Hot rod races at Sonoma Raceway will bring the heat, traffic this weekend

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- They say it's going to be hot this weekend. We know a place where it already is.

"Yeah, we may put a little water down for the burnouts," said Brad Harvey, who works as a starter at National Hot Rod Association drag races.

Hosing down the burnout area may be one of the cooler jobs as drag racing comes to Sonoma Raceway this weekend.

"And how hot do some of those tires get?" we asked.

"120-130 degrees."

By the end of today, they will coat the concrete with rubber of an inch thick.

Then we heard a roar, saw smoke, and our guts jiggled. Must be another race.

Don't blink. You might miss a heat.

"Whoever wins this race will be on the track for many a minute and a half total," said Julie Jordan, who came here to watch her son.

"A minute and a half? That sounds like a long race."

"No. All weekend," she corrected. It's cumulative.

"Do your insides rattle?" we asked racing fan Dan McCarthy.

"Everything rattles. I love the action. I love the rush."

Assuming you've ever experienced this before, drag racing is an acquired taste. The fastest cars rate 11,000 horsepower.

Back in the pits and Mike Salinas of Monterey told us an engine lasts one race. They can change it, hot, in 28 minutes.

"The fastest I've been is 334 miles an hour in a thousand feet," he said, rendering 0-60 times irrelevant.

This weekend, that applies to the heatwave, as well.

"Well I am from Sacramento so this is cold right now," said Marlon Stewart sitting on a hill next to an RV.

"If it's that cold, then where is your jacket?"

"I'll have one tonight. Probably so."

Traffic will also be impacted this weekend during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals Mello Yello Drag Racing event on the drag strip of the Sonoma Raceway.

The heaviest traffic at the raceway located at state Highways 37 and 121 is expected Sunday between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Friday between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Gates to the event open 10 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The racing is expected to conclude around 4 p.m. Sunday.

Motorists not attending the event are encouraged to use alternate routes in and out of the Napa and Sonoma Valley.
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