A visit overdue, perhaps. One of the race tracks within an easy distance which has been on the list but not visited has now been crossed off the list.

Natural Bridge Speedway. A dirt track close to the natural formation and park which holds the namesake. Racing has been going on there since the 1950’s. A visit was well overdue and when the track posted a November event, plans were put in motion. Some quick inquiries to the track were made and the visit was set.

The forecast turned from a pleasant Friday to a sunny, but very cool, Saturday. Forecast had evening temperatures in the 30s. OK fine… some gloves and long johns and off we go.

A dirt track is a different animal from the usual for Missed Gear. After this visit there should be more. Not just to NBS but others in Virginia. However, Wythe is 2 hours and Virginia Motor Speedway is even further in the opposite direction. Natural Bridge is around 40 minutes. With that, next season should bring more visits to NBS. If nothing else but to get more acquainted with the cars, styles and drivers of dirt tracks.

The afternoon and evening went off, to be fair, a little rough. A schedule was, apparently, somewhere. Times for practice, qualifying and green flag racing were a little loose for interpretation. However, we did learn that new owners were still working to get the kinks worked out and this race was another chance to roll through an event before the 2022 season.

Like paved ovals, the dirt track ran Late Model, Sportsman, Street Stock, Pure Stock and UCar. Some look the same as the paved track counterparts but the Late Model and Sportsman have very disticntive body styles for sideways power sliding through the turns. Pointed and angled front sections keep the nose down through the turns while the raised and open rear sections allow the cars to get in close in the slides. Overall, it is an exciting form of racing with close quarters and sideways action in every turn.

As of this writing we’re not really sure who won each division. Getting a feel for the action of dirt racing and the layout and flow of the track was a priority on this visit. Knowing the flow of a hot track with infield motion is a necessity for everyone’s safety. For the next visit we’ll be that much more ahead of curve.

For now, a photo gallery of our first visit to Natural Bridge Speedway is below.

It’s always a bit of a blast to go to a car show. The variety in personality of the owners and the cars they bring highlights the styles and individuals in the automotive arena. It’s all about the love of the car… The one you have, the one you drive, or the one you want…

There is no doubt the automotive world is in a state of major change. It’s been there before. Whatever comes of it will be the new basis of alterations and customs. For now, we still have pistons, fat tires, chrome, color, speed and sound. Such was the case on Saturday, October 23rd, at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, VA

Richmond based Spend Trend Society organized the show with RevMatch Clothing and CVA Performance. Funds were raised on site for The Children’s Heart Foundation through entries and a 50/50 raffle.

Interesting vehicles were pulling in for the show as early as 10AM. There were way too many to showcase all of them, however, we did note a few that caught our attention in one way or another.

First – A hot rod Mercedes. Granted, a late 60’s Mercedes is a classic on its own. However, when you drop a Corvette V8 in place of the original diesel power you get a classic that will surely surprise the drag race challenger at the line.

1960’s Mercedes-Benz 200 Diesel with a boost from Corvette V8 power

Second – In a row of turbo-mod imports there was a throwback classic. A big, open engine V8, no fenders, practically square fat rear tires and the rolling shell of a Ford Model T. Yep… a vintage style “T-Bucket”. When asked how many people under the age of 40 asked what it was, owner and builder Phil Harwick simply replied “lots…”.

Technically, it was a gift for his wife but the “T” is always a fun drive to local shows. It’s one of many examples that populates his country garage and his job with MAC Tools lets him network with other “car” people in the area. Phil has some racing history, a builder’s knowledge and an owner’s passion.

Third – A mix of classic hot rod and modern design. The body is based on a 1939 Ford Coupe with modern touches from the interior to the chassis. It’s a candy red head turner. The owner, Troy Cook, is no stranger to style. His Roanoke based business specializes in lighting, furnishings and specialty fabrications with a national reputation.

1939 Ford Coupe – Owner: Troy Cook (Renaissance Contract Lighting)

Check out a larger sample of the Speed Trend Society show below and keep an eye open for more area car shows down the road.

It was a bit of a wait from August. As it happens, Virginia International Raceway in October is actually quite fantastic. It may have been a “one off” as the 2022 schedule has the date for VIR and the IMSA weekend back in the throws of August. For 2021, the date was moved to October as Le Mans (yeah, the French one) was moved and conflicted with some IMSA drivers to drive. To accommodate IMSA involvement with Le mans, the VIR date was shifted.

For next year (2022) the date is back to August. For this one, October brought cooler temperatures across the weekend. Rain, always a possibility, brought a threat and did fall on some practices and qualifying late Friday and early Saturday but did pull back for the racing.

