Take away two wheels. Add a bit of leather. Throw in a touch of insanity. Keep the speed.
What you have now is Moto America motorcycle racing. One of their weekend rounds made its way around the turns of Virginia International Raceway. It’s mid May and Virginia is opening up for spectator events. Outdoor events like motor racing are prime examples of open area seating which still allows the opportunity for distancing and masks if going inside. With other Virginia short auto tracks already holding events, this was a first for open fans and the 2021 spectator season at VIR.
Three things to take away from the Moto America weekend. First of all, motorcycle road course racing is a fantastic watch. It is fast and colorful and full of variety. The classes of bikes range from high pitched screamers to rumbling power pushers. Watching these riders throw those bikes into the turns at speed seems to defy the laws of physics. Even if you haven’t ridden a motorcycle, chances are you’ve had something on a string and wound it in a circle. You know that the thing wants to fly off. You see a tiny patch of rubber holding all that force at severe angles and just get sucked into the magic that holds it on the road. These riders throw the weight from turn to turn with only hands and body keeping it in control. Motorcycle racing is on the edge from green to checkers. When that edge gets crossed it’s time to let go and take a tumble. Racing is dangerous and riders do go down. It is amazing to see them walk away from a tumble like this!
For this weekend, they raced the “North Course” which makes a right turn up the hill just after the cross over bridge. This makes a 2-1/4 mile course which the racers covered in less than 90 seconds. This makes an average speed over the distance at greater than 90 mph. The straights and mainlining through the “esses” were much faster! A BIG “Thank You” to Moto America and VIR for having us!
The second is the fan experience at VIR. For viewing a motorsport event, there is a lot to take in at this track. Compared to a traditional race track, for NASCAR or Late Models as an example, there are bleachers or seating around the track. You are pretty much watching from where you sit from start to finish. At VIR, the fans are free to roam most of the course. There are only two sections that have fencing beyond standing height. 90% of the course offers the fans a view without a fence in front of the sight line. For fans with cameras, VIR is a great place for getting photos of the action. You may see vested photographers inside the gates but there are plenty of angles along the fencing for fans to get great photos. (Many of the photos in our gallery were shot on the “fan side” of the fence.)
The paddock area is also open for fans to walk through to see the bikes (or cars) being worked on and see the riders (or drivers) just hanging about. VIR offers access and race action viewing from practically every angle.
And, the third… Virginia International Raceway has been praised by everyone from Carroll Shelby to Paul Newman to the hosts of the original BBC “Top Gear”… It is a beautiful, tree lined bit of racetrack that has everything for racers and fans… Except (and someone has to say it) a proper outlet for basic food. Granted, the Oak Tree Tavern offers a marvelous dining experience, however, it is not located for direct fan access during events. The paddock area dining is severely limited by size, scope and speed for the numbers of fans that can be there. On Saturday, during Moto America, with lines 30 deep they were ready to stop service shortly after 2pm. To be fair, it is our understanding that the Pagoda dining area is farmed out to a third party service and has operating hours to 2pm. They are slow, ill prepared for the volume and a bit pricey for what they offer.
Our advice, for what it’s worth… Get on the phone and find some good reputation food truck services with a variety of flavors and get them parked around the fan areas of the track. Make the fans happy with some food offerings without giant lines so they can watch the races they came to see. Take a percentage or whatever those deals are. Get happy fans and make some money. To quote Jeremy Clarkson of “Top Gear”… “How hard can it be?”
For fans… Virginia International Raceway is a race experience all its own in Virginia. The variety of events and views is like nothing else in the State. Plan ahead, however, and pack some sandwiches, or some pre-cooked hot dogs, or stop and get a pizza to go… Put your beverages in a cooler and enjoy the day of racing without the food lines.
Moto America was a great “Welcome Back” event for fans at VIR. Motorcycle racing is a different animal than racing with a full set of four wheels. It is fast and fun to watch. The season does not currently have any more motorcycle events but schedules change. For now, the next event is GT World Challenge. This event will offer world class sports car racing with exotic race cars from manufacturers such as Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedes, BMW, McLaren, Aston Martin and more…
Check the full fan schedule HERE and enjoy our gallery from Moto America at VIR!