Sears Point Wine Country Classic preview

SONOMA, Calif. (May 8, 2001) - Thirty of the world's premier race cars that once competed for motor racing's holy grail - the FIA Formula One World Championship - will provide the spark at the 15th annual Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge Wine Country Classic...

SONOMA, Calif. (May 8, 2001) - Thirty of the world's premier race cars that once competed for motor racing's holy grail - the FIA Formula One World Championship - will provide the spark at the 15th annual Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge Wine Country Classic Vintage Car Races at Sears Point Raceway, May 18-20.

The Wine Country Classic is a salute to retired racing cars that gives visitors a peek into motor racing's roots, and includes nearly everything from the 1915 Ford Model T to the 1985 Tyrell F1. For many, it is the only time to see a Ford GT-40 roaring through the turns at speed or hear the sound of lightning-quick F1 cars pushing their engines to more than 10,000 rpm's.

The Formula One group reads like a who's who in motorsports history. The Williams FW07/C, for example, gave the constructor's title to the Williams team in 1981, while the 1967 Brabham BT-24 secured the world championship title for Dennis Hume, who was closely followed by Jack Brabham driving an identical car. Names such as Niki Lauda, Jochen Mass, James Hunt, Jacky Ickx and Jackie Stewart are emblazoned on the side as testament to the car's place in history. Even current F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone is represented, having been team chief on the 1973 Brabham BT-42 that finished fourth in the constructor's title that year.

The international field, which is divided into nine groups, includes cars from as far away as Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico and across the United States. Despite arriving in a variety of shapes, sizes and horsepower, many of the names are instantly recognizable, such as Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Ferrari, Cobra and Corvette. Yet not all are commonplace nameplates. For instance, the field includes cars sporting the names of Peyote, Vauxhall, National and Aardvark.

Differing from professional NASCAR racing, the paddock at the Wine Country Classic is completely open. Fans are encouraged to mill about the cars, ask questions and maybe even have the opportunity to sit behind the wheel for pictures. .

"These cars are meant to be driven, and that's the bottom line message behind vintage racing's growing popularity," explains event organizer Steven Earle.

Gates to Sears Point open each day at 7 a.m. and the first group heads onto the track at 8:30 a.m. The last group concludes at 5 p.m. Tickets in advance are $5 on Friday and $20 each on Saturday and Sunday. A weekend ticket is $30. Children 12 and under are free. For tickets and information, contact Sears Point Raceway at 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit www.searspoint.com.

-SPR

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Series Vintage
Drivers Jackie Stewart , Niki Lauda , Jack Brabham , Jochen Mass , Bernie Ecclestone , James Hunt
Teams Williams