News flash: I know nothing about stock car racing.
When we were invited to attend the #Cars3Event, and told that we would be visiting Sonoma Raceway, I had to do a little bit of research. The boys in my home love car racing, and Disney Pixar’s Cars, but it was difficult for me to get into either. But, thanks to a fun trip to Disneyland, and my new appreciation for racing, I knew this experience at Sonoma Raceway was going to be epic.
We had a day fully immersed in the development of Cars 3, as well as learning more about the world of Stock Car racing. We had a “pit stop challenge” to see who could change those tires faster than Guido and Luigi.
We got to virtually drive a racer (which I was horrible at doing), and we even were able to tour the private garages right on Sonoma Raceway premises.
Some of the cars we saw were amazing to admire.
The History of NASCAR
While we attended many sessions my favorite has to be The History of Stock Car Racing. This session was led by Jay Ward, the Creative Director of Cars, and Ray Evernham, Former Crew Chief for Hendrick Motorsports. Don’t know what Hendrick Motorsports is? Well, I didn’t either. Until Ray mentioned one of their most favorite drivers, Mario Andretti. I may not know much about racing, but I KNOW Mario. Jersey kids, represent!
We learned about legendary racers Wendell Scott, Louise Smith, Junior Johnson, and Smokey Yunick, and the influence they had within the beginning of the development of NASCAR. I learned that stock car racing, and NASCAR in particular, started when moonshiners would race each other while on their runs. These races started to attract bystanders, and they knew this could become something big. Sundays became “race days,” which is a tradition that continues to this day. These pioneers are some of the stars of Cars 3, as the animators have turned their likenesses into the cars they used to drive in their racing days. How cool is that?
Stock Car Racing Pioneers – Louise Smith and Wendell Scott
Two of the stock car pioneers really intrigued me through their stories. Louise Smith was known at “the first lady of racing” amongst the early days of NASCAR. She was sick and tired of being told that women couldn’t enter the races, so she took her family’s car and entered. She was the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Wendell Scott was the first African American NASCAR driver, and was the first African American to win in NASCAR’s highest level of racing, the Grand National Series. Wendell ran an auto-repair shop, but decided to take up moonshine running, and later, stock car racing. Because he was African American, he constantly experienced prejudice within the racing circles. Wendell was even forced to do all of his own pit stop repairs, mid-race, all by himself! And yes, he still won his races. Phenomenal.
Riding on the Sonoma Raceway course
While I may not have known much about stock car racing, it has always been a dream of mine to race in a car. Sonoma Raceway has a road course, which is different (and some say more difficult) than the usual oval raceway we see on TV. We were given the opportunity to ride the course with a professional driver behind the wheel! WHAT! I was so excited to scratch this off of my dream list, and get a taste of what Lightening McQueen experiences every time he races. I think I smiled the entire time. Wait, I DID smile the entire time! Check out our ride in the fun video below:
There is so much more to share about our time at Sonoma Raceway, and all that we learned about Cars 3 and stock car racing. Stay tuned for more posts highlighting this amazing day.