Danville May Not Be Manhattan

February 20, 2009
 For those looking for the comforts of a hotel, the Lodge with its nice balconies overlooks turns four and five

But, hey, that may be a good thing. There is a lot of racing history in the Dan River area of Virginia. For serious roundy-round guys there is almost no more famous track than South Boston Speedway. And just up the road a piece from Danville is Martinsville. Watching the NASCAR big boys play in that bullring is about as exciting as racin’ gets. Reach out and touch the cars on the track, or the freight train rumbling by under the east stands.


Fine dining is available in the Dan River area, but if you want to know where those establishments are, call Scott Willard. In Danville there are about all the usual national chains. If you are not a risk taker, let those red neon lights guide you to Outback or Applebees or other familiar establishments surrounding the Piedmont Mall. I rely on another, more authentic guide. Mike Rand is a self proclaimed Bar-B-Q lover. You have to wonder how a true Yankee boy from Connecticut can so splendidly describe to differences between North Carolina vinegar based sauce and those tomato based delights of Georgia. Remember he spent quite a bit of time in the reopening process of VIR. He can even claim to have been a resident of Roxboro, North Carolina, before they got the new fangled Burger King with the drive thru winder on the side. So where does Mike go for fine dining as the sun sets on VIR? Taterbugs BBQ on South Boston Highway (US58). Those of you familiar with Pat’s Pig outside Heartland Park Topeka, will find Taterbugs a wee bit more rustic. Is that possible? Yes. Gravel parking in front of a small concrete block building. If you are looking for ambience go to the Pilot Truck Stop over on the Danville Expressway, but, if you are looking for what Mike Rand calls the finest Bar-B-Q in all the land, then amble on in to Taterbugs. Taterbugs is just down the road from Poogeys Buffett and Grill. If you miss Taterbugs as you speed into town on South Boston Highway, you may end up at Mama Possums. Bet they don’t have a Mama Possums in Manhattan. ;)

The closest restaurant to the track, but not at the track, is Aunt Millie’s Pizza Subs & Suds on Broad Street in downtown Milton North Carolina. (http://www.auntmilliespizza.com/) Not too hard to find because I do believe downtown Milton does have only one street, bless its heart. We tried it out last year after consuming too much of Rand’s expensive box wine. We were in the right frame of mind to slow down and go with the flow of the local Miltonians. Available beer overcame the spotty table service.

While we are talking food, dining is available at the track. Oak Tree Tavern is a very nicely restored plantation house up on the hill above the track. While not a Siebkens, the bar gets fairly lively early on race evenings, especially if Jim Morgan is buying. Many eat at the Pagoda Grill in the paddock for their quick breakfast or lunch. The Pagoda has the basic track food, don’t look for a Mobil rating plaque in the foyer. Move to the upper deck to watch the action at turns two and three while dining on picnic tables.

There are many ways to overnight at the track. Take the low budget route and camp in the infield. Competitors can bring their motorhomes into the paddock for our event. For those looking for the comforts of a hotel, the Lodge with its nice balconies overlooks turns four and five. Also, if you rent garage space along pit lane, you may also rent the efficiency apartments above the garages. And for the best view of the Esses, call a realtor and arrange to rent one of the Villas at South Bend.

Some teams rent houses on Lake Hyco a few miles south of the track. The large lake is an impoundment for a electric plant so it stays pleasantly heated all winter. It’s not unusual to see water skiers in April on the warm waters.

Remember, The Great Commonwealth of Virginia more than frowns on radar detectors. They confiscate them. And, for the honor of giving up your “hound dog on the dash”, they also fine you. Ouch. Many of the patrol cars are equipped with a little detector-detector. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.

CDOC is based just up the road a piece in Charlottesville., which is just down the hill from Monticello, home of the gentleman that brought you the Declaration of Independence. The English never forgave us for being a bunch of insurgents, so they keep their race car prices inflated, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, CDOC has a large store in the paddock at VIR. You can get most everything from a quart of oil to the wizziest new shiny European driving suit. Call ahead and they will bring what you need down from the Charlottesville warehouse, if it isn’t already in stock.

Can’t get worn out enough with all the track time that the F2000 Series provides? Well feller, just ease over the hill to one of the neatest kart tracks you’ll see this side of Mosport. On the VIR grounds, this track has some serious elevation changes. Wear yourself out.

For those lucky enough to “arrive and drive”, Raleigh-Durham ( RDU ) is the closest major airport. Its 60 miles away. I’d allow at least one hour and a half because much of the route is not on limited access highways, and on the trip back you won’t have that radar detector anymore.

That’s about it for a quick tour of the Danville/VIR neighborhood. Hope it helps you enjoy the area as much as we do.