NASCAR Returns to Sonoma Raceway Following Pandemic Hiatus

This weekend will see the first NASCAR race at Sonoma Raceway in 714 days and local businesses are ready for action. Andrea Nakano reports. (6-4-21)

Video Transcript

- Race weekend is getting underway in Sonoma County.

- Yeah, NASCAR's return to Sonoma Raceway. A welcome sight, obviously. A lot of people are going to be there. Visitors expected to provide a big boost to the local economy.

- KPIX 5's Andrea Nakano joins us from Sonoma, where fans are already getting revved up. Andrea?

ANDREA NAKANO: Liz this is the first NASCAR race here at Sonoma Raceway in 714 days. This event is not just about what goes on on the road course, but it's also about the impact it has on the community.

JEFF MOTLEY: It's exciting to have the race here. And it's even more exciting that we're going to have fans here to see it.

ANDREA NAKANO: With Sonoma County still being in the orange tier, capacity will be topped off at 33%, which translates to roughly 16,000 people in the stands on race day.

- It's so nice to just get out, and breathe, and socialize, and be in the sunshine.

ANDREA NAKANO: Last year, the Save Mart 350 was moved to Charlotte, taking dollars out of the economy. But tonight, it's like old times at the Carnero's Deli and Gas Station.

HEIDI HUG: It'll be a controlled chaos. [LAUGHS] But we're ready for it. We're so happy they're back.

ANDREA NAKANO: Heidi Hug says business gets a big boost NASCAR weekend. To be ready, she brings in more staff and makes sure the store is well stocked . What are the favorites? What are the things that you load up on?

HEIDI HUG: Well, Coors Light, of course, and monster drinks, the energy drinks. In the morning, it'll be the coffee.

ANDREA NAKANO: The reason why Carnero's Deli sees a huge increase in business is because many of the NASCAR fans enjoy the weekend by camping on site. Jennifer and Doug say most of their money was spent at the market.

- It was groceries, because it's a big-- since we're camping, it's a big cooking, party, have a great time, just sit around, and enjoy everyone's companies.

- Andrea, we all know the region is also known for its wine. Are the wineries in the area expecting to get as much help from racing fans as well?

ANDREA NAKANO: Liz, I talked to two separate wineries, and they say that they really don't see an uptick in business during NASCAR weekend. And they say it's because of the traffic congestion that's created here because of this event that a lot of their locals or repeat customers stay away during this weekend.

- Understandable. All right, Andrea. Thank you.