Velocity Invitational: Motorsports Heritage On Show & At Speed


The Velocity Invitational is a motorsports and lifestyle event held at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California. It’s primarily dedicated to celebrating speed, history, and the stories of racing in a festival-style atmosphere, where you can see and hear the entered cars both on track and up close.

Kicking off in 2019, the event brings special race cars out of their quiet garages, and invites them race so drivers and enthusiasts can relive the sights, sounds and smells of motorsports’ bygone eras.


For the Velocity Invitational’s fourth annual running last month, McLaren headlined the event on their 60th anniversary. But that’s not all. Ford unveiled their brand new track-biased GT Mk IV, and a Mustang vs. Mini race styled after that of the Goodwood Revival was among a series of other historic race categories that took to Sonoma’s challenging 12-turn road course throughout the weekend.


Velocity attempts to stand out from events of this genre by staging cars in a carefully curated environment, drawing inspiration from European counterparts like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival. The event commits to showcasing not only extraordinary and historically correct racing machines, but also providing an atmosphere of wine, food, sim racing, ride-alongs, art, technology and more. The goal is to introduce a new generation of enthusiasts to a hobby that will hopefully carry forward the love of racing.


On that note, a huge contingent of younger fans flocked to the racetrack over the weekend to meet British-Belgian F1 star Lando Norris.


McLaren’s huge display of historic racers from its heritage collection included many car never before seen in North America. On top of Can-Am and Le Mans cars, the weekend witnessed multiple championship-winning McLaren Formula 1 machines originally piloted by legends like Lewis Hamilton, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen, Alain Prost and Bruce McLaren himself, being exercised close to their upper limits by Norris, Pato O’Ward, Tony Kanaan, Tanner Foust, Stefan Johansson and Zak Brown.


Modern supercars and hypercars from Pagani, Ford and McLaren also graced the occasion, with a remarkable set of four McLaren F1 road cars being present in one place. The trio of Le Mans GT1 race cars from McLaren, Porsche and Mercedes drew much attention, as did the dynamic display of rally machines from DirtFish Rally School. Pre-war race cars were not spared either, and had their own category titled Rag Time Racers.


The 2023 Velocity Invitational ultimately highlighted that the best way to preserve historic racing is to provide an opportunity for drivers, teams and spectators to openly experience and communicate about what makes these vehicles so important. In four years of running, the event has carved itself out to be an essential pilgrimage for North American vintage racing enthusiasts. The enthusiasm displayed by the young crowd in attendance underlined that the future of motorsports and vintage cars is in sound hands.

Vijay Sankar
Instagram: pink_helmet

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