SONOMA — In another sign the 2021 racing season may be inching closer to a new normal, the National Hot Rod Association announced Wednesday that it will return to Sonoma Raceway next year.
It’s the second major event to confirm its return to the road course after a COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown in 2020.
The 11,000-horsepower dragsters of the newly rebranded NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is scheduled to return to Sonoma Raceway July 23-25, joining NASCAR’s Save Mart 350 on June 6 as the foundation of the raceway’s professional event season.
“The NHRA Sonoma Nationals is a unique weekend carnival that rattles the hills with horsepower, speed and fun,” said Sonoma Raceway President and General Manager Steve Page. “I know our fans will be excited to see the big show return next July.”
Page and the NHRA emphasized they will stage the race in compliance with any conditions set by public health officials regarding crowd size, which can’t be predicted now. Even so, all fans who have tickets for the cancelled 2020 NHRA event will be contacted regarding the 2021 race, the speedway confirmed, and details about deposits, ticket sales and qualifying days will be announced soon.
Sonoma Raceway’s drag strip is one of the quickest and fastest in the country. Its traditional Friday night qualifying sessions are often record-setting extravaganzas, complete with the showmanship of flame-belching machines. Robert Hight of John Force Racing set the standing NHRA Funny Car national speed record in Sonoma at 339.87 mph in 2017.
The Sonoma race will be the 12th of 22 events on the NHRA’s 2021 schedule, and begin a grueling Western Swing of three successive weekends that includes Denver and Seattle.
Due to COVID restrictions and financial issues, the NHRA ran a meager 11 races in 2020. Some of its top teams, such as the multi-car team of John Force Racing, sat on the sidelines. But a new title sponsor, RV manufacturer Camping World, and the return of a full race schedule are signs of a rebound.
Click bit.ly/2I0tqO7 for a YouTube video of last year’s Sonoma Nationals.