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!

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.

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!

Montoya.

There is no doubt he can drive and go fast. The third checkered flag for Montoya and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is certainly a show of driving force. The 01 Telmex BMW-Riley Daytona Prototype held strong throughout the Grand-Am/ROLEX 24 to take the win.

rlx24_01bmw_inside1It wasn’t just the efforts of Juan Pablo Montoya, behind the wheel for the checkered flag, as the 01 regular drivers Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett along with IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball kept the car on or near the point. The team in the garage kept the car smooth in and out of the pits even as the other Ganassi team suffered through issues that eventually removed the 02 from the field.

There was a strong field to contend with. Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay were challenging from IndyCar. Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray were in the seats from NASCAR. Guest drivers from the hottest series were all their to sit in with Grand-Am regulars to get the American racing season started.

However, it was Ganassi and the 01 team with Montoya in for the final laps to take them to the win… again. (more…)