RACE: National Runoffs: VIR congrats Knowles on win

VIR Veteran Wins SCCA National Championship Alton, Va. (October 20) -- One of VIRginia International Raceway's distinguished veterans added to an already stellar résumé last weekend by winning a third Sports Car Club of America ...

VIR Veteran Wins SCCA National Championship

Alton, Va. (October 20) -- One of VIRginia International Raceway's distinguished veterans added to an already stellar résumé last weekend by winning a third Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship. Don Knowles, of Pittsboro, N.C., captured the Showroom Stock B National Championship at the 43rd annual SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas.

Driving the No. 35 iRacing.com Pontiac Solstice, Knowles started from second position alongside teammate Andrew Aquilante, took the lead on the first lap and never looked back, posting an eventual 27.381sec margin of victory over the Honda Civic Si of Chad Gilsinger, with a BMW Z4 driven by defending National Champion Toby Grahovec finishing third.

Knowles won his first two National Championships in this same class in consecutive seasons, 1978 and 1979. Now, 27 years later, he's added the hat trick. His illustrious career began in 1972, when he attended an SCCA Drivers School at VIR in an Opel Model 51. Since then, he has competed in over 300 races. Among his professional racing achievements are a co-championship (with John Heinricy) in the 1989 SCCA Escort Endurance Series' SSGT class; being named 1989 Driver of the Year in the IMSA Firehawk Series; 14 wins in 24-hour races (a World Record); 19 wins in the SCCA Escort Endurance series (all-time record holder); winner of eight straight pro races (a record at the time); and being a member of the Corvette team that set three world land speed endurance records and nine international speed records at Ft. Stockton, Tex., in 1990, averaging over 175 mph for 24 hours.

Today, Knowles works as a high-performance driving instructor for General Motors, training engineers in the intricacies of high-speed driving so they can test new Corvettes and other high-performance vehicles at such racing circuits as VIR and Germany's Nürburgring.

"Having attended my first drivers school at VIR sure helped to get off on the right foot," Knowles said. "VIR has at least one example of every type of challenging turn, so one who can do well at VIR can do well anywhere."

"We are happy to add our congratulations to the many others that Don has received on his most recent National Championship," said VIR general manager Josh Lief. "He is living testament to something we've known all along: when you learn to race at VIR, you can race and win anywhere. Don has been an ardent VIR supporter over the years, and it's great to see one of our own realize such a prestigious achievement."

Knowles will be just one of a long list of VIR veterans who will be on hand next June 8-10 for VIR's signature vintage racing event, the Gold Cup Historic Races, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the track's opening in 1957. There will be a number of very special cars and drivers on hand for the event, with specific announcements to be made in the weeks and months to come.

-credit: vir

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Series SCCA
Drivers John Heinricy , Toby Grahovec , Chad Gilsinger , Don Knowles , Andrew Aquilante