SBJ/December 10-16, 2012/Facilities

Sonoma name wins out at track

The name Sonoma Raceway is here to stay.

Track President Steve Page last month officially changed the speedway’s name to Sonoma, opting to name the track after the Northern California area where it’s based rather than revert to the Sears Point name it went by for 34 years.

“I probably changed my mind three different times,” Page said. “There’s a legacy to the Sears Point name that a lot of motorsports traditionalists associate with this place. Ultimately, we decided the Sonoma name is a good tie with the thematic elements we try to build into this raceway. Sonoma is something people can grab onto easily.”

Page said the decision became official when the track ordered business cards two weeks ago.

The track continues to look for a title sponsor. Page said that they are having discussions with companies. Tom Cordova, who sold the Infineon naming-rights deal in 2002, is assisting with the sale.

Sears Point, which is the name of the peninsula where the track is located, was the name of the raceway from 1967 to 2001. It became Infineon Raceway in 2002 after the technology company signed a 10-year, $35 million naming-rights deal. When Infineon opted not to renew that deal last May, the track renamed itself Sonoma Raceway for its NASCAR weekend in June. Track executives planned to rename it Sears Point later this year if it failed to find another naming-rights sponsor.

“But a funny thing happened when we drove into work,” Page said. “We saw the name Sonoma on the door and realized what a terrific name it is. It occurred to us if we went through a rebranding and shone a big spotlight on Sears Point that it would be difficult rebranding if we went through another naming-rights deal.”

Page said that part of the reason the track is sticking with the Sonoma name is because of the cachet it carries in corporate circles. The name is linked to California’s most fertile wine region, and that has made the track a major hospitality market for NASCAR, IndyCar and the NHRA.

“One of our assets is our location,” Page said. “That’s something we’ve always embraced and tried to take full advantage of. Wrapping the mantle of that around us in a big way for us is a very positive thing.”

The logo for the new raceway was developed by Sonoma’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc.
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