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Helio Castroneves, left, and teammate Will Power were among IndyCar drivers who felt the effects of an earthquake near Sonoma Raceway. / Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

SONOMA, Calif. -- During the 6.0 earthquake that rattled the Napa Valley early Sunday morning, Helio Castroneves became fixated on pictures hanging on his hotel room wall.

"Mirrors breaking in the bathroom, you hear the alarms, pipes (breaking) and not a single picture moved," the Verizon IndyCar Series driver told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, where the season's penultimate race still is scheduled to be run.

"I want the guy who put those nails in to come to my house."

Castroneves lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where earthquakes like the one that rocked the Napa Valley on Sunday morning don't occur.

Castroneves was asleep in a downtown Napa hotel, about 10 miles north of the earthquake's epicenter. The earthquake, whose epicenter was in American Canyon, about 15 miles east of Sonoma Raceway, is the area's most significant in 25 years.

Castroneves' room started shaking about 3:20 a.m. local time. Disoriented, the Brazilian didn't initially know what was happening since his only earthquake experience occurred years ago in Japan, but that was little more than a tremor.

This time, ground movement forced a hotel evacuation. It was outside where the scope of the situation came to light. Castroneves shared the story exchange he had with Team Penske teammate Will Power and company president Tim Cindric.

"Will thought it was the end of the world, I thought it was a plane crash," Castroneves said. "It was this rumbling noise, and it completely trashed the bathroom. It was like a movie, and I was in it.

"A very scary moment. I'm still shaking."

Cindric posted photographs on Twitter of hotel damage with debris scattered.

"Not fun," he wrote.

Graham Rahal tweeted that he and girlfriend Courtney Force, who drives on the NHRA's Funny Car circuit, were ok. "Well that was fun! Luckily @courtneyforce and I were able to pass back out, but the building was easily moving back n forth several feet."

Track officials said the 12-turn, 2.385-mile circuit was not damaged and the IndyCar Series race will take place at 1:40 p.m. PT as scheduled (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

Sonoma Raceway president Steve Page said the decision to continue with the race was made after surveying the facilities and learning that all local roads were open. He said the track's emergency services are in place, and people are arriving at the facility.

"Welcome to California," said Page, who lives in Sonoma. "I thought I was going to get thrown from my bed."

Derrick Walker, IndyCar's president of competition and operations, said the drivers were told of a contingency plan at a morning meeting.

"If something happens during the race, where do you go, how do you communicate," he said.

Walker said nothing showed IndyCar that the race shouldn't continue.

"We don't feel under the circumstances as they stand now that the race is in jeopardy," he said. "We're obviously keeping a watchful eye on what happens. If other events happen, we'll respond to them.

"We're trying to be pro-active and obviously very sensitive (to) the fact it's a real, live drama going on here in the surrounding area."

Sonoma Raceway was also quick to release a statement Sunday morning, indicating the permanent road course and its facilities weren't damaged.

The statement read:

"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."

IndyCar tweeted at 11:23 a.m. ET that the race would go on. "Good morning @RaceSonoma! The facility experienced no damage from the earthquake early this morning. All events will continue as planned."

KV Racing Technology officials fear that the winery co-owned by Jimmy Vasser, which is based near the epicenter, has suffered damage.

Cavin writes for The Indianapolis Star



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Helio Castroneves calls earthquake 'very scary moment'

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