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A NEW HIGH FOR VIR

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / August 21, 2014
Halifax County’s racing scene will hit a new high when the top series in American professional sports car racing visits Virginia International Raceway this weekend.

The Tudor United Sports Car championship series will visit VIR with activities beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday..

Fans can watch Hollywood actor and producer Patrick Demsey in action in a unique combined GT feature race Sunday afternoon. There are championship battles across the landscape. Drivers from around the globe will be at VIR.

Jonathan Bomarito, a Spanish driver who now lives in Knoxville, Tenn. drives for the GT Le Mans SRT Viper team. Gian Carlo Fisichella, from Rome, Italy, drives a GT-Le Mans Ferraris. Wolf Henzler, from Germany, races for the Falken Tire team in a Porsche for the GT-Le Mans class. Jan Magnussen, from Denmark, races for Corvette Racing in the GT-Le Mans class.

There are a host of former VIR racing champions from a dizzying array of former classes who are coming back this weekend. Stevenson Motorsports, is bringing a Camaro Z/28.R team that features three drivers — Andy Lally, Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis — who are past champions in Grand Am, now part of the merged USSC.

Colin Braun, the youngest driver ever to be on the podium of the 24 Hours of LeMans, and a former series regular in both the NASCAR Camping World and Nationwide series, also is part of the lineup.

Friday features a free Fan Forum from 11:30 a.m.-noon, with a question and answer series to be attended by five Tudor series drivers.

Saturday and Sunday will feature free paddock access and a grid walk with a paid ticket. There will be a two autograph sessions with drivers.

VIR also has built a brand new start/finish line that allows for better sight lines for the fans.

IMSA, the sanctioning body for the Tudor weekend, has helped bolster local hotel sales. An IMSA website note also explained how VIR has improved the racing enjoyment for the fans.

For more information, visit VIRnow.com, or check out the IMSA website.

IMSA TV AND INTERNET SCHEDULE: The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT classes will take the spotlight in the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway.

The GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes compete on the scenic circuit that hosted the very first IMSA GT Series race in 1971. The weekend also includes two 45-minute races for the Prototype Challenge (PC) competitors, and the return of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge to VIR on Saturday.

The TUDOR Championship Prototype Challenge class will be joined by the IMSA Prototype Lites competitors for race 1-5:15 p.m.

Saturday’s action also includes the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in a two-hour, 30-minute race beginning at 2 p.m.

Qualifying - Qualifying for the TUDOR Championship PC class and the Prototype Lites begins at 10:50 a.m., and the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes will set the field for the Oak Tree Grand Prix with qualifying streamed live on IMSA.com at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Oak Tree Grand Prix features the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes only for the first time.

TOURISM IMPACT: Linda Shepperd, director of the Halifax County Department of Tourism, noted, “Virginia is truly a racing destination and VIR is a major player.

“VIR is becoming a significant driver in the economic arena for Halifax County and the region. The Tudor race this weekend is the only time this series will run in the mid-Atlantic region.

“With drivers from across many borders this race has an international flavor and that attracts international and national media attention.

“There has been a definite increase in ticket sales through the visitor center with the majority staying for several days in the community,” Shepperd said.

VIR visitors can check out the Halifax County tourism website, http://www.gohalifaxva.com, or visit the local tourism center.

TRACK UPGRADES: VIR Improvements include widened circuit, paved paddock.

While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series raced at the local circuit from 2002-2011, and the American Le Mans Series competed there in 2012 and 2013, the 3.27-mile circuit was completely repaved and partially widened since last year’s race.

Circuit officials took care to retain the original racing line of the 3.27-mile circuit that opened in 1971, widening the circuit by six feet at several locations to allow more passing opportunities.

“I loved the way the track was before, but now it’s even better,” said Patrick Long, driver of the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR and a DP winner at the circuit in 2006. “In the past there were a few sections that were a little too narrow for side-by-side battles. Now,they’ve widened the track in certain sections and changed the curb layout.

“I think it’s going to bring a whole new flow to the track.”

Tommy Milner, the lone Virginia driver in the Tudor Championship, is looking forward to experiences on the repaved track.

“They’ve made a bunch of changes this year to a number of places,” said Milner, who co-drives the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R with Oliver Gavin. “They’ve repaved the surface and have added some runoff curbing and some room for runoff in some important corners.

“It was always a challenge there to be on the right line or you risked having some big moments. I don’t think they’ve taken any of the challenge away; they’ve made it a little nicer for us on the track for us drivers with multiple classes where you need that extra six inches of road to keep close to your competitors.

“I’m excited to see how that works,” said Milner.

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