In the world of motorsport racing, VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) is legendary as one of the country’s first permanent road racing circuits. Located at the Virginia-North Carolina border, VIR features 1,300 acres of world-class facilities and resort club amenities just an hour’s drive from the Raleigh-Durham metro area.
The rolling hills and lush forest are home to a 3.27-mile road course, as well as onsite lodging, dining, driver’s club, karting, off-road racing, skeet shooting, pistol and rifle ranges, conference space and technology park.
History of VIRginia International Raceway
The idea for a track began with a group of North Carolina car enthusiasts in 1955. They discovered the perfect site for a racetrack on land owned by the Foote Family and leased the property as Sports Car Enterprises, opening VIRginia International Raceway in 1957.
VIR’s first official event was an SCCA race that famously featured Carl Haas, Bob Holbert, Augie Pabst, Bob Grossman, Don Yenko, Dick Thompson, Walt Hansgen, Bruce Jennings and first VIR race winner Carroll Shelby, who would go on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and create the iconic AC Shelby Cobra.
Visitors today can drive the same 3.27-mile, 17-turn “Full Course” as those early legends, where the only change has been select track widening to offer safer run-off room to drivers.
Other configurations include a 4.2-mile “Grand Course,” a 2.25-mile “North Course” and a 1.65-mile “South Course,” and an inner-loop 1.1-mile “Patriot Course.” The road courses cover 130 feet of elevation change with a maximum 4,000-ft. straightaway.
After 1959, VIR came under the control of the Civil Air Patrol, where Colonel Paul Rembold and track manager Henry Wallace grew the operation to include sports car, motorcycle and kart racing events attended by thousands of fans. Famous events from the period include the fourth-ever SCCA Trans-Am race in 1966 and first-ever IMSA GT race in 1971.
After facing difficulties in the 1970s, VIR reverted to farmland for decades before being revived and transformed into America’s first “Motorsport Resort” by Connie Nyholm and Harvey Siegel in 1998. Since 2000, VIR has become a world-class venue, hosting the Michelin GT Challenge, MotoAmerica, Blancpain GT World Challenge America, HyperFest, SVRA Gold Cup, and SCCA Runoffs.
Fun Facts About VIRginia International Raceway
- VIR’s 3.27-mile “Full Course” and 1.1-mile “Patriot Course” are designed so both tracks can run at the same time, as can the 2.25-mile “North Course” and 1.65-mile “South Course.”
- The massive, unforgettable oak tree that stood for more than 150 years and graced the apex turn fell in 2013. VIR sells pieces of this icon and even attempted to have the tree cloned.
- The VIR Driving Club offers members 18 exclusive driving days per year, with on-track coaching, HPDE training, clubhouse access and spectator viewing.
- VIR offers several onsite lodging options for guests, including a traditional Lodge hotel option, Pit Lane Rooms overlooking the finish line and two-story luxury Villas at the South Bend.
- VIR offers numerous onsite dining options, including the Oak Tree Tavern restaurant serving steak and seafood dinners, Connie’s Pub serving drinks and appetizers, Pagoda Grill serving event snacks.
- The onsite VIRginia Motorsport Technology Park is a leading tech center hosting the National Tire Research Center and Virginia Tech’s SoVA Motion Vehicle Lab.
- After his first race at VIR, Carroll Shelby is said to have remarked, “One lap at VIR is like a hundred at Watkins Glen.”
Events at VIRginia International Raceway are always exciting. Find a complete schedule of upcoming events at VIR. And as always, ensure you and your car are protected during track day events with insurance from Lockton Motorsports. Find the policy that fits your needs.