VIRginia Int'l Raceway pre-race news

Grand-Am Excitement Returns to VIR As Part of Prototype, Formula Car and Motorcycle Extravangza DANVILLE, VA. - The excitement of the Grand-Am Rolex Series is returning to VIRrginia International Raceway, scene of the series' most exciting ...

Grand-Am Excitement Returns to VIR As Part of Prototype, Formula Car and Motorcycle Extravangza

DANVILLE, VA. - The excitement of the Grand-Am Rolex Series is returning to VIRrginia International Raceway, scene of the series' most exciting race finish last year. The sleek prototype sports cars are coming back to the track where a last-lap, virtually last-turn pass decided the outcome after 400 km of racing over the twists, turns and hills of scenic VIR.

The 2006 VIR400 ended with a thrilling pass on the last lap, approaching the last turn, by the winning driver duo of Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long, in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche/Crawford. Rockenfeller, driving the final stint for the team, raced nose-to-tail over the last 20 laps of the race before he took advantage of a slower car and an attempted pass by the second-place car to sweep through into the lead in the downhill esses leading to the checkered flag. The victory atoned for a miscue in the qualifying race, when Rockenfeller slowed on the last lap, mistaking the white flag for the checkered flag. "It was redemption for the qualifying race," he said in Victory Lane. "It was a great win . a gap opened and I raced through it to the win."

Look for more of the same exciting racing action when the Grand-Am Rolex Series returns to VIRginia International Raceway the weekend of April 27- 29. Joining the exotic Daytona Prototype racers will be the thundering GT cars, with Corvettes, Mazdas, Mustangs, Porsches and more, all competing in their own feature race Saturday. More racing action will be provided by the Star Mazda open wheeled racers and the Skip Barber National Championship open wheelers.

The SunTrust MOTO ST Motorcycle Endurance Series puts a new twist on the weekend when the "Sport Twins" motorcycle enduro racers take to VIR's rolling countryside for their own brand of action. In the first ever appearance of this new pro-endurance series at VIR, fans will see 3 hours of motorcycle action. Special free parking areas for motorcycles will be reserved. This new addition to the weekend's slate of racing features twin- cylinder motorcycles in a race over 500 kilometers on the full VIR historic circuit, while most other bike races are on the shorter north course. Adding even more variety to the mix, the Star Mazda and Skip Barber open- wheeled racers provide some more subtle control needs, as open-wheeled formula cars take to the track in a series of thrilling contests.

All the cars are identically prepared Skip Barber Formula 2000 open-wheel "wings and slicks" formula cars. The Skip Barber Formula 2000 is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine, producing 150 horsepower. The chassis is a space-frame using a Ricardo Engineering 5-speed sequential gearbox. The body features a single-element front wing with a raised nose-box and a dual element rear wing. Power is transferred to the track by BFGoodrich g-Force racing slicks and wets.

The Skip Barber series has seen many alumni move onto the higher rungs of the motorsports ladder, including Marco Andrett, A.J. Allmendinger and numerous other stars of racing.

The Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear is one more starting step on the ladder to racing success. Sharing the concept of tightly controlled car specifications, with all cars identical, these series both emphasize driver skill over budget and preparation. Powered by Mazda rotary "Renesis engines and driving through a six-speed sequential gearbox, these 1100-lb rockets provide more than enough excitement for their drivers and for fans.

"This weekend's activities will provide racing fans with all the action they can take," said VIR General Manager Josh Lief. "We're sure that race fans of all types will find something to enjoy and appreciate at the VIR400 weekend."

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located just on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Virginia. 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 Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8 mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27-room trackside hotel; the VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual-purpose hospitality/lodging units and garages; Camp Motorsport; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

-credit: vir

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers A.J. Allmendinger , Skip Barber , Mike Rockenfeller