John Cardinale, who served as Vice President of Media and Community Relations for Sonoma (Sears Point) Raceway has passed away at home with his family after a two-year battle with gastric cancer. He was 47 years old and is survived by his wife, Andrea, and their two daughters.
For those who would like to make a donation in John’s honor, a memorial fund has been set up on behalf of his family. Donations may be sent to the John Cardinale Memorial Fund, care of Sonoma Raceway, 29355 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476.
Sonoma Raceway will share information on services and other arrangements as they become available.
“There is a hole in the heart of this organization,” said Steve Page, president & general manager of Sonoma Raceway. “John Cardinale was as true a friend, as loyal a colleague, as devoted a husband and father and as fine a human being as you could ever hope to know.
“John has been a part of every good thing that has happened at this track over the last 15 years. We are all so fortunate to have had him in our lives and to have shared in his intelligence, his wit, his integrity and his brave spirit.”
Cardinale was a former newspaper reporter who covered races at Sonoma Raceway before joining the staff as public relations manager in 1998.
During his tenure at the raceway, Cardinale worked successfully to expand news coverage of motor racing in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also helped develop an Emmy-nominated NASCAR Winston Cup Preview Show on the local FOX Sports Net affiliate.
On the community front, Cardinale implemented a number of innovative programs aimed at youth driving safety, drunken driving prevention, blood drives, food drives, and local efforts to aid low-income families around the holidays. With his responsibilities, Cardinale oversaw fund-raising and grant distribution for the raceway’s chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
“John was truly one of the best PR/media men in the business,” said Cycle News contributor Larry Lawrence, who worked closely with Cardinale when Lawrence was AMA Pro Racing’s media manager. “We had a very tough time getting media attention in San Francisco for the AMA Superbike event at Sears Point, and when John came along it seemed like all those barriers just fell away.
“I don’t think I ever worked with someone with such attention to detail and who treated motorcycle racing as it was just as important as any other event his track hosted. He was a also great innovator in the area of pre-race promotions. John was an example of how that job should be done and on top of all that he was just a super-nice guy and a pleasure to be around.”