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NASCAR fans could take train to Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in June

Anyone who's attended a race at Sonoma Raceway knows getting to and from the track near Sears Point and Highway 37 is no joy.

But raceway operators are hoping to lure NASCAR enthusiasts to the Save Mart 350 in June with the draw of a no-hassle train ride from the Sacramento area right to the foot of the raceway.

“It's something we've wanted to do for years,” said raceway president and general manager Steve Page. “We've been looking at it for probably 20 years.”

The idea needs final approval from federal, state and at least three transportation agencies that have jurisdiction over parts of the train route.

But Page hopes to have a train chugging from Sacramento to the raceway on June 23, the day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race that draws nearly 100,000 people to the 1,600-acre site each year.

The single train would be dedicated to the NASCAR route and have several compartments, including a dining car. It is hoped that several hundred passengers could use it.

“The idea is, the train would come in, bring fans to the race, they'd go to the race, then get back on the train and go back to where they came from,” he said.

Capital Corridor, an intercity passenger train system that runs commuter trains between the state capital and Silicon Valley, would provide the train.

A Capital Corridor spokeswoman declined to talk about the plan, saying “all the nuances aren't complete.”

“A lot of the operational issues are major issues that need to be ironed out,” said spokeswoman Luna Salaver.

The service would involve several jurisdictions, including the SMART commute rail district, Union Pacific and Northwestern Pacific, which own or have operating rights on parts of the route, from Sacramento to Suisun-Fairfield, then to the American Canyon area in Napa County and on to Sonoma County.

Until 2011 there had been no rail service for a decade on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad tracks in Sonoma County, the result of federal transportation regulators halting traffic because of storm damage on the tracks.

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