Virginia Is For Lovers… That’s how it goes… Country Lovers, Mountain Lovers, Scenery Lovers, Car Lovers… It’s all there with a visit to Virginia International Raceway. The “spectator” event season showcases several events but the real “international” comes into play on IMSA WeatherTech weekend.
It helps to know a little about the racing and who is driving what and leading in the points across the series on track but, honestly, it is not necessary. The variety, speed and close up action offers plenty to keep up with. The weekend is as much a celebration of racing as it is a celebration of the track itself. Is it necessary to know that a VIR win could shake things up for most of the series racing? Do you need to know that Corvette Racing is in striking distance of Lexus or that Aston Martin is chasing down BMW…? Who’s leading in the Lambo Trofeo or MX-5…? Does it matter to the fans who have come to see beautiful sports cars race in a beautiful setting…?
It does to some… People always have favorites. On a hot August weekend they all gathered for the cars, the drivers, the colors and the views.
It is possible that nobody is as proud as CEO Connie Nyholm of the unlikely yet impressive racing showplace that is the current incarnation of Virginia International Raceway. She has been with it from the purchase, update and re-introduction to the racing community around the year 2000. It is nothing short of phenomenal that the track, originally opened in 1957 and shut to the public in the 1970s, is now recognized as a jewel in the schedule of premiere racing series such as IMSA, FIA, GTWC, Moto America, NASA and others. Club racing is popular as ever and VIR is a hot challenge for aspiring drivers. It is determination and a little luck that has brought VIR to the status it has.
For IMSA weekend, the schedule falls later in the season. Points are a premium and the challenge of the course is a true test of drivers and teams. Full results on the races and the points can be found at IMSA online: Click for IMSA results and updates.
The fan experience continues to be expanded at VIR. The brand and performance variety on the track also sets the backdrop for a fan base as diversified as the paddock. The exotics of Lamborghini, Aston Martin or McLaren are mixed with Honda, Hyundai, Ford and Chevy. The cars are the stars and the drivers are open and approachable.
The headline race Saturday afternoon featured the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge running the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix. For the finale on Sunday, The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship raced the Michelin GT Challenge. The VP Prototype/Sports Car Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Mazda MX-5 Cup filled both days with racing from morning to the main event green flag.
New options on food and beverage were available this time around taking pressure off of the little paddock diner. The Pagoda Grill is still there but food trucks have been given space to take some of the demand and expand the dining experience. The Oak Tree Tavern is, of course, also available with a touch of class and excellent dining.
The IMSA season still has Indianapolis and Road Atlanta and points are getting tight in the top spots. For VIR, there is more to come also. The SCCA has a week long series late in September and the VIR SpeedTour comes in October. The SpeedTour in particular is another big variety weekend with GT, TransAm, Open Wheel and Classic / Vintage racing. There is also one of the largest rock music festivals in the country on tap.
Virginia International Raceway is a multi-faceted destination. It is often difficult to explain to race fans who have only visited stadium style oval tracks. It is worth a visit to find it all for yourself.
Photo Gallery – Virginia International Raceway – Saturday August 26
Photo Gallery – Virginia International Raceway – Sunday August 27