Media Guests Get the 'Ride of Their Lives' at VIR Alton, Va. (September 1) -- On Wednesday, August 31 at VIRginia International Raceway, a number of invited media guests got the experience of a lifetime when Howard-Boss Motorsports and ...
Media Guests Get the 'Ride of Their Lives' at VIR
Alton, Va. (September 1) -- On Wednesday, August 31 at VIRginia International Raceway, a number of invited media guests got the experience of a lifetime when Howard-Boss Motorsports and world-renowned sports car driver Andy Wallace offered media rides in a Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype.
The media day was organized to promote the upcoming VIR 400, the penultimate round of the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Sports Car Series, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 7-9.
Wallace, who co-drives the No. 2 Citgo Pontiac/Crawford DP03 with Milka Duno and occasionally with NASCAR star Tony Stewart, is one of the world's most respected sports car racers, having won three times at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring and once in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. He piloted various members of the media around the historic 3.27-mile VIR circuit at speeds in excess of 160 mph in a Citgo Pontiac/Crawford specially fitted with a second racing seat.
Also on hand for the day were Wallace's teammates Duno and Elliott-Forbes Robinson, who offered rides to media members in a pair of Pontiac GTO pace cars and some high-performance Pontiac street cars, adding a comparative perspective to the unique mechanical and physical demands placed on a Daytona Prototype and its driver.
The best part of the day was seeing the faces of the media riders as they emerged from the Daytona Prototype and pulled off their helmets, revealing a big grin.
"It far exceeded my expectations," said motorsports journalist Nate Ryan of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who had ridden in various NASCAR race cars and trucks but had never experienced a state-of-the-art prototype sports car. "I was amazed at the smoothness of the ride, and the grip that the car has on the track."
Danville radio personality Dave "Hutch" Hutcheson, a man who talks for a living on WAKG and WBTM, found that the experience left him grasping to find the proper descriptive words.
"That was just fantastic," he said. "It was an amazing experience."
Another first-timer was Danville Mayor John Hamlin, who took the last ride of the day.
"Don't think that race drivers aren't athletes," he exclaimed as he exited the car after two laps with Wallace. "That was great!"
It was just another day at the office for Wallace. He counts VIR among his favorite tracks, and enjoys showing people what it's like on the other side of the fence.
"It's nice to show somebody what these cars can do," he said. "If you stand by the side of a racetrack and you watch the cars day in and day out, they're all the same after awhile. But inside, there's a lot more going on than it looks like. It's always nice to show people that."
For the Howard-Boss team, based just outside Charlotte, N.C., VIR is for all intents and purposes their home track. Team boss Max Crawford and his staff and crew went all out to provide this opportunity to the media, and even extended the schedule well past the original 2:00 p.m. cutoff to allow rides to everyone who wanted one.
"It's public education," Crawford said. "Obviously we've got some fantastic racing in the Rolex Sports Car Series. In the last five races, as best I can recall, with five laps to go we've had 10 cars covered by one second. We have very close finishes, with nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat racing. So we want to promote the product and show the public what we have. It's good for our sponsors, good for our series and good for the track."
VIR general manager Cal Frye was very appreciative of the effort put out by both the team and the Grand-Am staff.
"This was just a great day," he said. "The Grand-Am staff and Howard-Boss Motorsports really bent over backwards to take time out of their busy schedules, at no small expense, to come up here and help us get the word out about how great the racing is in the Rolex Sports Car Series, and what the fans can expect in the VIR 400. The fact that Max, Andy, Elliott, Milka and the crew allowed us to run over the scheduled time window to provide rides to everyone is just a small indication of what great people they are, and their dedication to promoting the series and VIR. We can't thank them enough, and we hope that the media who attended today and, by extension, the public who read and view their work will have a better appreciation of the great racing that is in store when the VIR 400 gets going over the weekend of Oct. 7-9."
The VIR 400 weekend will not only include a 400km race for the Rolex Sports Car Series' Daytona Prototype and GT classes, but also the 200-mile season finale for the popular Grand-Am Cup series for high-performance sports cars, coupes and sedans straight from the dealer showroom floor and racing from the Porsche Club of America.
Advance three-day Super Tickets for the VIR 400 are priced at $50. At the gate, three-day Super Tickets will be priced at $60. Also, single-day tickets will be available for Friday ($15, gate only), Saturday ($25, gate only) and Sunday ($40 advance/$50 gate). VIR is a family-friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available. Visit www.virclub.com for advance ticket sales.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, which is a sales showroom for high-end collector and racing cars; the VIR Safety and Security Institute, which provides specialized training for U.S. Government and military groups; The Lodge at VIR, a 27-room hotel overlooking the track; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.
VIR made history from 1957 to 1974 and is doing so again. The renovated original circuit has 17 challenging turns and 130 feet of elevation change. In addition to spectator events, the track is also available to rent for testing, driving schools and club days.
For more information, visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or contact VIR at 434-822-7700. For more information on the Grand American Road Racing Association, visit their website at www.grandamerican.com.