National racing attention is on the doorstep of Virginia. NASCAR and IMSA are this month (August).
NASCAR is first and just a week away at Richmond Raceway. The “regular season” of NASCAR Cup racing is getting into “last chance” time. Four races remain, including today at Michigan.
For Virginia fans, Richmond is next. The Federated Auto Parts 400 weekend also hosts the Camping World Trucks, which is already into their “playoff” season. The Worldwide Express 250 for Carrier Appreciation is the second race of the Trucks championship run. It is a Saturday and Sunday of action on track with start times set in the afternoon.
Race week at Richmond includes the chance to drive on track for charity benefiting Special Olympics of Virginia. The Pixar movie “CARS” will be shown, a concerts are set with Cody Christian Duo, Cody Johnson and more. Local music, Kids Zones, autograph sessions and midway plaza shows are also filling out fan activities around the track.
Racing will be tight at Richmond. There are some hot drivers still chasing a win to make the Cup playoffs. For the Trucks, the championship is already on the line with this race forward.
A few weeks later another big series comes to race in Virginia. The IMSA-WeatherTech series will take over Southside at Virginia International Raceway. The showcase Michelin Gt Challenge shares the weekend with the Michelin Pilot Challenge, Prototype Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Mazda MX-5 Cup. It is a full schedule of sports car racing!
The weekend also hosts Car Corrals for fans’ parking, a driver-fan discussion forum, music with American Idol performer, Dan Marshall, race day appearance with Miss Virginia and full display area with activities for kids.
Active Military are in for free and Veterans receive 50% off tickets (Government issued ID at gate).
These big series are always a show. However, let’s not forget the weekly racing all over Virginia also putting on great racing and family entertainment. The variety of racing in Virginia is what makes it great for racing Lovers!
We’re stepping quickly into July. Virginia has been hosting big events like SRX at South Boston in June and NHRA at Virginia Motorsports Park in May. The first two legs of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown roll in July, one already at South Boston and the second coming to Langley.
For August, Richmond hosts NASCAR Cup and Virginia International Raceway hosts IMSA WeatherTech. VIR has been busy with events like HyperFest and a good prelude to IMSA, the FANATEC GT World Challenge. Richmond Raceway is busy with non-racing community and culture events. However, when racing is on the calendar, Richmond is all in with the business of speed.
For NASCAR and IMSA, the racing this season has been wide open. The “new” NASCAR Cup car is making itself known to the teams, drivers and fans. The variety and speed of IMSA continues to draw and the racing has been challenging across the divisions.
As we approach August and Virginia racing, it seems the number 9 may be coming in fast…
Race winners are shown across the board for manufacturers with 13 winners and, among those, 5 are repeat winners, including Chase Elliott in the Hendrick #9 Chevrolet. Elliott currently has a points lead and Hendrick Motorsports as a team has logged wins with all four drivers (Elliott, Byron, Larson, Bowman).
For IMSA, the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R has been making big waves in the GTD Pro class. Drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell have multiple wins and the plaid Porsche team are keeping the pressure on.
There is plenty of racing before August 13-14 and NASCAR Cup at Richmond Raceway and August 26-28 and IMSA/WeatherTech at Virginia International Raceway. It will be interesting to follow those Number 9 cars and drivers on their way here.
The chips fell on the side of Tony Stewart this weekend. He wasn’t driving but had his hand in it from Phoenix to Gainesville.
Stewart-Haas driver Chase Briscoe clocked his first Cup win at Phoenix in the Ruoff Mortgage 500. NHRA driver Matt Hagan notched a win at the Gatornationals for Tony Stewart Racing.
For NASCAR, this new car is still presenting itself. Drivers are still finding the limits and pit crews are still rolling with one lug instead of five. However, for Phoenix the Cup race played out with several drivers keeping their performance running well throughout. Race winner Briscoe was top 10 in both stages one and two. Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick were top 10 at the finish and the stages also.
The Xfinity race held similar even though the car is much the same as the previous season. Noah Gragson, Trevor Bayne and Brandon Jones were top five for the stages and the finish with Gragson taking the final win.
This weekend, of course, NASCAR is back at it in Atlanta. NHRA takes a little time before they go 4-wide in Vegas the first of April. What is big this weekend is IMSA getting back at it after the ROLEX 24 back in January. Mobil 1 – Twelve Hours of Sebring is on this week.
Virginia is looking ahead for April and NASCAR at Richmond and Martinsville. This weekend, another track with big NASCAR history gets officially under way. South Boston Speedway is on with their Danville Toyota opener. There is no wait necessary to catch real late model racing action. SoBo always has a show and NASCAR AAPWS National Champion and track Division Champion Peyton Sellers is set to defend the titles.
