VIR 2003 season preivew

VIR 2003 season offers something for everyone. Alton, Va. (Jan. 27) - Officials at VIRginia International Raceway released their schedule for the 2003 season today, a schedule that will showcase the best of professional and amateur automobile...

VIR 2003 season offers something for everyone.

Alton, Va. (Jan. 27) - Officials at VIRginia International Raceway released their schedule for the 2003 season today, a schedule that will showcase the best of professional and amateur automobile and motorcycle racing.

The season kicks off over the weekend of April 25-27 with the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER and the Skip Barber Challenge Series. These two series feature the best up-and-coming talent in the world of American open-wheel racing.

The Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER is the Official National Amateur Championship of CART, and was designed to bridge the gap between the top karting ranks and professional racing. Drivers utilize identically prepared Reynard-built R/T 2000 chassis with 150hp, 2.0-liter Dodge four-cylinder engines and sequential gearboxes on Michelin slicks.

The Skip Barber Challenge is a new loyalty venture, eligible to select Skip Barber customers who have participated in at least one full regional championship season. The enhanced series is designed to give the drivers the opportunity to experience and compete in the Dodge Reynard 98E -- the same car raced in the Barber Dodge Pro Series -- under familiar Skip Barber regional rules.

The weekend will feature two races for each series as well as practice and qualifying sessions. There will be regional competition for the Skip Barber Racing Series as well.

The season continues over the weekend of May 9-11 with the Fourth Annual Double SARRC/Double MARRS Challenge hosted by the North Carolina Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).

In excess of 400 cars from all over the East Coast are expected to enter this landmark event. Cars from the Washington, D.C. area and northward compete in the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS), while their southern counterparts race in the South Atlantic Road Racing Championship (SARRC). Up to 90 cars at a time filling VIR's winding 3.27-mile, 17-turn course makes the competition especially intense.

Since it returned to VIR in 2000, this event has grown into the biggest SCCA regional east of the Mississippi, with the friendly "North vs. South" rivalry adding spice to an already fiercely competitive weekend.

If you like your racing fast, furious and on two wheels, VIRginia International Raceway will be the place to be over the weekend of May 23-26, as the WERA Cycle Jam Nationals provides four days of non-stop, wheel-to-wheel excitement.

WERA is one of America's oldest and largest national sanctioning bodies for motorcycle road racing, and is known for showcasing up-and-coming talent as well as close competition. The series' return to VIR is the fourth round of the WERA/GMD Computrack National Endurance Series, National Challenge Series and Sportsman Series.

The feature race of the weekend will be the four-hour WERA/GMD Computrack Endurance Series event. The race will feature plenty of strategy and pit-stop action, as each team will be required to stop several times for fuel and a rider change.

Over the weekend of June 6-8, VIR's signature vintage racing event, the Gold Cup Historic Races presented by Berry Hill, will feature Road Racing Specials as the featured marque.

In the heyday of 1950s sports car racing, many resourceful road racers applied what was known as "hot-rod" thinking to develop low-cost alternatives to the expensive world-class machinery from such manufacturers as Ferrari, Maserati and Jaguar. The result was a large number of lightweight, high-horsepower "Specials" that raced from coast to coast. These innovative cars ranged from the very successful, like the Scarab, Devin, Bocar and Chapparal, to the less successful and obscure. VIR hopes to have a representative cross-section of both small- and large-bore Road Racing Specials on hand to illustrate this fascinating chapter of road racing history.

In addition, special emphasis will be placed on those cars that utilized the small-block V8 engine during the 1950s and '60s, such as Corvettes, Lister-Chevrolets, Allard-Cadillacs, Cobras and Shelby GT350s. Vintage Motorsport Magazine will sponsor the Road Racing Specials races (both small- and large-bore) and the American V8 Thunder race.

The weekend's honored guest will be Bill Sadler, who built some of the most innovative, creative and successful Road Racing Specials of the late 1950s and early '60s. Sadler will be racing his own Chevy-powered Sadler Mk III, and there will be a number of other Sadlers on hand as well.

The 2003 Gold Cup Historic Races will also be the annual focus event for the MG Vintage Racers organization, a long-standing fixture in American vintage competition, and will welcome Monoposto Racing, a nationwide network of vintage formula car enthusiasts.

Off-track activities will include the second annual Gold Cup Car Show, sponsored by Moss Motors. Fans will be able to vote for their favorite cars in a number of categories, including American, Foreign and Competition, and a Hot Rod category is being contemplated. Also returning in 2003 will be the popular G&W Motorsports Pinewood Derby, which will pit kids of all ages against each other with their home-built racers constructed from blocks of wood that cannot weigh more than five ounces in a competition format originated by the Boy Scouts in 1953.

The North Carolina Region of the SCCA will create a new tradition over the weekend of June 14-15, with an eight-hour multi-class endurance race called The Charge of the Headlight Brigade that will put cars, drivers and teams to the ultimate test over the challenging twists and turns of VIR.

