Sonoma Raceway escapes fire, opens arms to community
Sonoma, Calif.—Sonoma Raceway opened its doors and 50 acres of campground to Northern California fire evacuees in October as flames licked the outer edges of the facility.
“At its peak, we probably had 75 RVs and tent campers in our parking lot and a few folks who went through our temporary evacuation center in the paddock,” said Diana Brennan, vice president, Communications and Marketing, Sonoma Raceway, who added that the raceway partnered with United Site Services to offer basic RV services, including water/sewage service, to campers during their stay.
After taking residents in beginning Oct. 10, the raceway was closing its campground a week later.
“The raceway, itself, was very lucky,” she said. “As soon as we knew what was happening, everybody at the raceway wanted to get involved and help out any way we could — the 50 acres was an obvious answer that could be used quickly on a temporary basis,” Brennan said. “The county looked to us as a place to care for people and give them somewhere to rest and be safe.”
The raceway sustained a few grass fires and damage on the first day that were eventually contained, and it escaped without harm to structures and facilities.
The raceway received numerous donations, from toilet paper and dog food to canned goods and diapers.
“We’re distributing it as quickly as we can and making sure we’re taking care of everyone around us,” Brennan said. “We have endless amounts that have filled four garage bays that we’re sorting through and getting it to the people who need it.
“Overall, everyone’s attitude was uplifting, positive and thankful to have a place to stay and catch their breath while they were waiting to see what would happen with their homes. Folks were supporting each other.
“We were grateful to be a small part of the relief effort and we’ll continue to look for ways to support the community and be a part of getting things back up and running in the county.”