Racing doesn’t have to wait for the NASCAR Cup circus to come along. Great racing tickets are going to be hitting the weekly series short racks throughout Virginia and the USA with weather going into Spring. Don’t wait – Go Racing!
It’s on! Temperatures are a little chilly for Florida but the racing is set to roll with the sun. Rain is not in the forecast for Daytona and the ROLEX 24 is on the grid with 61 entries over 5 classes. The driver list is deep with talent from across the motorsport spectrum. Once again, to get up to speed on who is driving what and how the colors and numbers play out, get the Official ROLEX 24 Spotter’s Guide from Andy Blackmore Designs!
Racing has already begun with IMSA as the Michelin Pilot Challenge / BMW M Endurance Challenge raced Friday, January 28. Porsche made a big appearance with their 718 Cayman GT4 placing 3 spots in the top 5 including the win with the #28 RS1 team in the Grand Sport class. Turner popped their #95 and #96 M4 machines in the third and fifth slots.
In the Touring class, KMW took the checkers with their #5 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce with spots two and three going to the Bryan Herta Hyundai teams.
Saturday racing will begin with the IMSA Prototype Challenge set for Saturday morning. For watching the ROLEX 24, the options present variety and choice. Flag to flag coverage is available on Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. An active subscription to a cable provider or a nominal fee may be required to watch this way. Broadcast times vary across standard NBC or USA TV.
Yes. Yes it is a bit confusing and just a little frustrating as NBC shut down NBCSN in favor of Peacock and the app pay gates. On the other hand, it is not expensive and their is a large variety of programming outside of IMSA.
Catch what you can as the ROLEX 24 goes green with the IMSA / WeatherTech schedule for 2022!
It’s time. Literally. This weekend the “Roar” is set for testing and practicing for the ROLEX 24 which goes green the following weekend. Next month, the Daytona 500 will start NASCAR with a new car design. With that, NASCAR is not heavily represented with the “Roar” and ROLEX this time around. On the surface, it would seem a good idea as some aspects of the “Next Gen” Cup Car are pulling from the IMSA racing style. As examples, consider the center hub wheels and the refueling system. NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Austin Cindric may be a lonely representative racing a Mercedes in GTD Pro.
IndyCar, however, has a wider set of drivers ready to rolling out with the opening weekends for IMSA. Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR champion and current IndyCar driver, will drive with ALLY / Action Express. Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou will be racing Ganassi Cadillacs with Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson. Meyers Shank Racing team mates Helio Castroneves and Simon Pageanud are running. Alexander Rossi is also in a seat for the ROLEX.
A big thing missing from IMSA for 2022 is NBCSports. NBCSN had been a staple on cable systems for quite some time. Now, in order to watch the bulk of IMSA racing, a pay gate subscription to NBC Peacock TV is required. Note that the late season NASCAR races will be on broadcast NBC or cable USA. The Peacock subscription is only $4.99/month and brings with it a lot of sport and entertainment, including expanded coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics. It is, however, a bit of a kick to add yet another subscription to those most of us already have.
Some fans, based on social media discussions over the “ROAR” weekend, seem to be put out just as the season gets started. Beyond any perceived difficulties in watching the races, the “old ways” discussions are popping once again. What is it about race fans, surrounded by technology every day, that make them complain about change on every level? It has to be obvious that automotive technology has progressed to the point that there is no “going back” to racing like it was even 10 years ago. Computers, engineering and safety as a constant concern with competition have pushed all of motorsport to review everything that happens on race tracks.
This weekend, as the “Roar before” practices and runs some of the qualifying, IMSA has apparently stepped in with some changes. This has folks that are bigger fans of confrontation instead of competition throwing accusations and pointing fingers. It comes down to the “Balance Of Performance” to maintain a level field of competition. Fuel capacity changes along with some performance adjustments have some fans claiming this is an effort on IMSA to give advantages to certain manufacturers or teams.
Let’s be real, here… IF there was an effort to give an advantage to a team (or teams) by the sanctioning body (IMSA) that was so obvious that the average domestic beer consumer could see it then, certainly, the owners and drivers on site and being supplied with these rule changes would see it. The money and logistics involved in racing at this level would not allow BoP changes to make it unsustainable. No team is going to field a car if they can see from the onset there is no competitive chance on race day. Perhaps some race fans watch too much professional wrestling…
Corvette was given a slightly larger air restrictor… BMW has a bit more boost… Ferrari has a little more boost but also a weight increase… Fuel capacities were adjusted…
Obviously… The world is ending…
The ROLEX 24, despite these changes and the beer fueled criticisms, will run the last weekend of January. It is a an event full of variety, speed and color. Sixteen manufacturers, plus the prototype chassis suppliers, are represented with this endurance race to officially open the United States racing season. Check your Peacock status and let’s go racing!