In addition, the weekend will feature five of SCCA's professional racing series: Pro Spec Racer, Pro Miata Challenge, Formula SCCA, American Cities Racing League and the U.S. F2000 Zetec Championship. These series provide a showcase for up-and-coming road racing talent in identical or similar cars, and razor-close competition is guaranteed.

Motorcycle fans have a lot to look forward to over the weekend of June 27-29, as the rolling topography of VIR will resonate with the sounds of two-wheeled competition.

The Virginia Festival of Speed, featuring the Championship Cup Series and Formula USA, will provide a combination of the best Sportsman and Professional Motorcycle Road Racers vying for their share of more than $100,000 in purse and prizes. Friday afternoon is the Virginia 200, Saturday it's Sportsman action and on Sunday the professionals take to the track in Sportbike, Superbike, Thunderbike and the "No holds barred" Unlimited GP classes.

Another new feature of the weekend is the XSBA freestyle street bike competition, and the organizers promise the best stunt/freestyle riders in the country vying for honors.

Historic Sportscar Racing, Ltd. (HSR) will visit VIR over the weekend of July 12-13, providing a rolling history lesson in road racing. The highlights of the event will be the American Muscle Car Challenge, World Championship of Makes Series, World Sportscar Series, Historic GT, Klub Sport Porsche Challenge, Rolex Endurance Challenge Series Races and WorldCom Dash Series Races.

Many of the cars that race with HSR raced at VIR in its early days, between 1957-74, and will be right at home on the challenging and beautiful 3.27-mile circuit.

By the time August rolls around, racers in the SCCA will be clamoring to score late-season points in National events that will make them eligible for the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs® at Mid-Ohio in September, at which all the national championship titles will be decided.

As a result, the annual Oak Tree National over the weekend of August 9-10 attracts not only drivers from the host region, but from other regions all along the Atlantic seaboard who are anxious to grab some valuable championship points. This can lead to some very interesting and unusual match-ups on the track and guaranteed great racing.

The fastest and most exotic road racing motorcycles in America will return to VIR for a third time over Labor Day weekend, August 29-31, as AMA Pro Racing's wildly popular VIR Lightning Nationals brings the best in the business to do battle.

The doubleheader format will give fans two feature races for the headlining Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, where the factory teams and world's best riders compete for corporate bragging rights, utilizing staggering budgets to produce the most technologically advanced bikes to be seen in this country.

Rounding out the program will be AMA's other pro series, the Pro Honda Oils Supersport, Lockhart-Phillips Formula Extreme, Suzuki Genuine Accessories Superstock and MBNA 250 Grand Prix.

Sports car fans are in for a history-making weekend when the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series' VIR 400 returns over the weekend of October 3-5.

The Rolex Sports Car Series is inaugurating a new series of prototype sports racer, the Daytona Prototype, in this year's season opener at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and has staked its future on this new class as its headline attraction.

The cars slightly resemble the late and lamented Grand Touring Prototypes of the late IMSA series, being closed-roof, rear-/mid-engined coupes that utilize engines in two categories: normally aspirated production six- or eight-cylinder 245 c.i. powerplants open to modification, allowing America's hot rod spirit to thrive, and V8 engines up to 305 c.i. with tightly controlled specifications that must be run as produced.

The Daytona Prototypes, SRPII small-bore open-cockpit prototypes and the GTS and GT production-based coupes will all take to the track for a 400km/three-hour race on Sunday afternoon. The weekend's supporting acts will be the popular Grand-Am Cup series for street stock cars, divided into four classes for a three-hour enduro on Saturday, and the Fran-Am series for V6 Renault-powered open-wheelers.

The 2003 season at VIR will come to what has become a customary close over the weekend of October 11-12 with the season finale for the vintage sports and racing cars of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association. The highlight of the weekend will be the Formula Car Festival, featuring the finest vintage open-wheelers in America, plus the BOSS Series, UBS/PaineWebber Enduro Series, Edelbrock Sprint Series and Monoposto Series.

So whether your tastes in motorsports runs toward two or four wheels, VIR has something for everyone in 2003. The combination of intense competition, with one of America's most challenging racetracks in an incredibly beautiful setting and a heaping helping of southern hospitality adds up to a perfect recipe for fun and excitement.

"We're really looking forward to the 2003 season," said VIR co-owner Connie Nyholm. "We have a great mix of events this year, and we're continuing to add improvements and amenities to the facility that make it second to none. We hope all the fans who have visited us in the past will return this year with their families and friends. We're going to have a lot of fun at VIR this year, and we'd hate for anyone to miss out on it."

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River 12 miles east of Danville, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (which is designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club, and the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park. The newest addition to the facility is the VIR Euro Rally School and Corporate Motorsport Experience, which features four rally stages plus a kart track, motocross track, ATV and SUV training grounds and an advanced safari course. Future plans include the VIR Gallery, a showroom for high-end collector and racing cars, and resort lodging.

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, contact VIR at 888-RACE099 or visit the track's website at www.virclub.com.

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About this article
Series Other bike , Road racing
Drivers Skip Barber , Bill Sadler