Sonoma Raceway Previews Traffic Plan, New Efforts for Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) today unveiled their plans to mitigate race-day traffic on area roadways during this Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
NASCAR's annual visit to the Sonoma wine country marks one of the Bay Area's largest single-day sporting events each year. The addition of racing fans to the normal wine country visitor traffic puts tremendous strain on the surrounding road systems, particularly the two-lane stretches of Highways 37 and 121.
A primary focus this year will be to educate non-race attendees about alternative routes in and out of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. In past years, up to 85% of the drivers passing the raceway on Highways 37 and 121 during peak entry and exit times are not attending the event. When combined with race traffic, the results can bring hours of congestion for all drivers.
The raceway's traffic management plan includes an array of measures intended to divert ambient traffic from the adjacent highways on race day. Some of these new initiatives include:
- A total of 46 changeable message signs—25 more than in prior years—will be distributed along highways up to a 15-mile radius around the facility directing ambient traffic away from Highways 37 and 121.
- Widespread distribution of traffic warnings, including maps and alternate routes, to local restaurants, hotels and wineries for both residents and visitors.
- Seven new signs placed along Highway 121 to direct raceway guests to the appropriate entry gate. The signs will also help explain lane delineation for raceway and Sonoma/Napa traffic.
- Additional parking staff will remain in the lots to help organize and manage exiting traffic.
- The raceway will employ a traffic manager, who will work closely with a CHP officer to provide real-time direction to maximize ingress and egress for raceway traffic.
- Raceway will utilize its on-site radio station (87.9 FM) to provide exiting guidance and driving routes.
"Our goal is to improve the experience for our guests, but also to minimize the disruption our event creates for other travelers throughout the area," said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. "By using alternate routes, which may look longer on a map, local drivers will actually save themselves time and frustration, and ultimately reach their destinations more quickly."
Sonoma Raceway has worked closely with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Caltrans to develop and execute this plan, which will utilize more than 30 CHP and Caltrans workers on race day.
"The CHP supports and endorses the efforts by Sonoma Raceway to help minimize the impact of traffic in and around the raceway," said CHP Sergeant Brad Bradshaw. "We feel these efforts have gone above and beyond to assist the public."
Race fans heading to the track are advised to arrive early on Sunday morning to beat traffic and enjoy the complete race-day experience.
In addition, the raceway encourages all guests to explore two of its most popular mass transit options, including the 2nd annual NASCAR Express Train from Sacramento, which will bring 700 race fans to the track by rail, and the SportsFan Express bus program, which is slated to bring in more than 1,000 fans from 27 locations around Northern California.
Fans can also delay jumping into post-race traffic and enjoy a walk around the road course at the annual post-race Track Walk. The walk will feature specially-painted lug nuts dropped around the road course, each of which is redeemable for a valuable prize at the Ticket Pit Stop located behind the Main Grandstand.
To ensure sufficient parking for its disabled guests, Sonoma Raceway will again work with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office on a stringent placard check. Sheriffs will check each car and driver for its Handicap Placard, matching paperwork with name and placard number and a valid Driver's License. Persons displaying fake or placards that are not their own will be fined, ticketed and required to appear in court.