Virginia International Raceway

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Virginia International Raceway
Virginia International Raceway - Grand West Course.svg
Grand West Course track map
Location Alton, Virginia, USA
Coordinates 36°33′42″N 79°12′17″W / 36.56167°N 79.20472°W / 36.56167; -79.20472Coordinates: 36°33′42″N 79°12′17″W / 36.56167°N 79.20472°W / 36.56167; -79.20472
Opened August 3, 1957
Architect Sports Car Enterprises, Inc.
Major events United SportsCar Championship
Full Course
Surface Asphalt
Length 3.27 mi (5.26 km)
Turns 17
Lap record 1:35.434 (Germany Klaus Graf, Muscle Milk Motorsports HPD ARX-03a, 2012, P1)
Grand West Course
Length 4.10 mi (6.60 km)
Turns 28
Lap record 2:45.63[1][2] (United States Jim Mero (Chevrolet), Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, 2012)
Grand East Course
Length 4.20 mi (6.76 km)
Turns 25
North Course
Length 2.25 mi (3.62 km)
Turns 17
South Course
Length 1.65 mi (2.66 km)
Turns 12
Patriot Course
Length 1.10 mi (1.77 km)
Turns 12

Virginia International Raceway (commonly known as "VIR") is a road course located in the community of Alton, near Danville, Virginia. It is less than a half-mile from the North Carolina/Virginia border just outside Milton, North Carolina on the banks of the Dan River. VIR hosts amateur and professional automobile and motorcycle events, driving schools, club days, and private test rentals.

Track description[edit]

VIR offers six track configurations, of which 2 can be run simultaneously. The "Full Course" is 3.27 miles in length while the "Patriot Course" stretches for 1.1 miles entirely inside the Full Course. The "North Course" is 2.25 miles long and the "South Course" covers a distance of 1.65 miles. Both consist of a portion of the "Full Course" and short connecting sections that connect to portions of the "Patriot Course" to produce the two courses that can run simultaneously. There is a second pit complex that is used only when running the "South Course". The longest configuration, "Grand East Course", is 4.2 miles long, and combines most of the "Full Course" and most of the "Patriot Course" by means of two of the short sections of connecting track used to make the "South Course" and "North Course". There is also another, seldom run, long configuration called the "Grand West Course" that uses the other two short connecting sections between the "Full Course" and the "Patriot Course." Since the Patriot course is contained completely inside the Full course, both can be run simultaneously.

The "Full" course is the most common configuration and hosts most events throughout a season. One of the most notable sections of the course, second only to the Oak Tree (T11), are the "Climbing Esses" which consist of an initial left up-hill (T7), followed by a right which crests at the apex then dropping slightly into a left (T8) which again crests at the apex dropping slightly, and then up into a final left (T9). The complexity and difficulty of this section is multiplied by the incredible entry speed because of a straight section leading into the Climbing Esses. Most drivers agree that this section of track is among the most intimidating sections of track in North America. Another signature section is the "Roller Coaster" (T14) which is a scaled-down mirror image to the famed "Corkscrew" at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

There are 2 main straights on the track. The front straight is approximately 3000 ft long while the back straight is approximately 4000 ft long. While the back straight is 33% longer, the front straight is where higher speeds are reached since "Hog Pen" (T17) leads onto it and is a much faster corner than the Oak Tree (T11) which leads onto the longer back straight. There is 130 ft of elevation change throughout the course.

Some of the raceway's named curves include "Oak Tree", "Roller Coaster", "Hog Pen", "Horse Shoe", "NASCAR Bend" (because NASCAR drivers Richard Petty, David Pearson and Wendell Scott had difficulties there during a 1966 Trans Am race), "Snake", "Spiral", "Fish Hook", and "The Bitch".

Configurations[edit]

Celebrities at VIR[edit]

Virginia International Raceway is not only famous for its racers but also special celebrities. Back in 2010, a special episode of the hit British car show, Top Gear was filmed at the raceway and aired later that year as a part of season 16.

Country music superstar, Reba Mcentire visited the raceway in 2012 as her son took part in the race.[3]

In early October of 2013 actor Patrick Dempsey, most recognized for his role in Grey's Anatomy, and a former athlete and a reality-TV star, Bruce Jenner, visited the raceway.[4]

History[edit]

Pit road during 2008 Grand-Am race

The track originally opened in 1957 and had been closed from 1974 prior to its reopening in March 2000.[5] The track was reopened in 2000 by New Yorker Harvey Siegel using a "country club" model. Memberships to the track are sold. Each member of the VIR Club receives track time on member day, tickets to all spectator events, and other benefits. VIR's membership model has since been followed by other racetracks across the United States.

There have been at least four deaths in track history, with three fatalities coming since the reopening of the facility. The most recent death was that of 14-year-old Toriano Wilson in a US Rookie Cup motorcycle race in August 2008.[6]

The track hosted the SCCA National Sports Car Championship from its opening in 1957 until the series' demise in 1964. The IMSA GT Championship visited VIR in 1971 and 1972. After its re-opening, the AMA Superbike Championship held races at VIR from 2001 until 2010 on the North Course. The Rolex Sports Car Series utilized the Full Course from 2002 through 2011. The American Le Mans Series used the Full Course configuration for its inaugural event in September 2012 where a new track record was set by Klaus Graf driving the Muscle Milk LMP1 car.[7]

The track hosts many events throughout the year including the annual Gold Cup Historic Race as well as AMA races, ChumpCar, SCCA, NASCAR test days, and local car clubs. Various driving training classes are available on the paved and unpaved (off-road) courses. The site also hosts a go kart track.

On August 23, 2014 VIR will host the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which is the result of ALMS and Rolex Sports Car Series merging together.

Testing[edit]

The track is frequently used for test sessions by NASCAR teams. The teams use the road course to test their road course cars for the Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway races. Since the track is not currently active on the NASCAR circuit, a practice session is not charged against their allotment.

The track is also used by various manufacturers in testing of new or updated vehicles.

Video games[edit]

VIR's North Course is featured in the video games Supercar Challenge and Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. All six configurations are featured in iRacing.

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://fastestlaps.com/tracks/virginia_international_raceway.html Fastestlaps.com Database
  2. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLVDXz-jXMw YouTube video showing lap
  3. ^ "Blackstock, Buford Join Roush Performance for 2012". Retrieved October 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ Rosenbaum, Heather. "Patrick Dempsey and Bruce Jenner Race at VIR". Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ England, Nick. "The Story of VIR". VIR History Pages. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Wolf, Jason (19 August 2008). "VIR crash claims teenager". Danville Register-Bee. Retrieved 20 August 2008. 
  7. ^ "ALMS adds VIR to 2012 event schedule". American Le Mans Series. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 

External links[edit]