2022 is starting much like 2021. This pandemic thing is still with us and causing all sorts of issues. How those issues play out as the racing season begins to look at green flags is yet to be seen.
However, some of the changes coming to racing within the sport are quite extensive. As January opens, the eyes turn to Daytona and IMSA / WeatherTech. The ROLEX 24 will see some changes in the classes such as GTD Pro instead of GT Le Mans. GT Daytona retains the designation from before. To review the classes and schedule for the upcoming season, check IMSA / WeatherTech online.
Daytona remains in focus, of course, as IMSA rolls out and NASCAR rolls in for the season opener Daytona 500. It is here that 2022 racing will showcase change on a scale unprecedented in NASCAR. The engineering and styling in the move to the 2022 Next Gen car far surpasses the changes that brought in the “Car of Tomorrow” over the familiar late model style. The 2008 CoT brought forth a new focus on driver safety with chassis, seating and cage enhancements. The Gen-6 Cup car that is being retired as of last season brought body shapes closer to manufacturer versions and put other progressions in place such as digital dash panels and more views on safety.
The Next Gen car making its debut in the Cup series is a leap in every way. The styling is meant to further represent manufacturer street versions. The body is now a composite of carbon fiber and plastic instead of sheet metal. Team fabrication shops will be focusing on Xfinity or Camping World series chassis as Cup cars will have a uniform central chassis that is the same for all. The front and rear suspension and drive train are also fairly uniform and bolt on to the common subframe. Independent suspension and rack and pinion steering change up the handling while a 5 speed sequential transmission replaces the 4 speed pattern. Larger brakes mean a step up to larger wheels. 18 inch aluminum wheels with a center axle lug replace the 5 lug steel wheels. This may be the most obvious change to fans as these wheels will look much different than before. The refueling system and wheel changes may resemble the pit stops of the sports cars which just ran a few weeks before at the ROLEX 24. Goodyear Eagles are still the tires on the track but with a wider stance and lower profile than before.
Fans should be excited for the new season and the changes. However, hangers on to the past still haunt the sport. Some just can’t get over the wall with the changes that have come along since the death of Dale Earnhardt. They can’t seem to grasp that time and technology have influenced safety and cost beyond the “good old days” and there is no going back. However, NASCAR can and should do a better job of bringing the personalities of the drivers and teams closer to the fans. Many tracks have embraced the concept with expanded access to garages and infield viewing. The fans follow drivers. The drama is not based on the cars but the interaction of the drivers is what pumps the attention of the fans. The tracks that do well have embraced the national aspect of the sport while inviting the local flavor of the fans in the area.
The local short tracks, the ovals from the hard pack dirt to the paved historic starters of the sport, are also gearing up for some performance changes. The fans may not notice but the teams and the drivers have been busy over the “off season” to make sure their cars are up to the match standards set in place for 2022. There are some body allowance rules and some chassis enhancements that will need attention before the first late model green flag drops for 2022. Hopefully, there has been some “catch up” time for the tires to get stocked for the demand. The late season of 2021 had races cancelled and tracks scrambling for tires just to make events on the basic level.
The costs of NASCAR sanctioned late model style racing has been a hurdle for many and low “car counts” at many tracks has been an issue. Fans want a show and 5 cars on track doesn’t really bring it. New rules are trying to address these cost issues but racing is often a money pit that is hard to fill. Tracks are looking at new events and new types of racing to bring in participants and fans. Drivers, tracks, sponsors and fans are facing some challenges but tracks are committed to push on.
INDYCar is putting off major changes to next year. An expanded hybrid engine system is expected. Formula 1 is putting a number of changes in place for 2022. Much like NASCAR, F1 is putting emphasis on competition and expanded safety. Aerodynamic downforce through wing and body shape design should enhance close racing with better stability. Larger wheels and low profile tires should also enhance handling and reduce heat in race conditions. The front wing and nose have a new design and the rear wing has rounded, rolled tips. F1 changes are targeted, like NASCAR, to engage racing from the driver to the fans.
Other series will likely have some changes. NHRA, for example, is expanding some options for engine performance in some of the classes. Rallycross is looking at some format changes to increase competition. Motorcycle racing from superbike to motocross may also make a change or two for the upcoming season but who can tell…? Those 2 wheel racers are a bit off to begin with…
Expectations are high for many. Short tracks, dirt tracks and other small and local racer venues are looking at their own challenges moving into the year. Drivers and teams are digging for sponsors to carry to the tracks but racing will need attendance to thrive. For 2022, racing fans should take a little time and visit the tracks that run every weekend instead of just holding out for the “Big Guns” in the national series to visit a handful of tracks.
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.