The IMSA WeatherTech Micheln GT put a bit of a boxing match on for GTLM. The Corvettes and the WeatherTech Porsche threw bumpers and fenders at each other as the #79 Porsche pushed to the front. Kevin Estre in the Porsche could not sustain the lead against the recharge of Nick Tandy in the #4 Corvette. The Porsche later lost traction and skidded off to finish behind the Corvettes. The GTD class started with what looked like a run away for the Turner BMW #96. In the closing laps, the #3 GTLM Corvette went a bit loose when getting past the Turner BMW which bumped the #96 off allowing the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche to get on the GTD lead and take the win in the class.

Sunday could have been “Stevan McAleer Day” as he ran in the Prototype Challenge and the Michelin Pilot Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix. McAleer went wide at “Oak Tree” on the final lap in the #43 Robillard Racing Duqueine D08 which opened the path for Rasmus Lindh in the #6 Motel 6 Ligier JS P320. Some side by side down the back straight put McAleer off at and out at turn 14 while Lindh went on for the #6 win. In the Michelin Pilot race, McAleer was in the #23 Notlad Racing / RS1 Aston Martin and racing out front but Jan Heylen managed to get the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche around him for the lead and win.

CLICK HERE for Full Gallery of photos from Saturday October 9 at VIR

CLICK HERE for Full Gallery of photos from Sunday October 10 at VIR

Nobody saw it coming – Not even Landon Pembelton as the crew made the early tire decision to gain position later. Pembleton, a rookie with his first laps at Martinsville Speedway, thought he may have a top 10 but came away with the win in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.

They set the tire change earlier than most which allowed a restart up front at the lap 150 mark following a scheduled full track pit. Race veterans were already having some issues that were keeping their cars from performing at the usual pace. When Pembleton took the lead he mostly took off with it. Other late race cautions gave others a chance at it but they couldn’t pull the #0 of Pembelton off the lead for long. Mike Looney, the 2016 winner, gave it a challenge on the final restart but Pembelton pulled him back for the lead and the win. The 16 year old driver took the checkers with his first run at the historic short track.

For the most part, the race was on for the younger drivers more than seasoned veterans. Daniel Silvestri, a young driver with a CARS Tour win earned the pole from qualifying the night before. Bobby McCarty, a two time CARS Tour champion, was also on the front row. The rest of the drivers had to run the heat races for position on Saturday before the main event.

Veterans like Peyton Sellers and Mike Looney started barely within the top 10. Other long time drivers such as Timothy Peters and Stacy Puryear started mid pack. Philip Morris had terrible luck in his heat race with a tire and crash incident that put him out of the main completely.

For the most part, even with this being the late model return to Martinsville since 2019 and the Covid cancel of 2020, the race was relatively mild for cautions. There were spins and some other contact driving but it seemed to be much less than previous late model contests here.

Sellers was anxious to go for his first ValleyStar 300 win as he was just named the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion. He has won the “Triple Crown” but hasn’t notched the Martinsville Clock. For the 2021 Triple Crown (combined best finishes at South Boston, Langley and Martinsville), it was front row starter Bobby McCarty taking the honor.

The top 10 finishers for the race at Martinsville: 1-Landon Pembelton 2-Mike Looney 3-Layne Riggs 4-Sammy Smith 5-Jared Fryar 6-Bobby McCarty 7-Jacob Borst 8-Justin Johnson 9-Daniel Silvestri 10-Kaden Honeycutt

Next up for Martinsville Speedway is the NASCAR Cup weekend of October 30-31. Camping World, Xfinity and CUP will all be running before the season finale the following week in Phoenix.

Full Photo Gallery Below – 2021 ValleyStar Credit Union 300

The Late Model racing season is coming to a head this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will draw drivers and teams from around the region to compete in what is billed as the largest late model race to run. The “Virginia Triple Crown” will take the points from the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston and the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway and push that into the results at Martinsville.

The race returns after the Covid hiatus of 2020 as tracks on the regular season were down across the region. Returning 2019 winner Josh Berry is expected to race carrying a bit of a streak into the weekend. He also won the NASCAR Xfinity race at Martinsville earlier this year.

Peyton Sellers, recently named National Late Model Champion in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, will also be chasing his first win in the “300”. He has run it many times and has been a repeat “Triple Crown” winner but has not been able to take the checkers on the final lap.

Timothy Peters is another name which is no stranger in winner’s circles. His connection to Martinsville and Southside Virginia racing has put him in the spotlight with NASCAR national series races and is another local favorite that could repeat a win at the VSCU 300.

Bobby McCarty and Ty Gibbs will also be drivers to watch. McCarty has the Thunder Road win and Ty Gibbs is expected to show with experience in ARCA and Xfinity.

