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NASCAR Express 2013 to Sonoma Speedway 6/23/2013

by Chris Guenzler

After seeing a post on about the planned running of the NASCAR Express to Sears Point Sonoma Raceway, I thought about attending. I then decided it would give me some new rail mileage as well as allow me to see my first NASCAR race so I went online and bought my ticket for the event. I then reserved two nights at the Vagabond Inn in Sacramento followed by purchasing Amtrak tickets via the San Joaquin Valley to get there. My ticket arrived in the mail two weeks before the race and then I just had to live up to that early Saturday morning to drive to the Santa Ana station where I parked the car before walking over to where the Thruway Bus leaves.

Thruway Bus 5801 6/22/2013

The driver opened the door at 2:59 AM and I took the second seat back for my scenic night ride to Bakersfield. We first went to Fullerton for no passengers then onto Los Angeles. There was no one at Glendale, two at the Flyaway Van Nuys stop and then one more passenger at the Newhall Metrolink station. From there it was a straight shot over Tejon Pass with an early arrival in Bakersfield and I walked down for the picture of my train to Sacramento.

San Joaquin 701 6/22/2013

The second train over is San Joaquin 701. Once the crew spotted the train for boarding, I took a single seat in the "Santa Ana River" and we left Bakersfield passing through the BNSF yard there. Our train had a consist of Engine 13, coaches 8024 "Cosumnes River" and 8009 "Santa Ana River", Cafe 8303 "San Gabriel River" and coach 8029 "Eel River" with cab car 8306 "Mount Soledad".

There was a Canadian visitor in Bakersfield in the form of Canadian National C44-9W 2643 this clear warm summer morning. I went online and enjoyed that along with a Coca-Cola and Prairie City Cinnamon Roll. The train stopped in Wasco, our first fresh air stop then we made our way north, stopping in Corcoran and Hanford to a near empty BNSF Calwa yard where we passed the first southbound BNSF freight of the day before stopping at Fresno.

I was on the new Let's Talk Trains chat room with AC Adam, and for the first time, Winston Walker. We departed Fresno on time and passed another BNSF freight at Figarden siding before crossing the San Joaquin River then ran to Madera where we waited for Amtrak 702 before doing ou station work there. North of there, we passed the first northbound BNSF train of the day, then took the siding at Sharon to run around an eastbound BNSF train stopped on the mainline waiting for us.

I called Let's Talk Trains as we sped along to Merced and took a fresh air break there. We took the siding at Atwater and had a fantastic view of the Castle Air Museum as we waited for Amtrak 712. The train crossed the Merced River and at Ballico, we went into the siding to get around another BNSF freight holding the mainline. We ran to the Turlock-Denair station which was under reconstruction then made our way to Modesto where a group of Red Hat ladies boarded the first car held for them. From there we ran through Riverbank and Escalon to our next stop at the ACE station at Stockton, which was also under construction.

We went through Mormon Yard and around the connection track at Keddie Jct to reach the Stockton Altamont Commuter Express station. A longer platform and soon a new switch will be put in so Amtrak can use the ACE station platform instead of the street. ACE is building a new shop complex to north of the old El Pinal crossing for their train service which will keep them from crossing the BNSF mainline to get to their old shop in the former Western Pacific yard in Stockton. The train made its way to Lodi before we made our final trek to Sacramento.

Views of the Siemens plant in Sacramento. We made our way to Elvas then turned west into our final station stop a few minutes early.

Sacramento 6/22/2013

I took the long walk into the Sacramento station, then through it across to the new signal in front of the station at I Street, over to the Vagabond Inn where I checked in for two nights and received a room on the third floor, a first for me in my many stays here. I walked over to Old Sacramento to see what might be outside today.

Klamath Northern 40-ton 206 built by Baldwin in 1954.

Sacramento Southern SW8 2008 built by General Motors-Electro-Motive Corporation in 1951 as United States Army 2008. It was purchased in 2005 from Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

The new connection to the outside world came about due to the relocation of the Union Pacific mainline through Sacramento. From here I visited the Museum's gift shop before walking back over to the station.

A Capitol Corridor train laying over at Sacramento.

Caltrain F59PHI 2008 with its repowered 710ECO engine.

A Union Pacific freight heads to the Port of Oakland.

