Virginia (VIR): History reborn this weekend

History reborn this weekend at inaugural VIR 500; Rolex Series brings professional racers from around globe to VIR ALTON, Va. (August 27, 2002) -- The extensive sports car racing history of Virginia International Raceway will be reborn this ...

History reborn this weekend at inaugural VIR 500; Rolex Series brings professional racers from around globe to VIR

ALTON, Va. (August 27, 2002) -- The extensive sports car racing history of Virginia International Raceway will be reborn this weekend when the Rolex Sports Car Series returns professional sports car racing to the historic racetrack with the VIR 500.

VIR's history extends back to 1957 when the 3.27-mile racetrack hosted its first sports car race - an SCCA event featuring small-bore production cars. In 1971 the racetrack hosted the first-ever IMSA race, beginning the modern era of sports car racing that carried the sport to new heights of popularity. Several of the greatest road racers in history took turns around the track, including Roger Penske, Skip Barber, Bob Leitzinger, Hurley Haywood, Brock Yates, Richard Attwood, Peter Gregg, Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones.

The rich history of sports car racing at VIR appeared as though it would come to an end in 1974 when the track was closed due to economic hardship. After 25 years of being used as farmland, New York-based real estate developer and longtime sports car racer Harvey Siegel breathed life back into the track by partnering with Connie Lee Nyholm in the purchase and re-building of VIR.

Since it's re-opening in 2000, VIR has hosted several amateur sports car events, including SCCA, historic and vintage series and Ferrari Challenge, but this weekend VIR sees the return of professional sports car racing with the Rolex Sports Car Series VIR 500.

The Rolex Sports Car Series event will mark the first major automotive race at the track since it's re-opening and will add more prestigious names in motorsports to the list of those who have raced the circuit.

Racers from around the world will travel to VIR this weekend to compete, including Belgium's Didier Theys, Monaco's Mauro Baldi, Germany's Franz Konrad and Ralf Kelleners, Sweden's Niclas Jonsson, England's Andy Wallace, Portugal's Joao Barbosa, New Zealand's Andy and Stephen Richards and France's Patrice Roussel. More than 13 countries from four continents will be represented in the driver lineup for Sunday's VIR 500.

For information on the VIR 500 and to purchase tickets to the event visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or call 888-RACE-099. Additional information about the Rolex Sports Car Series can be found online at www.grand-am.com.

-grand am-

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