This week, NASCAR is visiting Wine Country for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. It might not seem like it, but northern California is most definitely race country. To help you get the most of out of your tailgating experience this weekend, here are our five Fast Facts for Sonoma. None of them have anything to do with wine, unfortunately.
1. Make sure you pre-purchase Tailgate Parking
Sonoma offers parking specifically for tailgating in either Lots 12 or 13, and the good news is that you can reserve it ahead of time. The bad news is that you can only do so by calling the box office (800-870-7223). So if you have tailgate plans this weekend, get to calling sooner rather than later. Tailgating spots for NASCAR events fill up very fast, and Sonoma has a relatively small number of tailgate spaces (just two lots out of 14) relative to other tracks.
2. The Will Call area is different for NASCAR events
If you’re picking up your tickets at the track, be advised that Sonoma moves the location of their Will Call window specifically for NASCAR weekend. Will Call this Sunday is found at the Gate 9 entrance on Lakeville Highway, very far away from its normal Gate 1 location. Although this might be stating the obvious, make sure you bring a photo ID to pick up your tickets. It’s a requirement that they check ID before they give them to you.
3. Bring sunscreen!
We can’t stress this enough. This is California in the early summer, it will be hot in the asphalt parking space where you are tailgating. On top of that, the majority of Sonoma Raceway’s seats are in the sun, so you need to prepare accordingly. Take plenty of sunscreen, your sunglasses and probably some water too (be aware that as at most other NASCAR tracks, you cannot bring umbrellas). The American Academy of Dermatology has some great information about sun protection and skin cancer prevention.
4. Make sure you have the right kind of grill
Sonoma is tailgate-friendly, but with one specific request: If you are grilling, use a propane gas grill only. That’s right, no charcoal on the premises. To quote Hank Hill from King of the Hill, it’s just “propane and propane accessories.” You also cannot have a fire pit or other barbecue pit while tailgating. So the easiest thing for you grill masters is just to stick with the propane grill and not worry about anything else.
5. Seat cushions are strongly recommended
For those of you who bought tickets for the Terrace areas in Turns 2, 3, 7 or 9 — those seats are concrete. Remember fact three above? You’ll be sitting on concrete in the sun, in California’s afternoon heat, and the green flag is scheduled for noon local time. Unless you want to scald yourself for a few hours, bring a seat cushion. Shorts might be a bad idea, too; the less skin you can expose to the concrete, the better. The only thing that should be hot is your barbecue!
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 takes place at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 28 at 3 p.m. ET.