Buildings of the old Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops.

A Capitol Corridor train waiting to depart for the Bay Area. I waited for the train bringing in the cars for the NASCAR Special Train tomorrow so I could get its consist then returned to my hotel room, put the pictures in from today and wrote the story so far before going to Perko's next door for dinner. I relaxed the rest of the evening away.


I arose early to be at Perko's when they opened then collected my gear for the trip and walked back over to the station.

NASCAR Special 2013 Amtrak 987 West 6/23/2013

I made the walk and then joined the line to have my bag searched.

Our bags were searched here.

I received my wrist band then after my bag was searched, I walked out to the train and took the west end table in "Pebble Beach". There were 74 passengers to each car so everyone could have plenty of room.

Our train had a consist of engine P42 202, coaches 6461 "Pebble Beach" and 8015 "Salinas Valley", cafe 8812 "Sonoma Valley", coach 8017 "Tuolumne River", cab cars 8311 "Mount Palomar" and 8307 "Mount Baldy", coach "Sacramento River", cafe 8810 "Owens Valley", coach 8013 "Klamath River", coach-baggage 8203 "Bodega Bay" and P42 133.

Coast Starlight Train 11 departed Sacramento for Los Angeles with two private cars on the rear: Southern Pacific 10-6 sleeper "Birch Grove", ex. Cincinnati Railway Company 800736, exx. Chuck Grisler 1995, exxx. Amtrak 2451 "Birch Grove" 1980, exxxx. Amtrak 2696, nee Southern Pacific 9020 built by Budd Company in 1950; and Northern Pacific dome-coach 558 "The Observatory", ex. Amtrak 9406 1983, ex. Amtrak 9485 1971, built by Budd in 1954 and used on the North Coast Limited. It is currently owned by Rail Adventures Incorporated who acquired the car in 1995 and made mechanical upgrades in 1996. The galley, lounge and a master bedroom were completed during 1998 and two deluxe bedrooms and a porter's room were added in 2000.

A few of my rare mileage friends were aboard the NASCAR Express this morning.

We left Sacramento right on time and the NASCAR Express was off and running.

After we crossed the Sacramento River, we crossed the Yolo Shortline at Mikon and would then traverse the Yolo Bypass on the way to Davis for the first passenger stop of the morning.

The NASCAR Express crossed the Yolo Bypass then went into Davis.

After Davis the train crossed Putah Creek before running through Dixon. Trip T-shirts were distributed as we headed south.

Views along the way to Suisun-Fairfield.

At Canon, the connection to the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista.

The train made the last passenger stop of the trip at Suisun-Fairfield where we picked up about twenty-five passengers.

Our group inside "Pebble Beach".

The view to the west as we pulled down to the California Northern switch.

This gentleman threw the switch and soon my new rail mileage would start.

An unidentified wooden box car at Suisun-Fairfield.

We were leaving the Union Pacific mainline behind.

The train curved onto the California Northern Railroad.

The southern leg of the Suisun-Fairfield wye.

We were now on the California Northern Railroad.

View to the southwest.

Our train crossed Ledgewood Creek.

One of the local industries that ships by rail.

The solar mirrors along our route this morning.

Looking to the southwest.

A changing view to the southwest.

View over the engine.

View to the north.

View to the west.

View to the south.

Our train crossed Suisun Creek.

An old barn was passed.

The train went by a small pond before it entered the only tunnel on the California Northern Railroad.

View to the south.

View to the north.

The train went under Interstate 680.

The train went over Interstate 80 and would now climb up and over the hills via American Canyon.

Views from the climb into American Canyon. Now we would descend the west slope of American Canyon.

Views as the train dropped into the very southern end of the Napa Valley.

Our train came to the junction with the California Northern Line to Vallejo at Napa Jct.

Our train next came to the junction with the California Northern Line to Napa at Napa Jct.

Views looking into the Napa Valley.

We were approaching our crossing of the Napa River at the Brazos Drawbridge.

The Napa River.

The train crossed the Napa River at the Brazos Drawbridge.

We created a major stir from these locals as we made our way across the drawbridge.

There is plenty of water here.

Just a few photographers out taking pictures of the first NASCAR Express.

Water, water everywhere as we started our trip towards Schellville.

Click here for Part 2 of this story!