SONOMA — Pitching great Vida Blue, a star for both the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants, has been named grand marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Sonoma Raceway, June 20-22.
Blue, who was a key starter for the A’s three consecutive world championship teams in 1972-74, also helped lead a resurgent Giants franchise through a dramatic 1978 campaign following a cross-bay trade. He was the first pitcher ever to start the All-Star Game for both the American League (1971) and the National League (1978).
Blue will be honored on Friday, June 20, at the Children’s Champions Grand Marshal’s Banquet at Cline Cellars in Sonoma. The gala is a fundraiser for the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. He will also take part in pre-race activities on Sunday, June 22, and participate in the official command of, “Drivers, start your engines.”
In 1971, Blue’s first full season with Oakland, he went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA, and earned both the Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award. That year, he became the only player ever to be the starting pitcher in the league opener, the All-Star Game and the playoff opener in the same season. He was also featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.
During his 17-year career, Blue pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1969-77), San Francisco Giants (1978-81; 1985-86) and Kansas City Royals (1982-83).
“Vida is one of the greatest competitors ever to take the mound in either league, but he’s also one of the most engaging personalities in the industry and I know he’s going to be a big hit with our fans at the race, regardless of their team loyalties,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager.
For more information or to purchase a seat or table for the Grand Marshal’s Banquet, contact Cheri Plattner at 933-3950 or visit http://sonoma.speedwaycharities.org/events/grand_marshal_banquet/.
Toyota/Save Mart 350 preview show debuts on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area this weekend
SONOMA — Race fans can get a jumpstart on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in Sonoma with the “Toyota/Save Mart 350 Preview Show” on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
The half-hour show debuts on Saturday, at 5:30 p.m. on CSN Bay Area and will also air on the following days and times leading up to race weekend, June 20-22:
June 8, 9:30 p.m.; June 13, 3 p.m.; June 17, 3:30 p.m.; June 20, 6:30 p.m.
This year’s preview show will include a feature on the new powerhouse team at Stewart-Haas Racing, including Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, at look at the best NASCAR driver to not yet win a championship, and a celebration of Toyota’s 10-year anniversary in NASCAR.
Sonoma Raceway unveils new fan council for 2014 race season
SONOMA – Sonoma Raceway will introduce an all-new fan council for the 2014 race season. It’s part of the facility’s continued efforts to enhance and improve the race-day experience for its guests.
Following an initial application process, the raceway has selected a group of 14 fans who will provide a reflection of what they see, hear and experience while attending Sonoma Raceway events. They will be tasked with communicating directly and routinely with track personnel to provide feedback and suggestions for improving raceway operations and offerings.
The inaugural group includes a cross section of fans of varying ages, genders, backgrounds, racing interests, hometowns and race-day preferences, who will provide day-of communication and complete post-event surveys. Members will also participate in a group meeting in the fall to offer an overview of the 2014 season. All fans have committed to an initial one-year term.
The Sonoma Raceway Fan Council will hold its first meeting on Saturday, June 21, during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend.
Fan council members will be represented at all major-event weekends throughout the 2014 race season, and Sonoma Raceway plans to unveil results and action items based on the feedback it receives.