Motorists should expect heavy traffic this weekend in the Sonoma Raceway area during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
The annual race on Sunday is one of the Bay Area's largest single-day sporting events as racing fans and wine country visitors alike jam the two-lane stretches of state Highways 37 and 121, with ripple effects in Napa County.
The festivities begin Friday, but the heaviest traffic is expected Sunday. Race fans are encouraged to arrive early at Sonoma Raceway located at the intersection of the two highways. Gates open Sunday at 7 a.m.
This year's NASCAR race is also a celebration of Sonoma Raceway's 50th anniversary. The raceway has hosted a NASCAR Cup event since 1989.
Sunday's 90-lap race is a return to Sonoma Raceway's full 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course that hasn't been used for NASCAR since 1997.
Traffic on roads around the racing venue is expected to be heavy between 3 and 7 p.m. Friday and moderate with lane controls all day Saturday.
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Non-race fans should avoid the area all day Sunday, and campers exiting the raceway's campground will likely create traffic congestion on Monday morning.
Race-day parking is available in the 50-acre campground located across the road on Highway 121. Sonoma Raceway officials say the campground parking may provide the quickest ingress and egress for drivers coming from Napa or Sonoma.
In past years, as many as 85 percent of the drivers passing the raceway on Highways 121 and 37 during the peak entry and exit times are not attending the race, raceway officials said. Combined with the actual race traffic, motorists might face hours of congestion.
The raceway provides bus service from 17 locations in Northern California.
Sonoma Raceway and the California Highway Patrol again will enforce stringent checks of vehicles bearing handicap placards. Sheriff's deputies will check to make sure the paperwork matches the placard and driver's license numbers. Guests with disabilities who have handicap placards should enter the raceway at Gate 1, the main entrance on Highway 121.
More information about the race and best routes to and from Sonoma Raceway is available at www.sonomaraceway.com or by calling (800) 870-7223.