Motor Mile Speedway just ran their Champions weekend and drivers Kres VanDyke and Ryan Wilson should be on hand to showcase their skills under the big lights. Other tracks from all around the region should also be represented by fan favorites taking their shot at Martinsille.

Previously, there have been full days of practice at Martinsville a week or so before race weekend. This year the format has been compacted into Friday and Saturday. Friday , the 24th, there will be a 4 hour open practice session before qualifying at 8:00pm Friday night. The top two qualifiers will make the 200 lap main event on Saturday night. The rest will race it out in four 25 lap heat races to make the main. The heat races begin at 3:00pm Saturday with gates open at 12:30pm and track walks / autograph session on track until 2:30pm.

The NASCAR Playoffs are set for Martinsville with Camping World, Xfinity and NASCAR Cup all racing October 30-31st. However, all eyes are on the Late Models under the lights coming up this weekend (September 24-25) for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.

Racing Through The Summer with the Southern Virginia Motorsports Council has already run through two profile events. South Boston Speedway and Virginia Motorsports Park were part of the three event ticket with late model and drag strip racing earlier this Summer. The third event at Virginia International Raceway is coming up this weekend, September 23-26.

Formerly known as the Heacock Classic, the weekend combines the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association with Trans-Am, F3 and FR open wheel racing plus a classic and exotic motor show. The schedule is quite full of track and off-track activities for a variety of fans and enthusiasts.

A dozen SVRA groups will be taking to the track with vintage racing and sportscars across a wide range of styles and classes. The open wheel Formula 4 United States Championship and the Formula Regional Americas Championship offers fast racing with the Andy Scriven Memorial Race weekend. The F4 and FR series offer racing for developing drivers in an international format.

Trans-Am racing features spec built racers, familiar sports car chassis and American muscle cars in classes of racing that has evolved from classic sports car racing going back to the 1960s.

All of this track action surrounds a “Cars & Caffeine” car show sponsored by Hagerty Insurance on Saturday.

This event leads into even more highlight events in October at VIR. Grassroots Motorsports HyperFEST is the following weekend of October 1-3 with the re-scheduled IMSA WeatherTech series events coming up October 8-10.

More events coming to Virginia International Raceway

This weekend with the VIR Speed Tour combines so many styles of racing and classes of cars that it will showcase all the best the track has to offer. It is a great event to close out the “Racing Through The Summer” ticket.

We’re less than one month away from WeatherTech/IMSA at Virginia International Raceway. The original schedule for the race in August was shuffled to allow drivers and teams to participate at LeMans for the big 24 hour race. So… With October just on the horizon, it would be good to get up to speed on who is running and who is winning. The Daytona Prototypes and LeMans Prototype 2 will not run at VIR, leaving the GT LeMans and GT Daytona classes to race without having to keep eyes out for the larger cars.

However, with racing still to go, it should be noted the top 3 teams in DPi are all within one race in points to be on top. The top 3 in LMP2 are racing practically the same. One race can easily blow the points up and change the game for any of these teams. We won’t see these at VIR but it’s good to catch up.

For GTLM, it’s pretty much a race of Porsche against the Corvettes. The WeatherTech Porsche team got a much needed win at Road America. It was their 2nd win of the season but the Corvettes grabbed it again at Laguna Seca. The Corvettes have notched 5 wins so far.

The GTD class has more diversity but the the top 4 are also running close and within 100 points. The Turner BMW team is currently leading but the PFAFF Porsche team grabbed 2 recent wins and is moving up with Heart of Racing / Aston Martin team has recently fallen back to 3rd overall. Paul Miller Racing and their Lambo is still in the hunt at 4th in points.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge classes of Grand Sport and Touring combine a much larger field of manufacturers and teams. The Turner BMWs are out in front of the GS group with the Winward AMG and Wright Porsche following and within points. The Touring class has the Hyundai / Bryan Herta Autosport #77 on top with another Herta Hyundai chasing up. The KMW/TMR Alpha Romeo team and the Atlanta Speedwerks Honda are chasing up.

VIR will also host the Prototype Challenge featuring the LeMans P3 classes. Muehlner Motorsports #21 is leading the field with #54 MLT Motorsports on the bumper 10 points behind. Conquest Racing #61 is leading in the P3-2 class.

Porsche Carrera Cup North America will also be running events at Virginia International Raceway. All the drivers will be competing in identical spec 911 GT3 Cup Cars so the track will be putting driver skill on the line.

October 8-10 offers up a full weekend of racing and sportsmanship with variety and speed on the full course at Virginia International Raceway. Check IMSA online and VIR online for schedules and tickets!