Sonoma Raceway Hosted Its First Road Course Spectator Event 50 Years Ago March 29-30, 1969

Photo Credit Stephen Lathrop

50 years ago this weekend, Sears Point Raceway’s 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course officially opened for business. 

The first race of 1969 for the San Francisco Region of the SCCA was more than just another local race, this was something special.  The March weekend marked the official opening of Sears Point Raceway, the newest purpose-built road-race track in Northern California.  As expected, amateur racers from all over the West Coast arrived to test their skills against at the new road course.

Beside the opportunity to race a new track, another reason for the large turnout was the event’s designation as a National Level race, quite an honor for a new race track.  In addition to those San Francisco Region drivers racing for Regional honors, they could also race for National points with hopes of making it to the National Championship races in the Fall.

Of all the races held over the weekend, two in particular were hotly contested with exciting finishes.  The A Production Class race for big bore sports cars was a very tight race between Corvette and Porsche.  Herb Caplan (Corvette) was able to outduel Dick Barbour (Porsche 904) to take the victory.  In the A Sports Racing Class, Merle Brennan (Genie) battled throughout the race with Duane Zinola (Lola T70) and appeared to have the race won.  However on the final turn of the last lap, Brennan had a slight spin that allowed Zinola to zip past for the victory.  In winning the race, Zinola set the first track record at 1.51:06.

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