Since 1968, CSRG (the Classic Sports Racing Group) has been putting on vintage and historic car races at a variety of tracks in Northern California. We put on two events annually at Sonoma Raceway, usually in early April (The David Love Memorial Races) and in early October (The Charity Challenge). This event, the Love Memorial, honors one of our founders and biggest supporters, David Love. Both events are intended to be family affairs and children are enthusiastically welcomed. High school and college students as well as vets are admitted free with appropriate ID.
You will find that the competitors are more than willing to put kids in their cars and let them try them on for size. For parents, a camera is a must. CSRG tries to imagine how this kaleidoscope of cars and noise appears to young people---and then we try to do whatever we can to engage them in it. The people who work on and drive these cars are just overgrown children. To a large percentage of them the appeal of racing was born when they were children and the emotion and enthusiasm connected to racing has not changed or diminished in the intervening years.
One ticket buys you full access to all spectator areas. Parking is included. The only additional expenses will be food (more on that later) and the track rides at The Charity Challenge in the Fall. Again, our intention is to make this an easy-to-afford, family event.
The format for our races generally follows the format that the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) instituted in the 50s and 60s. The cars are split into 8 or 9 run groups that are determined by car type and vintage, for the most part. You will have 2-3 car classes in a single run group---you might even have two similar cars that are in two different classes within the race group because they have different engine sizes. For each group there is a qualifying session on Saturday morning and a race in the afternoon. On Sunday there is a morning race, as well as an afternoon race. Each race is 20 to 30 minutes in length. Because we have competitors entering right up until a few days before the event, the schedule is not available until the Monday before the weekend, and is posted on this site. However, generally speaking, the cars take to the track by @9AM each day with an hour-long break at lunchtime.
Vintage car racing is all about the cars and their history. The drivers, unless professional or somehow associated with the car's history, are often only referred to as having a custodial role. The purpose of vintage racing events is to showcase the car, its place in racing history and to make the car as accessible as possible for the enjoyment of others.
In Patton, George C. Scott says he "could smell a battlefield…and its history"; the same applies to vintage racercars. Their mere presence speaks volumes to those with a good imagination and a keen sense of "smell" for racing history. You can see the Lotus 27 that carried the King of Formula Junior, Peter Arundell to so many wins, or the "taxicab" Mustang Boss 302 that brought a Trans-Am championship to Ford in the hands of Parnelli Jones and George Follmer. How about the 1926 ex-Seaman Delage resurrected by famous mechanic Giulio Ramponi and then owned by Rob Walker? It survived World War II and a fire that destroyed Walker's Lotus 49 prior to the 1968 British GP---a race that Walker's driver, Jo Siffert, won in another 49. Or a Lotus 23 like the one with which Jimmy Clark lead all of the factory Aston Martins, Porsche and Ferraris at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in 1962? Nuvolari's Alfa Romeo, a Brabham BT8 like the one driven by the man himself---the list goes on and on. There's everything from Shadow Can-Am cars to championship winning Huffaker Genies and MGBs. If formula cars are your passion, there are ex-Villeneuve and Rosberg Atlantic cars as well as F1 cars driven in the day by the likes of Andretti, Lauda, Hunt, Scheckter and Stuck. There are the purposeful looking Porsches and exquisite Alfa Romeo SSs, GTAs, TZ1s and the demonically quick Mini-Coopers. How about a Corvette? Take your pick and let your sense of "smell", memory and imagination run wild.
Accessibility is the key ingredient with old cars. How else to indulge the imagination? Access allows you to talk to the owners and learn about how their cars survived all manner of the punishment life can hand out, from the usual races and crashes, to the changing priorities and roadblocks of life caused by love, divorce (even crime!), or the more typical fate of an old race car, the wrecking yard. In many cases the car has narrowly survived an untimely end, only to be saved by someone sensitive to what it represented. To get a feel for that experience, a ticket allows you to walk the paddock, touch the cars and stand a good chance of being invited to sit in one. At our Fall event, The Charity Challenge, you can buy a three lap ride in a race car if you are at least 16 years old, in good health & are wearing pants & a long-sleeved shirt. The cost ranges from $75 & up depending upon the type of car you choose—-see the photos on this page or on the "Gallery" page under the "Charity Challenge Rides" button to get an idea of the cars used for the rides. Get ready for a giant-sized portion of pure adrenalin rush. Forget amusement parks, roller coasters, or any other pop, kiddy-stimuli. This is the real thing!
Hopefully immersing yourself in the history and presence of these cars will provide insight into how they came to be and what their contribution was to race car development. These cars are not the spec racers of today. NASCAR, Indycar and even F1 to a degree, have opted for spec racers, either explicitly through the rules, or implicitly through restricted regulations that limit a designer's choices. Even more controlled are the feeder series in modern racing. Virtually all of it is comprised of identical, "cookie-cutter" cars using spec chassis, spec motors and spec tires. Conversely, you might have difficulty finding two identical cars at a vintage event. There might be a few with just subtle differences, but the majority of them are fundamentally different from one another. Maybe some of the differences resulted in a slower car, but the changes are part of the story that brought us to where we are today.
Have fun, involve yourself with the drivers and crew and enjoy the experience.