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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sonoma County for Car Guys

During your visit to Sonoma County you might not want to drink wine all the time! What else can a car (or motorcycle) guy (or gal) do while in the area? 

The most obvious car-related part of Sonoma County is the raceway formerly known as Sears Point and Infineon and for now called simply Sonoma Raceway. It's a very technical (meaning no straight parts) road course. There's also a 1/4 track and a kart track. All are available to use by the public at various times. For spectating there are major professional events during the year and some smaller ones that can be just as fun and a lot cheaper to attend.

Ferrari Challenge weekend at Sonoma Raceway

There are numerous car shows during the year: Peggy Sue's All-American Cruise is the biggest with acres of cars on display with the highlight being a Saturday evening cruise of downtown Santa Rosa. There's the Father's Day Show & Shine and a custom auto show also in Santa Rosa. Petaluma hosts the American Graffiti Classic Car Show.

Peggy Sue downtown cruise

You can rent a sports car, a Harley, or have someone drive you around the wineries in a classic muscle car.

You can bring or rent an appropriate vehicle and drive some great roads yourself. With the mountains, valleys and coast line there are lots of choices. Here are a few:

  • Mark West Springs and Calistoga Roads. Both traverse the Mayacamas Mountains from the Santa Rosa area to Calistoga in Napa Valley.
  • Trinity Road / Oakville Grade. From Sonoma Valley to Oakville in Napa Valley. There are switchbacks on the Sonoma side. The view dropping into Napa is spectacular.
  • Highway 128 from Geyserville to Calistoga through vineyards and forests.
  • Chalk Hill Road from the south end of Alexander Valley to the Windsor area.
  • Pacific Coast Highway (aka State Highway 1). Driving north-to-south puts you on the water side so you can easily pull off at the various overlooks and beaches. My favorite coast loop is River Road out to Jenner, south through Bodega Bay then back inland via the Bodega Highway. PCH can have a lot of traffic on some weekends.
  • Coleman Valley Road. An adventurous way to visit the Pacific coast. Watch out for the sheep!
  • Skaggs Springs from the north end of Dry Creek Valley out to the coast. Narrow, winding, dark.
  • Westside & West Dry Creek Roads from the Russian River Valley through Dry Creek Valley. Great vineyard views. Some parts of the road are are less than two cars wide.
Westside Road