VIR: Visitor’s Guide

March 11, 2013
VIR usually sets the tone for the year.

Sharon, CT – If the opening weekend at VIRginia International Raceway is any indication to the rest of the season, expect the unexpected, sort of. For the past few seasons the formula has been win at VIR and win the title, but, plenty of other random highlights have happened on the four day weekend in the greater Danville area.

First, there is the weather: early April. Pack a rain jacket, winter jacket and sun screen. In 2007, the majority of the paddock got sun burned on Thursday and Friday before a monsoon of epic proportions rained down on Sunday. To date, there have been few rain storms like that with cars on track. Everyone has their rain storm story, this time, somewhere, at some event. But for the F2000 paddock, and those that have been to every race, that was THE storm. Build a GCR-compliant ark and take two of every chassis kind of storm.

The VIR road course also produces its crop of rookies. Every year, there is some newcomer, registering and showing up late and flying under the radar to only achieve some major results. One year that was Daniel Erickson, another year it was Kyle Connery – who went and qualified on pole before wrecking his car. He would go onto win race after race that year.

That same year, some kid from Miami named Robert La Rocca hung on to finish second on slicks in the rain. That was his F2000 debut, HP-Tech’s first F2000 weekend, and the first F2000 Championship Series race for the RFR package.

For those 30 minutes in 2011, it marked the first race for Connery and La Rocca, and the first time in perhaps a decade “hot” pit-stops were executed as the skies opened under green flag conditions.

The longer-than-usual weekend, with four days of extended track activity, is a great way to start the season for the experienced teams. However, VIR is also the memory for first time appearances to now F2000 powerhouses like HP-Tech, WISKO, and once-upon-a-time Alegra Motorsports – who all were happy to just survive their first outings.

The town of Alton, VA is a humbling experience, but expect most of the paddock to congregate at Aunt Millie’s for pizza (tourist tip: the pizza is big), after, of course, the Fat Boy Racing team hires a band to play from the lift-gate on their tractor trailer as the sun sets over the paddock.

Wandering across the river in Danville leads to a quiet town, with some key industries having long been gone – but go the other way (up the hills) and find just about anything a person would ever need. Looking for the young people (read: very pretty waitresses and plenty of eye candy at the bar tables): Buffalo Wild Wings.

The VIR paddock was designed by Series boss Michael Rand (ask him why he didn’t pave it) – and is made of kitty litter – which you will find in your car three years later. The same Mike Rand who saw a F1600 driver in possible distress at said track last year and proceeded to climb over the fence and investigate further.

If there was a professional visitor’s guide to an opening weekend, the Series staff chapter would suggest to start any friendly feuds in April. Those, then, could last the length of the entire season! Think of the possibilities! Stealing scale pads, for example. 

It is also usually the only time of the year they dare let the paddock on the track in their rental cars, for a slim 15 minutes on Thursday morning.

Don't forget the racing either, this series has seen last lap passes, shootouts, driving across the grass for the race lead and much more, look forward to a great weekend.

No items found.