Report and photos by Dennis Gray
Historic Grand Prix race cars returned to Infineon Raceway Sears Point as a support race for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend on August 26-28, 2011.
A field of 15 vintage 3-liter Formula One race cars from 1966-1983 made their presence known on the 12-turn 2.303 mile Infineon Raceway Sears Point road course. Open-wheel race fans enjoyed the step back in time provided by the vintage F1, in addition to the contrasting sounds provided by the historic F1 Cosworths. As one spectator remarked, “the Cosworths sound like racing engines, while the (modern) Honda Indy car engine sounds like a model airplane engine on steroids.”
In addition to the on-track action, fans enjoyed visiting the Historic Grand Prix display in the main paddock. In fact, many veteran IRL team members kept walking and lingering around the Historic pits instead of tending to their official duties as members of IRL teams. They reveled in pointing out the cars they had worked on or raced against in year’s past. Further, during the short Historic Grand Prix race on Sunday, the pit wall was lined with IRL mechanics enjoying the Historic Grand Prix support race.
Notable entrants included the 1978-79 Lotus 79 of Doc Bundy, the first F1 car to fully leverage ground effects, the ex-Jackie Oliver 1973 Shadow DN1 of Keith Frieser, Tom Minnich’s McLaren M26 formerly driven by James Hunt, Doug Mockett’s ex-John Watson Penske PC-4 and the fast March 821 of Chris Bender, among others.
FYI: The IZOD IndyCar Series race saw Will Power pull away for victory, becoming the first two-time winner in seven years of the event at Infineon Raceway Sears Point. Power paced a Team Penske 1-2-3 finish as Helio Castroneves was second and Ryan Briscoe came home in third place.
Historic Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway Sears Point 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
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[Source: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; photo credit: Dennis Gray]