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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Virginia International Raceway - IMSA


Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Virginia International Raceway 1245 Pine Tree Rd Alton, VA 24520



Year Opened: 1957

Capacity: 10,000

 

IMSA Stars and Cars at VIR

The famed Virginia International Raceway has been a favorite visit among sportscar racers for decades. It hosts multiple racing events during the season, including SRO, Trans-Am, SVRA, and GridLife. The winding roads through the hills of rural southern Virginia are challenging for many, while also providing a beautiful, verdant backdrop for some of racing’s best to test each other’s mettle.


Visiting the track has become a must-do for some of racing’s biggest fans over the years, and a visit to the facility helps you understand why rather quickly. IMSA weekend is without a doubt the biggest race weekend of the year, which means this is a must-see for sportscar fans in the area.


Food & Beverage 3

There are several food options in the main paddock area, including the popular Paddock Café. This spot nestled next to the track features burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and more. To make it easier for fans to order, the café also has several bundle options that generally run in the $10 range for a main item (burger, chicken, etc.), fries, and a drink.


In addition, the track has snacks, ice cream, and various other items for sale at the main concessions stand, and some food trucks pop up throughout the bigger race weekends down in the paddock area. Recently, automated tablets have been added here to speed up the ordering process, but lines to pick up orders are no less short.


The track also has an on-site restaurant called Oak Tree Tavern & Connie’s Pub, which is a more upscale option than something on the quick service side down by the paddock. The biggest downside at Virginia International Raceway, however, is that there are no other food options around the facility for fans who set up camp in other parts of the venue, or who wish to wander the property to watch the racing action. Thankfully, during IMSA weekend various food trucks set up near the paddock and fan zone to offer alternative food and beverage options for fans.


Atmosphere 5

Virginia International Raceway’s track is big, fast, and beautiful. Most of the track’s viewing areas offer views that extend beyond just one corner and include the complex heading up to and away from where you are set up, something that many other road courses are unable to boast. The fans also tend to come from all around and pack in the viewing mounds and grandstands around the facility, meaning you will be surrounded by your racing friends all weekend.


The paint scheme and architecture of the various buildings harkens back to southern plantation-style homes, as well as to the farmhouses and barns that the rural south has become known for. Situated next to a watershed for a river, the surrounding area is also full of beautiful green trees to give Virginia International Raceway that special wooded look.

VIR also continues to improve the fan access experience year over year – new tent camping areas were opened a few years ago inside the turn 1-4 area on the driver’s left, while the RV camping and fan viewing areas were also extended far down the backstretch.


Neighborhood 1

The biggest downside to VIR is its lack of neighbors. While there is peace in the solitude of VIR’s rural setting, there is quite literally nothing around Virginia International Raceway in any direction for at least half an hour. Located just over an hour north of the greater Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina, and half an hour southeast of South Boston in Virginia, you have to drive a while to find anything as far as hotels or restaurants.


A lot of fans and teams stay in Danville, VA to the west, which is where you can find the closest places to eat. There you can find restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings and 2 Witches Winery & Brewing Company, or lodging options such as Sleep Inn & Suites and Courtyard by Marriott. For something to do while in the area, South Boston Speedway features local short track racing on weekend nights, or down in Durham, NC you can visit Duke Forest for a quiet hike in the suburbs.


Fans 4

The fans at Virginia International Raceway are pretty great as far as sportscar racing fans go. They love anything motorsports, show up en masse for race weekends, and know everything about the sport they love and the drivers who compete in it. You can find everything from young fans who are learning about the sport to diehard loyalists who have been going for a long time.


IMSA has seen a resurgence of fan numbers in recent years, and the crowds at VIR reflect that. Filled caping sites and packed hillsides mean the racers are performing in front of large crowds that love racing, and it is a welcome sight.


Access 2

To get to Virginia International Raceway, you have to drive off the main roads. State Highway 58 is the closest main roadway, connecting Danville to South Boston. There are no major highways in or around the area, with I-85 almost 30-45 minutes away to the southeast.


That said, once you get to the track parking is plentiful on site and is well-marked. Fans can also enjoy getting around the facility easily, thanks to the signage pointing them towards the paddock area from the main parking lots in the infield.


Return on Investment 4

Tickets for IMSA at VIR are affordable, offering fans the ability to not have to break the bank to get access to exciting racing. Camping passes are also affordable, which means you can take in the races on-site without losing your shirt. Add in concessions for relatively average prices, and a family of four can watch a full weekend of quality sportscar racing for under $250 all in.


Extras 4

Virginia International Raceway’s victory lane is located right in the main paddock, meaning fans can get up close to the post-race celebrations.

The venue also erects TV screens at various points around the property for fans to see the action around the track while it’s happening, meaning you won’t miss anything regardless of where you decide to watch the race.


Tickets to race weekend also get you into the paddock area for free, something other tracks and races require an additional ticket for. In addition, races at Virginia International Raceway also generally include driver meet and greets and autograph sessions for fans to see the stars up close. IMSA itself also hosts various autograph sessions during the race weekend, allowing fans the ability to meet their favorite drivers.


Final Thoughts

Taking a trip to Virginia International Raceway is a must-do for any race fan who wants to see some quality sportscar racing. The track is big, technical, and exciting. Fans from all around flock to the speedway for a day at the races, and it is easy to see why.


While driving to the track and finding a place to stay nearby may be a challenge, Virginia International Raceway offers plenty for both casual and diehard sports fans to make your visit worth the trek.

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