It was just past 3 a.m. when Will Power was awakened from a deep sleep on the top floor of his hotel in Napa, Calif. The IndyCar points leader was in the middle of his first earthquake and wasn't certain he was going to make it out alive.
The quake, measured at 6.0 in nearby Napa, shook wine country on race day morning and terrified the Australian.
"I looked at (wife) Liz and I said, 'This is it! This is the end of the world!'" Power said Monday by phone. Power said he could smell gas and feared the building was going to collapse as smoke alarms blared.
He went down one floor to search for his mother, who was in the United States celebrating her 70th birthday by attending her first IndyCar race. She'd already evacuated, so Power headed outside.
There he found frightened teammate Helio Castroneves, clad only in a hotel bathrobe, and Team Penske president Tim Cindric, who was calm and plotting their next move.
Power thought for sure Sunday's race at Sonoma Raceway would be canceled.
"Helio and I, we're thinking, we had a near-death experience, there's no way there's going to be a race," he said.
But there was, and Power, who led a race-high 33 laps, wound up 10th after a mid-race spin. Winner Scott Dixon slept through the shaking, oblivious to the earthquake.
Power, the points leader by 51 over Castroneves heading into Saturday's finale at Fontana, Calif., was surprisingly able to laugh about the whole thing Monday.
"Best drive I ever had," he said with a chuckle. "It could have been a lot worse, I guess."