So we drove on Sonoma Raceway.

  • Creator
  • #2320
    GT0 (Alex)

    You know Infineon erm I mean Sears Point…. or whatever.

    We went for the Historic motor races mainly 60s and 70s era cars – 60s Sports Car class, IMSA, Can Am, 70s F1 etc. It was a charity event and if you donated money to the cause you could pick a race car to ride along in! Obviously this was only for cars that had 2 seats and a willing owner.

    Two cars really caught my eye. The 197x BMW CSL 3.5l IMSA and the 1970 Datson 240z IMSA. Although there were some old vettes, an old Ferrari GTO, Boss 302, Lotus, Jag etc the BMW and Datson really reminds me of watching auto racing when I was young. The BMW in particular, I don’t know how I know it but its always been in my mind somehow.

    Turns out my wife loved the Datson too and she picked that one.

    197x BMW CSL 3.5l IMSA
    Power is somewhere between 370 to 440 HP and 2200 lbs or about the same power/weight ratio as a modern GT3 class car. This car model (not this specific car afaik) did well in the mid-70s IMSA era and won the Daytona 24 hours race i 1976.

    1970 Datson 240z IMSA

    During the 1976 season the team saw even more success. Out of the eleven events they entered in ’76, they won eight of them – easily taking the IMSA GTU championship that year. What was even more impressive is that they were able to defeat the Datsun works team, which was campaigning its own Zs at the time.

    Developed and run by Transcendental Racing. This was the first 240z imported into the US and is a show car quality race car.

    The Drive
    So it didn’t feel fast crawling into the car and strapping in but apparently it was because we were first of the cars ready to leave the pits. We had to wait while more cars stagged along pit lane. The officials let 2 other cars go ahead of us for some reason, but I think one of those might have been the Jag D type. So we’re off…

    As we launched and I mean launched out of the pits for our “warm-up lap” the initial acceleration of the car felt like being punched. I’ve been on some fast bikes so I figured I knew what to expect, but I was wrong.

    While we headed up the hill to the turn my mind was still occupied with the launch experience and I was wholly unprepared for the first few turns. Once we reached the downhill section near T4 we started to catch the cars that left before us.

    I was more prepared for the next few turns except that the lateral forces were absolutely staggering. The amount of cornering force that car is capable of completely reset my concept of what a car can do. I don’t know if the cold tires made any difference but I could feel individual pieces of tire tread losing grip and stressing at their limit. If the car was on its side my body would not have felt as heavy as it did going around those corners.

    On the back chicane he passed a car like it was standing still. On the entrance to the hairpin, there was a car driving on the right side of the track and he slowed down and there was some uncertainty about what was going to happen but the other car abruptly pulled in front of us forcing us to slow more. To be fair they left plenty of room on the grass.

    Coming down the front straight we managed to get around the track fast enough that other cars were still getting out of pit lane, so we hit heavy, slow traffic. Well I am not sure it was slow but compared to our “out-lap” it felt slow. The driver shortened the radius of some of the turns to make it a bit more fun but I was definitely coming down off of the massive high of that first crazy lap behind $million worth of cars.

    Funny thing about the slow traffic we were behind – a modern Ferrari, an Alfa 4C, some 60s era race car – my driver and car could have passed any of them easily at any time. It wasn’t a race of course but I doubt they were trying to drive slowly.

    We pitted after that and I have been thinking about the ride ever since. Unforgettable experience.

    I waited for my wife to get her ride and she came back with much the same feeling.

    See the rest of the pic here:


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  • #2324
    Allen Reeves

    That looks like an awesome experience, Alex. What a great era of racing that was. Nice to see such beauty still roaming the tracks.


    Looks awesome Alex.

    What a great experience. The look on your face sitting in the BMW says it all. Pure excitement!

    The paint scheme on that BMW screams early 70’s, LOL

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