NASCAR's annual visit to the Sonoma wine country marks one of the Bay Area's largest single-day sporting events, and 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.
Traffic on the surrounding roadways is expected to be most affected during the following days/times:
Â· Friday, June 26: 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Â· Saturday, June 27: Moderate traffic expected with lane controls in place all day
Â· Sunday, June 28: Non-race fans should avoid the area all day
The heaviest traffic is expected on Sunday, and race fans heading to the track are advised to arrive early (gates open at 7 a.m.) to avoid traffic and enjoy the complete race-day experience.
A primary focus is to educate non-race attendees about alternate 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 initiatives include:
- A total of 46 changeable message signs 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 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.
- 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.
Sonoma Raceway has worked closely with the 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 Sonoma Raceway's efforts to minimize the impact of traffic in and around the raceway," said CHP Sergeant Brad Bradshaw. "The raceway has done an excellent job advising residents, businesses and visitors of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys with its mailers, signage and electronic message boards. Following the implementation of this new traffic plan in 2014, we saw a substantial reduction in traffic issues during events around the raceway."
The raceway also encourages guests to explore two of its most popular mass transit options, including the 3rd annual Raceway Fun Train from Sacramento, which will bring nearly 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 29 locations around Northern California.
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.
For more information about the Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway's traffic plan, best routes to and from the race and transportation options, visit www.racesonoma.com/traffic or call 800-870-7223.