Virginia International Racewayis a 3.27 mile road course near Danville, Virginia. The track was not operated for many years, but has recently been revived.
In its current form, VIR includes two shorter configurations. The North Course of 2.25 miles and the South Course of 1.65 miles can be run simultaneously.
The Bertil Roos Racing school is now holding classes at VIR.
Last Updated: 2006-02-19
VIR first operated from August 3rd, 1957 through 1974, with a 3.23 mile course. The track reopened on June 6th, 2000 with a 3.27 mile full course and 2.25 and 1.65 mile north and south courses. The reconstruction was supervised by former Lime Rock VP of Operations Mike Rand, who has since moved on.
Nick England has collected a great deal of historical information on VIR, which may be found at http://www.virhistory.com/.
|Allan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 726. Order from National Speedway Directory|
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
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Hot Lap courtesy of Chris W. Ingle, 2003 Southeast Division T1 National Champion, #7 T1 Corvette Z06. Track Tapes has a video of laps of this track as driven by Chris.
Virginia International Raceway (VIR) is one of the most beautiful facilities in the country and boasts a phenomenal racetrack. Itís located on the southern edge of Virginia and is close to Danville.
It has lots of paddock space, viewing hills and other great spots to watch the race(s).
VIR is actually several courses wrapped up into 1. The normal full course is 3.27 miles long, but can be combined with several other parts to make it over 4. The full course can be divided into at least 3 courses (normally termed the north, south and patriot course) which can be run separately. For the purpose of this 'Hot Lap,' Iíll be referring to the normal full course.
It has lots of run-off room, adequate curbing, tires and other padding in front of the few guardrails, and some very challenging curves for even the most experienced driver.
All shift points and estimated speeds are from my T1 prepared Corvette Z06. Overall, it helps to have a neutral car here. There are parts of the track where a slight push helps, but generally a neutral car that can be turned easily with the throttle is preferred.
Leaving the pits, youíll be on the right side of the track down the front straight. Ensure you check your mirrors carefully before moving over to the left to get set up for turn 1. There will be cars running well over 130 mph down the straight and across the start/finish line which is actually in the middle of a mild curve with a nearly blind apex! The exit of the pits is well after this point, but be careful.
Turn #1 ('Fish Hook' or 'Horse Shoe') is a very sharp, 180 degree right-hand turn. Youíll most likely be in 3d gear. Trail brake the entrance, but the apex should be late. Itís almost always slippery right at the apex, but it grips well after that point. Donít bother tracking out all the way over to the left curbing because you need to get back to the right to set up for #2. There is nothing to be gained by tracking way out. Marbles build up out there quickly and it is slick!
Turn #2 is just a fast left kink, but I still hit the apex and shoot straight for the entrance for #3. You could do a 'rim-shotí around the outside of #2, but again, itís slick and nothing is gained by doing it.
Straighten the wheel after #2 to allow a nice, but gentle straight-line braking zone before 'NASCAR Bend' #3. Turn #3 is much faster than it looks, but you must nail the apex to get it right. I still remain in 3d gear to this point.
Turn #4 ('Left Hook') is a slow 90 degree left-hander, but use a very late apex so not to go wide on the exit because a tight turn #5 is immediately next.
Turn #5 is essentially the first part of a long semi-straight so sacrifice speed thru #4 to get track position for #5. Itís just a standard increasing radius turn, but track out nice and wide for #5a and #6.
As you turn in for #5a, you must be under power. A slight drop throttle will induce a small oversteer and point you right at the apex and thru the corner. This takes a few times to get right, but it is HUGE FUN when you do! As you come out of #6, just ride your tires over the low curbs ('Snake') and power out down the straight and shift to 4th.
The next set of curves are the uphill esses and are extremely fast and are one of two places that separate the best drivers from the rest of the pack. Itís very important to keep your head and eyes up thru this series. The car will follow your eyes. Youíll be flying so donít get fixated on specific points. Just hit your apexes under power and be SMOOTH!!
I enter the esses (turn #7) in 4th gear under power and feather the throttle until Iím over the 2d 'hump' (turn #8) and then on the power thru the last right hand turn #9. Come thru there at full throttle, but limit your track out because the next turn is a very fast lefty affectionately called 'Stevie Wonder' ('South Bend') or turn 10.
To set up for #10, ensure you are as far right as possible under heavy braking and trail brake lightly on turn in to get the front tires to bite. Immediately get to an even throttle and nail that apex. If you miss this one by more than a foot, youíll end up in the grass on the right at the exit, as the track just falls away beneath you -- AWESOME turn!
As you come down the hill over 'Stevie' and then back up, youíll be basically pointing right at the turn-in point for #11 - heel-toe down shift to 3d gear. Since the road is uphill, you can use the brakes later and harder than you think.
For #11, you can either 'rim-shotí this next corner or treat it as a normal turn with a normal apex (which is what I do). If you rim-shot this corner to supposedly get a better set up for 12, you may find someone stick his nose in under you! Contrarily, if somebody blocks you into the corner, it is possible to go to the outside and try to get a better entrance on the next turn. I used this technique in 2003 at the national race there and forced Joe Aqualante to stay in tight and it hurt his exit speed which allowed me to pass him down the straight!
Once thru the turn, straighten the wheel slightly to smoothly trail brake at 'Oak Tree' which is turn #12. This is a decreasing radius right hand turn and imperative you nail the apex here as well due to the narrow exit. Wind the engine up and shift to 4th and enjoy the ride over the rolling Virginia countryside!! Check your gauges, mirrors, relax and breathe! I donít shift to 5th.
Set up on the right side of the track and brake as late as you dare for the next corner. With excellent brakes and a good driver, you can actually wait until the 2 marker or later! Itís downhill though so work your braking points later -- slowly! You can either choose to heel-toe to 3d gear at the end of the braking zone, or stay in 4th, turn left thru #14 and then shift to 3d here. Iíve used both techniques and both work well. If you have a long pedal and donít think you can get max braking at the end of the straight using heel-toe, simply wait until after the next corner. Youíll have time and track space to do it.
The next turn starts the 'Roller Coaster' (#14a) and another great series of turns. Power down the hill, thru #15, but stay in 3d gear. Stay as far to the right as much as possible and straight line brake before the left hand turn #16.
Once you start down #16 though, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO BRAKE!! The compression of the banking and the next turn (#17) eliminate the need. This will also take a few times to get used to. As soon as the car settles, get on the power and control the oversteer thru the next long right hand turn #17a otherwise known as 'Hog Pen.' The car will drift nicely -- enjoy. Shift to 4th when the revs wind up (normally right at the exit) and power down the long straight.
Keep your head and eyes up and treat the start/finish as an apex. Get left after that and stand the car on its nose for the entry back into turn #1. Itís a downhill braking zone and a bit bumpy so it takes longer than you think to stop.
A competitive time in a well-prepared T1 car is anything around 2:10 and below depending on the outside temp which tends to make a huge difference there. This is easily one of the finest road courses in the country so enjoy every mile of it!
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