Monday, September 09, 2013

WTCC race in Sonoma

For the second year, WTCC came to America. Specifically, nearby Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon).

The crowd was at least three times bigger than last year's. We had to park on the far end of the venue and take a shuttle bus to the track. Last year, we parked just a few hundred meters from the track. These CTS-V safety/pace cars greeted us.

This year, there are just two manufacturer-backed teams-- Honda and Lada. It's obvious that Honda's budget was significant.

Last year, we had unfettered access to the garages and pits. This year, there was a lot more security and we had to actually pay (how dare they!) for the access.

I gravitated toward the Lada garage. As far as I can tell, it's Russian with a Greek affiliation. I asked the guys if I could buy a Lada Sport jersey. Nyet.

I think this is the engine of a SEAT Leon.

FIA scrutineering bay. A handful of cars were penalized and sent to the back of the grid because their seats were moved too far back (by millimeters).

Here is the view from the Lada during the start of the first race. As you can see, the haze was pretty bad from the Rim Fire (discussed below).

Audi has a facility at the track and this WEC racer was on display. It's inside what looks like a huge diecast toy box.

The main reason the crowd was much bigger is because they had a stance/VIP show in the lower parking lot. I saw for the first time those Japanese cars with massive camber. There were a few relatively stock-looking classic Japanese rides though.

An R/C drifting track.

Tom Chilton, F1's Max Chilton's brother, won the first race in this Aon Chevy yesterday. WTCC has two races (13 laps per race here in Sonoma). The first race's line-up is based on qualifying times. In the second race, the drivers who qualified in the top ten start in reverse order.

In the two races, Lada's best result was 13th.

There was also a 911 GT3 Cup support race, along with a Yokohama drift demonstration.

This was the neatest car in the lot. On the way home, I saw an all-white G-wagen (including the wheels). I really want to drive one now.

The air quality was already bad because of the Rim Fire in Yosemite. It is California's third biggest fire in recorded history (covering almost 400 square miles). Then, this nearby fire erupted and burned down dry grass and a wooden palette warehouse.

Then, on the way home, we spotted this fire on Mt. Diablo. It is the geographic icon of Contra Costa County, where I live. It is currently still out of control. That we are in the middle of a heat wave is not helping.

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