Sonoma races set to continue as scheduled despite 6.0 earthquake (VIDEO)

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SONOMA, Calif. – No, that evening disruption we got this morning at 3:20 a.m. wasn’t an early wake-up call reminding us to get up ahead of today’s Belgian Grand Prix.

What to me felt like a small tremor, maybe a 3.8 or 4.0 earthquake considering I lived in Orange County, was actually a 6.0 earthquake in Napa (more here from NBC Bay Area). This is the largest reported earthquake in the region in 25 years, since 1989.

However, Sonoma Raceway said in a statement issued this morning all races, the Verizon IndyCar Series, Pirelli World Challenge and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires events, will continue as scheduled.

Here is the statement:

Racing will continue as planned today at Sonoma Raceway for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar® Series event.

The raceway and its facilities experienced no damage from this morning’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake, which was centered in nearby American Canyon. All major systems, including the 12-turn road course, have been inspected by officials, and all emergency responders will be on-site at the facility, as planned. No fans or campers were injured during the quake.

The 85-lap Verizon IndyCar Series event is slated to take the green flag at 1:40 p.m. Race fans are advised to check current reports and road conditions for the best routes to and from the raceway.

It affected a couple IndyCar individuals from Team Penske, with Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric and his son Austin all posting pictures of hotel damage.

Stay tuned to MotorSportsTalk for further updates from Sonoma. The IndyCar race is set for 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski