If you’ve always wanted to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed but found crossing the pond too problematic, a new California-based event may be something you’ll want to keep an eye on. The 2019 Sonoma Speed Festival will run May 31 through June 2 this year at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, and effectively replaces the decades-old Wine Country Classic vintage race weekend and introduces new organizers as well.
Borrowing elements of its name from the popular Goodwood Festival of Speed in Chichester, England, the new festival says it will “draw inspiration from top-tier motorsports events around the world to deliver an incredible collection of historic cars, a great on-track experience for drivers, and an interactive and enjoyable spectator event in the heart of California’s premiere wine-growing region.” The new race weekend experience arrives for the 50th anniversary of Sonoma Raceway, a track better known to many under its old name of Sears Point.
The man behind the Sonoma Speed Festival is Jeff O’Neill, CEO and Founder of O’Neill Vintners and Distillers, a wine- and brandy-producing behemoth in California’s Sonoma wine region. More than that, O’Neill is said to own a pair of classic Maserati race cars—a Tipo 61 “Birdcage” sports racer and a 250F grand prix car.
While it’s unclear just what aspects of the popular Goodwood hillclimb event (and perhaps Goodwood’s separate Revival circuit race event) the new organizer plans to bring to the Sonoma Speed Festival, a press release states a “plan to create an immersive paddock experience that transports fans and drivers to different eras of motorsports history and feature legendary race cars and drivers while incorporating delicious food and wine from Sonoma’s best vintners and chefs.” Attendees will also be treated to “historic and cultural exhibits in the paddock which will unravel the Evolution of Speed.”
Ticket packages and prices have not yet been announced, but several starring cars have, such as two Ferrari 250 GTOs, a Ferrari 250 Testarossa, and ex-Niki Lauda’s 1977 Ferrari 312 T2 Formula 1 car. A Maserati 300S and Tipo 61, two Gulf-livery Porsche 917Ks, two ex-Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Types and several prewar cars are already scheduled to attend.
You can be sure we’ll be there to have a look and we’re hopeful the event is able to bring a new spin to vintage racing in the U.S., especially with the popular Monterey Car Week and Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion occurring just two short months later in August.