failure forced Brett out of the race.

Sonoma Raceway is well known for its scenic beauty, highly technical race track, and, very steep hills!

As race fans know the track was, at one time, known as Sears Point. “Cougar Mountain”?? Well, thanks to a large number of deer in the area, jogging at dusk and dawn remains as a safe way to exercise {maybe!!}.

Friday morning and the 38 car NASCAR K&N Pro field takes up most of the Grandstand Pit area

After passing through NASCAR Tech inspection the TMS Crew begins setting the car up for Friday’s practice sessions. Note: Friday was a very HOT day with ramp temperatures hovering around 100 degrees!

After about 10 laps, the #61 car returns to the pits … it had an engine that was ‘stumbling’ on acceleration.

The TMS Crew talks with Brett Thompson regarding the engine problem. The source of the problem was later diagnosed and a solution was found.

During a ‘break’ in their duties, some of the NASCAR Officials adhere to the “any port in a storm” concept as they try to get away from the 100 degree heat and the overhead Sun.

Meanwhile, in the Pit area some of Brett Thompson’s family is present to support their team members … and, quite obviously, to also tease the photographers!

The Sonoma Management and Employees are a very friendly group. The corner workers shown insisted that the TMS Photographer, showing signs of overheating, join them under their umbrella. Their CARE was appreciated!

The #61 car just above the tunnel turn; the car became quicker near the end of the 2nd practice session.

Sonoma is almost 2 miles around and full of steep climbs. Thanks to a caring Management Team, such as Steve Page and Dianna Brenan, etc., a shuttle service is provided to aid people who have to locate themselves at various points around the track. Is ‘Shuttle Steve’, in wearing those sunglasses, ‘going Hollywood’ on us?

Saturday was race day – and it was also a cooler day! Above; Series Director Kip Childress {L} and Race Director Larry Harper prepare to address the pre-race Drivers Meeting.

Driver Introduction at Sonoma features the ‘Sonoma Raceway Girls’… and also Brett Thompson!!!

Brett’s family gathers to wish him good luck. Both children are racers in their own right, but they are ski racers. And yes, both are 2015 race champions in their own age group classification!

The start of the race!

There is 160 feet of elevation change in a lap around ‘Sonoma’

Using the rumble strips to help the car turn can be an upsetting activity!

Late in the race – and the view is to the South

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