Why Turn 11 at Sonoma Raceway Is One of My Favorite Places
March 25 Feature Photo: Tough corners where competition is tight always make for the best entertainment.
There are certain corners at certain racetracks that have always been super appealing to me. Not just due to the strategy they require to get through quickly, but for the kind of entertainment they create during races.
March 25, 2021 Car Bibles Feature Photo Details
Car(s): NC Miatas prepped for Spec MX-5
Location: Sonoma Raceway
Photog: Peter Nelson (IG: @16vPete) (Twitter: @16vPete) (Web: CarBibles.com)
Camera: Canon 6D, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Sonoma’s Turn 11 is probably in my top five, joined by Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, Turn 8 at Long Beach, Sweeper at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, and the Andretti Hairpin at Laguna Seca (that’s right, two at Laguna!). This list probably changes up a bit, though.
Turn 11 is special because it’s at the end of a long straight away, as well as a downhill section. No matter the class of cars competing here, Turn 11 is a hell of corner for everyone to set up for. Mostly due to the hard braking it requires, which turns into a matter of “thou who brakes latest, wins.” Or rather, “thou who brakes latest, and keeps it together, wins.”
I’ve seen some epic passes here, on TV and in-person. The passes that people have pulled off are all varieties of the ol’ over and under, meaning they start on the outside of the car they want to pass, and then end up on the inside as they surgically move through the corner.
I’ve also seen cars barrel in with reckless abandon and narrowly escape plowing into their unsuspecting, more careful competitors. I also once saw a couple Trans Am cars almost completely bin it in the rain; I thought I was about to see something truly frightening. This is because there’s a wall right there, staring down those who have the courage to really test the strength of their brakes. But it’s also a big, flat area, so inevitably, seeing people cut and go shallow is pretty entertaining, too.
It’s also truly the best stop on NASCAR’s calendar. There’s nothing like watching a bunch of stock cars on soft-ish suspension and too-narrow tires sliding around through this complex, handling-oriented track.
I’ve actually never driven Sonoma myself, but I sure want to sometime this Spring or Summer. All cars have fun here, including ones that aren’t terribly different than my modest little Mazda2.
Here’s the photo in 1080p!