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

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!

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!

Mustang, Mazda, Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Acura… Racing on a track with twists, turns, up and down grades…

You might immediately bring to mind the 12 Hours of Sebring… And you would be right. Throw in Cadillac, Lamborghini, Lexus and Aston-Martin with some exotic prototypes and you could fill the IMSA field at Sebring.

However… On the same weekend in March, a paddock full of enthusiast racers gather for club racing at another track a little further north. The track is also on the IMSA schedule but later in the year. (A little later than originally scheduled because of Le Mans… )

Virginia International Raceway, just along the border with North Carolina, is filled with many of the same manufacturers running with IMSA, even if the model years are a little older. The National Auto Sport Association and the March Madness gathering brings club racers of the Mid Atlantic Region to VIR. The drivers are the owners and they take their track time seriously and push the racing they do with the same dedication as the “pros” do. They may have a day job on Monday that is distant from the racing life but the weekends the club gathers are their holidays.

They tune their own cars, trade performance tips and upgrades and take part in course classes to improve their laps. Once the tests and registration and course instruction is done, they line up on the grid and race. There may not be big payouts or national media and sponsorships but the thrill of door to door racing and a shot at the checkered flag and some trophy thrown together from bits in the back of a garage is enough.

This is grass roots love of speed and the cars that bring it. Virginia International Raceway is host to several clubs and similar events throughout their schedule. Practically anyone can come with a car and race. Granted, there are safety items the car must have and the driver must pass some basic racing classes for rules, etiquette and skill to run with other cars but the door is there to drive through.

You might want to have an understanding spouse or a bit of a cushy bank account. Perhaps both. Racing is not the cheapest weekend but it also is not the most expensive. Plus, different clubs have different classes of participation so there is likely a spot for your budget.

The Twelve Hours Of Sebring is pretty big. However, It’s not big enough to keep these NASA club drivers out of their cars when the green flag waves. Some of them may catch the last few hours of Sebring on TV but it’s more likely it will be on in the background as they recall their own day at the wheel with their fellow drivers.

Virginia International Raceway hosts IMSA in October. Between now and then, there is room for the clubs to have lots of laps on the same pavement. Go racing.

Event / Track images gallery. *Note: For official NASA Mid Atlantic photos for purchase, contact Tae Tyson at Flat Out Images or Tony Politi at Politi Pixels. Images below are reference / editorial only.

They haven’t pulled the caution flag just yet. Racing is getting underway but covid is still lingering and the fog that comes with it is still pulling the strings. Vaccines and masks are a combination that will be with us for a whie…

The changes and cancellations of 2020 are also pulling at the 2021 schedule. This was highlighted with a schedule change for Le Mans. The historic 24 hour race was moved to August from the original June dates. That change put a possible strain on the IMSA racing schedule as Le Mans pulls some of the IMSA drivers over the pond to the European show.

The mid to late season of the IMSA WeatherTech schedule has been altered to allow for these drivers and teams to be open for Le Mans. The Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway and the finale Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta have been moved to October and November.

The VIR event is now set for October 8-10. The Road Atlanta season closer is now to run November 10-13.

Get those phones and computers on task for changing your dates and hotels! Racing is on for 2021 but keep on track for changes as they may come at any time.

Racing has rules… And etiquette. Much of this is communicated to the drivers with flags at safety stations located at key areas around a race course. You’ve seen them… waving different flags as the cars go by. This is not about the flags or what they mean. This is about one of the men who is in charge of those flags.

Bill Tyree is one of those fellows. The gentleman enforcers of the racing etiquette and safety. Bill has been seen by practically every driver of every event at Virginia International Raceway for several years. Granted, it’s in a flash of speed with a glance of the eye. Even under caution with yellow flag in hand, the drivers see the color and concentrate on their job. His job is to keep the yellow visible until the track is safe and the green flag is in hand to go racing again. There is, however, much more to Mr. Tyree than the flags at VIR. As serious as he is about the responsibility and the pride he has in his association with that race track, there is more.

Sunbeam Auto Restorations. A dedicated and going concern which, over time and circumstance, has remained as a loving hobby. The focus is on British roadsters and similar species. The origin was the love of the Sunbeam Alpine and Sunbeam Tiger. The style of which was bred into so many to follow, including the MG roadsters currently taking residence in his garage. One is his own, restored from a less than glamorous example. The other, a friendly client’s golden color 1973 model in for some upgrades on maintenance.

Bill is quite knowledgeable of the British lineage of automobile. It’s an early passion that originated a business, and was also instrumental in the interest at Virginia International Raceway. VIR hosts several events, many of which draw car enthusiasts of all kinds. It was one of these events that drew Bill to the flag stand.

