Virginia International Raceway had some tangles in 2011. The AMA “Suzuki White Lightning” event was pulled from the August date basically from a lack of communication, contract verbiage and an issue with promotions. Fingers pointed both ways. The end picture is that a big weekend at VIR was out.
Follow that with the announcement from the Grand-Am ROLEX Series that VIR would not be on the schedule for 2012. New Jersey gets an earlier date and Belle Isle Park in Detroit is added to the mix. The Grand-Am race has been a showcase nationwide coverage event for VIR for several years.
Two big events that went a long way to re-establish Virginia International Raceway as a destination for fans and racing were out of the picture as 2011 came to a close.
This would seem to put a kink in the potential for 2012. Hit the brakes and stop the presses, so to speak. However, the folks at VIR have some surprises in store that may have blown by while you were watching the last turn…
If you were mourning the exit of the sleek Daytona Prototypes and GT sports coupes of the Grand-Am ROLEX Series you can lift your heads and check out the American Le Mans Series. For the casual observer that simply likes to watch exotics go fast there may not be much difference beyond the sponsors and colors on the cars. DP and P1 cars do look similar with low and aerodynamic body shells, an average of 500 horsepower and speeds approaching 200 mph.
AMLS also runs a slightly smaller exotic as the P2 with 450+ horsepower and multiple manufacturers represented. Throw in the Prototype Challenge designs and you have yet a 3rd class of specialty built, low slung cars to follow.
Are you perking up yet? Three divisions of exotics in the American Le Mans Series and we haven’t even touched on the GT classes… There should be plenty of exotic color and speed making for the inside line around the Oak Tree!
The GT and GT Challenge are also in league with their Grand-Am counterparts. The Porsche 911 GTR and BMW M3 are in the mix, of course. The Corvette C6.R comes along as well. As does Ferrari with the F458… Throw in the Aston Martin Vantage and some Lotus badges and you round it out. The GT Challenge is exclusively Porsche.
The Grand-Am Series puts on a good show with two classes. (OK, we’ll give them four with the Continental Tire GS and ST Series thrown in…) Should we expect less from five classes of sports car and prototype racing with American Le Mans…?
We contacted Kerrigan Smith at VIR about what to expect for the AMLS weekend. He has been involved directly with both Grand-Am and AMLS and believes race fans are in for a great show. He also mentioned the Playboy Mazda MX-5, the USF2000 open wheel, and IMSA racing on tap to fill out several full days of speed.
All said and done, Virginia International Raceway is looking at a fine weekend of exciting racing with plenty of exotic eye candy. The AMLS Grid Girls are a bonus, too!
VIR also keeps up with motorcycle racing in 2012. The AMA may not be racing 2 by 2 but the CCS is on for two separate events as is the WERA weekend.
NASCAR is set once again for some road course testing. This is an interesting thing to watch as teams bring their cars and drivers in to see how well they can set up for (gasp) right-handed turns. Oh… The Horror!
The North American Road Racing Association is on the schedule with a weekend of developmental and SCCA racing. The Formula 1000 Series feature open wheel racing as seen in IndyCar and F1. The cars are smaller and not as powerful yet still turn speeds around 150 mph with similar handling characteristics to their larger brethren. The Dodge Viper SRT is on. The NARRA US GT Championship is on. The Whelen US Time Trial is on. It should be another fun weekend at VIR.
Other staples of automotive action remain on tap to close out the season. The Heacock Gold Cup Classic which features classic racers and show cars all weekend is simply a car buff’s dream. The NASA Oktoberfest is on. The 13 hour SCCA Charge of the Light Brigade is on… and on… and on…
And if you can muster the car and some safety requirements, you could even get in on the action with two different “Chump Car” events! Throw a roll cage in a less than $500 car and you are racing! Really! OK… There is a little more to it than that… But not much. Even if you can’t find a way inside the driver’s seat it is still a fun watch as folks that may be barely able to navigate a traffic merge try their hand at racing… side by side… Don’t worry. $500 cars are not that fast and VIR has plenty of sturdy fencing and rails.
Virginia International Raceway has set up a really good schedule for racing fans. There will be sleek, classic and fast cars, two wheel speed on motorcycle weekends, a visit from NASCAR and some chumps making laps.
There is no time to worry about what may be missing in 2012 at VIR when so much is coming! Click Here to visit VIR Online!
*BTW… If you want to get a “heads up” on the American Le Mans Series, the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is coming up this month. ABC will have it on Sunday, March 18th. ESPN2 will carry most of the races, including the one at VIR. ABC will showcase the others. Click Here to check out all the details on ALMS online.
Don’t worry, you won’t need to know French…