Indy Car race: 6.1 magnitude quake and fire in Napa causes major damage but race still on

by Jerry Feitelberg

NAPA–The greater Napa Valley was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake at 3:20 AM on Sunday morning in this town which is the trainning camp home to the Oakland Raiders and to Indy Car’s Sonoma’s raceway. The Raiders who are done with the property for the year and are entering their fourth pre season game. But for the tens of thousands of fans, media, and raceway officials one of the Napa Valley’s biggest events the Sonoma Raceway which started on Friday and ends Sunday will continue despite damage in the local town.

The raceway which is located in the southeast part of Sonoma County did not suffer any structural damage according to Indy Car officials who checked the building and stands as tens of thousands will pour into the raceway for the 1:45pm start. Officials did state that the surrounding roadways getting to the raceway could be effected.

The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma is one of the biggest draws of the year for the Napa Valley which brings in more people than a Super Bowl game. Possible significant damage to roadways are still be being inspected by Caltrans sesmic engineers. According to CBS 5 TV on Sunday morning parts of Highway 37 will be effected by the quake and some parts of the freeway will be inspected and that traffic delays during the inspection could be expected.

Downtown Napa where most of the race car drivers are staying is located ten miles north of the epicenter American Canyon and downtown Napa suffered significant damage and particpant race car drivers for Sunday’s Indy race no doubt felt every bit of the 6.1 trembler, “mirrors breaking in the bathroom, you hear the alarms, pipes (breaking) and not a single picture moved” Verizon Indycar series driver Helio Castroneves told USA Today, Castroneves who is from Brazil “I want the guy who put the nails in (the hotel) to come to my house” said Castroneves who currently lives in Fort Lauderdale never feels earthquakes there.

The hotel where Castroneves was staying was evacuated and he later met with Team Penske teammate Will Power and company president Tim Cindric. Not a very likely meeting between the three at that time of the hour but under the circumstances necessary. Once outside on the sidewalk Castroneves could see significant damage, bricks, glass and debris, “Will thought it was the end of the world, I thought it was a plane crash, it was a rumbling noise, and it completely trashed the bathroom. It was like a movie and I was in it. A very scary moment and I’m still shaking” said Castroneves.

Part of the older buildings in downtown have damage where some of the roofs either fell over or collapse inside. There was no reports of anyone killed but mulitple injuries were reported. According to Indy’s car president of competition and operations Derrick Walker he said that he felt the race could continue, “we don’t feel under the circumstances as they stand now that the race is in jeopardy, we’re obviously keeping a watchful eye on what happens. If other events happen we’ll respond to them.” said Walker

Jerry Feitelberg is a Sports talk show host for

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