VIR pre-race notes

Rolex Series Coming to VIR This Weekend Alton, Va. (April 17) -- One of the world's fastest-growing and most competitive professional road racing series will be strutting its stuff on the beautiful 3.27-mile VIRginia ...

Rolex Series Coming to VIR This Weekend

Alton, Va. (April 17) -- One of the world's fastest-growing and most competitive professional road racing series will be strutting its stuff on the beautiful 3.27-mile VIRginia International Raceway circuit this weekend, April 21-23, when the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve arrives for the VIR 400.

Grand American revolutionized professional sports car racing in America with its Daytona Prototype concept in 2003, creating a class of exotic prototype racers with strict specifications designed to contain costs and equalize competition. The result has been unprecedented growth and remarkably close racing. The class has grown from seven entries in the 2003 VIR 400 to 26 cars entered this weekend, and has attracted some prestigious manufacturers as engine suppliers, including Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Ford and Pontiac.

Accompanying the Daytona Prototypes in the VIR 400 will be the equally successful GT class, featuring tube-frame coupes and sedans based on familiar road-going vehicles. A field of 21 GT cars is entered, including such familiar nameplates as Pontiac GTO, Porsche 911, Mazda RX-8, BMW M3 and Chevrolet Corvette.

The VIR 400 will be the fifth of 15 rounds for the Daytona Prototypes, and the fourth of 15 for the GT class. The series opened at Daytona International Speedway in late January for the legendary Rolex 24 at Daytona, won by NASCAR Nextel Cup standout Casey Mears, former IRL champion Scott Dixon and defending IRL champion and Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon in a Target Lexus/Riley fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The series moved on to Mexico City in early March, where former series co-champ Scott Pruett and hometown favorite Luis Diaz scored an extremely popular victory in a sister Ganassi Racing Lexus/Riley sponsored by Telmex. In late March the series returned to Florida, where a shootout under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway was settled in favor of the new Alex Job Racing Porsche/Crawford co-driven by Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller, and the most recent race was two weeks ago at the prestigious Grand Prix of Long Beach, a stand-alone event for the Daytona Prototype that saw Pruett and Diaz hold off Long and Rockenfeller for their second win of the season.

In the GT class, the TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Randy Pobst/Michael Levitas/Ian Baas/Spencer Pumpelly won the season opener at Daytona, but since then everything has gone the way of the factory-entered Pontiac GTO.R of Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards, who won at both Mexico City and Homestead.

The Rolex Series will be joined over the weekend by the popular Grand-Am Cup Series for modified street-stock vehicles and the Skip Barber National Championship presented by RACER magazine, one of America's most renowned training series for aspiring open-wheel racers. On-track action will begin on Friday, April 21 at 8:00 am. Friday's schedule includes practice for all three series, plus a qualifying race for the Skip Barber National Championship. Saturday's schedule includes qualifying and the VIR 200 race for Grand-Am Cup, practice and two points-paying qualifying races for the Rolex Series and the first of two races for the Skip Barber National Championship. Sunday's schedule includes the second Skip Barber National Championship race and the Rolex Series' VIR 400, which is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 pm.

This year's VIR 400 features a new date, as the event has moved from its traditional October weekend. The benefit to fans and racers alike is that spring is in full blossom in Southside Virginia, and it is the most beautiful time of the year to enjoy VIR's park-like grounds.

"We've been waiting all winter for this weekend," said VIR co-owner Connie Nyholm. "The Rolex Series keeps getting better and better, and this competition this year has been fierce. VIR is the first true road-racing circuit on their schedule, and we're expecting the best race of the year. To have the VIR 400 in April, with spring busting out all over, is like icing on the cake. It's going to be a great weekend, and we can't wait to get it started!"

Three-day Super Tickets for the VIR 400 weekend will be available at the gate, priced at $60. Also, single-day tickets will be available for Friday ($15), Saturday ($25) and Sunday ($50). VIR is a family-friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available. Call 434-822-7700, ext. 116 or 300 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, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, a sales showroom for high-end collector and racing cars; Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8-mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27-room trackside hotel; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

For more information on VIR, visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434-822-7700. For more information on the Grand American Road Racing Association, visit their website at www.grandamerican.com. For more information on the Skip Barber National Championship, visit their website at www.skipbarber.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Scott Pruett , Randy Pobst , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Skip Barber , Spencer Pumpelly , Chip Ganassi , Ian Baas , Mike Rockenfeller , Alex Job
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Alex Job Racing