SONOMA (KCBS) – NASCAR drivers and thousands of fans will descend upon Sonoma Raceway for this weekend’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.
But KCBS reporter Jeffrey Schaub got an early start, donning a race helmet for a few laps around the track, with a professional driver behind the wheel of course.READ MORE: Lockdown-Violating Underground Gatherings Investigated Over Recent Spate of San Jose Shootings
17-year-old James Bickford is the cousin of NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, and got behind the wheel of the brand new stock Toyota Camry to take our fearless reporter for a spin.
“The challenging part of this course is the high speeds and the blind corners,” Bickford said. “So right here, we’re going to go into a corner about 120 miles per hour in a Camry. We’re both going into this corner and we’re just assuming where the car is going to end up.”READ MORE: The Game Changer: New Test Helps Doctors Find Hidden Prostate Cancer
And Bickford would know as Sonoma Raceway is his home track. He’s set to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday afternoon. The K&N Pro Series has a long history of serving as a developmental “league” of sorts for up-and-coming drivers from the western United States. Bickford was named Rookie of the Year in K&N West in 2014, when he finished fifth overall in points.
VIDEO: James Bickford Behind The Wheel
Unlike many oval race tracks, Sonoma Raceway has plenty tight corners, which can be challenging for drivers to navigate.
“This is the worst to go off. You’re going at a really high speed and you don’t really know what the car is going to do through [Turn] 10. Then the car kind of dances around,” said Bickford, describing the twists and turns of the road course.
Travelling at speeds up to 120 mph, both Bickford and Jeffrey made it back to pit row, safe and sound.MORE NEWS: Oakley School Board Interim Trustees Vote to Fill Vacant Seats; Reject Special Election
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 takes place this weekend, with the race scheduled to begin at noon on Sunday.