It is the love of the car that keeps it all wide open. It even includes the 1939 Chevy Sedan being given a road ready boost so it can be enjoyed as close to original as possible. It is the same for the British roadster… Enjoy as it is, not compared to fuel injection and driver assist and computers under the hood but as a bit of forward motion engineered for enthusiasm.

The Pontiac…? It’s an anniversary edition Daytona 500 Trans Am that was dropped into his hands and, like all of his projects, brought up to condition with the attention to detail that gave Sunbeam Auto a quality reputation. It’s a daily driver now…

Bill Tyree has many interests. The association with racing at Virginia International Raceway, the enthusiasm of the automobile, the hands on love of classic British style are key ingredients. Sunbeam Auto remains as a hobby to assist fellow enthusiasts. It’s as much a mechanical thing as it is a social thing.

He’s also a gracious host. At a recent, but small and covid aware event at his garage, the discussion ranged from MG upgrades to pre-WWII Chevy water pumps to leaky BMW valve cover gaskets….

I’m afraid I owe him a biscuit for that Bimmer info…

See Bill on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billtyreesSunbeamAutoRestorations/

Visit Virginia International Raceway online: https://virnow.com/

Lot full of British Steel at Bill’s place.

Many of you may recall that Virginia International Raceway underwent a track facelift a couple of years ago. The entire racing surface plus the paddock and other areas were repaved.

All was good… But not so much…

The racing surface developed some issues which were raising concerns over the past couple of seasons. So, with IMSA and the Michelin GT coming back for 2016, the folks at VIR took a major step to insure the racing would be secure and any concerns for the surface would be behind them.

They shut down during one of their busy summer months and paved it again. All of July plus a little more was spent resurfacing the entire course. The job this time has everyone pleased. Michelin and Continental have already done tire testing on the surface in advance of the Michelin GT / Continental weekend scheduled for August 26-28. The 24 Hour Chump Car race just ran with a little speed and long hours. Connie Nyholm, VIR Owner/CEO, said they wanted any and all concerns for the track to be dealt with, shut down for a month or not, before the IMSA/WeatherTech and support races arrived.

Beyond a few stripes and race markings on the new asphalt, they are ready.

Ryan Briscoe, Chip Ganassi/Ford GT, was on hand at VIR to talk about the season so far and the upcoming Michelin GT/WeatherTech race weekend. Briscoe competes in the GTLM class with co-driver Richard Westbrook and currently sit just 10 points off the team lead and 13 points off the driver lead. This season has put the new Ford GT to a test and VIR is set to be “battle on” with Corvette Racing currently on top. Briscoe has previously raced and won for Corvette Racing, just so you know…

Now with Ganassi and in the Ford GT he and the team are pushing forward fast and VIR is set to be one to watch between the Ford and Chevy fans. Briscoe is excited to be racing at VIR, is looking forward to the surface and said whatever challenges and changes which come with a new surface will be the same for everyone. The trick will be finding the best groove before the others and making it all work better.

Ryan Briscoe seems a bit hungry to put those Corvettes behind him…

The Michelin GT/WeatherTech weekend (August 26-28) features the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona series, Continental Tire Grand Sport and Street Tuners, plus Porsche GT3 and Lamborghini Trofeo racing. There are enough practices, qualifying and racing to keep the track hot from early morning to late evening with enough Detroit muscle and international speed candy for everyone! Plus, fans are able to walk about the paddock, be out on the grid before the start and meet the teams and drivers. There will be a lot going on off the track, also, with fan engagement areas, merchandise and gear and special packages for car owners of some of the manufacturers racing the weekend.

Tickets and information – Check out Virginia International Raceway and IMSA/WeatherTech Racing!

On a slightly different note… While Ryan Briscoe was talking about the new Ford GT and racing, Virginia Senator Mark Warner was taking a lap around the track at VIR.

Why…? Well, he was there with some folks from Tesla and checking out the “autopilot” features of a Model S. Warner was taken for a ride more by the car than the folks that brought it. He said he is impressed with the technology and looking forward to growth in the industry. Not just from Tesla, mind you, but the entire automotive industry. He acknowledged the leading role Tesla has and the strides made with the autopilot systems. There is so much innovation and development around safety and efficiency he said growth and moving forward is inevitable. Cars like the Tesla are leading the way, Warner said.

He also took a moment to acknowledge the facility at Virginia International Raceway and the open vision of people like owner Connie Nyholm. He said he is glad it is here in Virginia leading the way for innovative and scenic racing while also creating an environment for development, testing and education.

In other words, if you haven’t been to VIR perhaps you see what all the fuss is about!

Photos: Ryan Briscoe of Chip Ganassi / Ford GT, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Tesla and some VIR Club Drivers on the course!