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!

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.

Daytona is throwing a lot of “firsts” at us for 2021. The Daytona Cup Road Course wraps a month of racing in Daytona, going back to the “Roar” and Rolex for IMSA in January to the Clash, the Duels, the 500 and this, the road course. This year the schedule is Daytona times two for NASCAR points races to start as just one “first”. (Back to back Daytona 500 and Daytona Road Course one week later)

Of course, Daytona hosts the “first” points races for IMSA and for NASCAR.

IMSA-Rolex 24 and Wayne Taylor Racing. Yes, it was a third win for WTR but… 2021 marks the “first” year running an Acura powered DPi (Switched from Cadillac).

Kyle Busch won his second Busch Clash – but his “first” scheduled race with new crew chief Ben Beshore. (Beshore subbed for a few races in 2017)

Alex Bowman grabs the pole in the Daytona 500 – His “first” points start in the #48 replacing retired Jimmie Johnson (*Bowman had the pole in the #88 in 2018).

Michael McDowell makes his mark with his “first” Cup win at the Daytona 500.

Ben Rhodes gets his “first” Daytona win, and his “first” year of 2 wins, and his “first” 2 wins in a row – All at Daytona for the Camping World Trucks to start the 2021 points season.

Ty Gibbs wins his “first” Xfinity start – Xfinity Daytona Road Course.

Christopher Bell won the Daytona Cup Road Course – His “first” Cup series win.

Now… After a month of racing… We leave Daytona. However, the next race is still in Florida – At Homestead Miami. (A “first” for Homestead to immediately follow Daytona…)

The ROLEX 24 at Daytona marks the beginning of the American racing season. Their are 49 official entries across 5 classes. The BMW Endurance Challenge, set for Friday (January 29) features 42 entries. With all of these cars, a world-wide list of manufacturers and a who’s who tag on world class drivers, it is often difficult to follow.

To help, Andy Blackmore Design offers a top notch showcase of the cars and the drivers. The ROLEX 24 / BMW Spotter Guide for IMSA is a must have to follow along. The art is detailed, colorful and informative. The Blackmore Spotter Guides have been a premiere display for quite a while and available online at spotterguides.com.

We can focus on details of Balance Of Performance or which body style favors aerodynamics or if Jimmie Johnson will drive a Cadillac faster than Chase Elliott or how fast AJ Allmendinger can run from the driver door to the broadcast booth… But why…? For many, none of that matters. Watching some good racing and having an idea of what is going on is much more important.

The Spotter Guide helps. All of us are not caught up with every spec and every driver’s family tree. Watching some sexy cars make turns and getting a little drama out of the personalities is just fine with us.

Visit Spotterguides.com to get your PDF copy for the ROLEX 24

Hey Virginia Race Fans!

…and North Carolina, for that matter…

Don’t go anywhere! There is more racing to be had this weekend! Richmond International Raceway put on a good show. Despite rain they held out and ran all 400 laps for the last race to the Chase with the Federated Auto Parts 400.

This weekend, however, Virginia International Raceway hosts the American Le Mans Series! On course as well are the IMSA GT3 Cup, Playboy MX5, USF2000 and the Cooper Prototype Lites series. Sports cars. Fast, sexy and ready to race… (more…)