American Le Mans Series: ALMS Adds VIR to 2012 Event Schedule

By Auto News Log • January 17th, 2012

Series’ debut race at Virginia circuit will be on 4.1-mile Grand Course

The list of American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón venues continues to grow with the addition of historic Virginia International Raceway for the 2012 season. North America’s leading sports car championship will contest its first race at VIR on Saturday, Sept. 15 in a four-hour enduro.

The first ALMS race at VIR – located in Danville, Va. – also will mark the first competition on the track’s impressive 4.1-mile, 31-turn Grand Course. It’s a safe bet that track speed records will fall at the hands of the world’s most exotic prototype sports cars and premier production-based GT cars. The race will be broadcast on ESPN2.

“For years we have received numerous inquiries from fans and competitors on when we would race at VIR, I’m proud to say that time is now,” said Scott Atherton, ALMS President and CEO.

“Virginia International Raceway is an excellent addition to what no doubt will be a fantastic 2012 season for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Given VIR’s history and acclaim as a world-class road racing facility, this is a natural fit. We look forward to working closely with the VIR team to introduce their fans and lots of new ones to the fastest, toughest and most entertaining competition VIR has witnessed.”

The history book at VIR is ripe with the biggest names in North American road racing. Built in 1957, the track played host to its first race in August of that year – an SCCA event that attracted the likes of Carroll Shelby, Bob Holbert, Carl Haas and more. VIR also played host to the first IMSA GT race in 1971 – Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg drove a Porsche 914-6 to a victory over Dave Heinz’s Corvette. Gregg and Haywood also won in the 1972 IMSA GT race at VIR.

Competitors over the years have heaped praise on the circuit. Paul Newman once opined that “if there’s a heaven on Earth, it’s VIR.” Car and Driver named it one of the six best road courses in the U.S. and called a lap around the Grand Course the closest thing in America to a lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

“The list of drivers and manufacturers who have achieved success at VIR is a storied one,” Atherton said. “We are thrilled at the prospect of ushering in a new era of competition at VIR as the first series to run its Grand Course. The sights and sounds of our prototype and GT cars racing at high speeds around such a demanding and picturesque layout will create a spectacle no one should miss.”

The track closed in 1974 but reopened in 2000 after New York real estate developer and vintage racer Harvey Siegel acquired the track property in 1998. In addition to a repaving and widening of the circuit, VIR added resort facilities that include three hotel and multiple dining options. The track plays host to numerous events during the course of a season including sports cars, motorcycles and karting.

“Virginia International Raceway and our partners in the surrounding communities are thrilled to witness the incomparable show that will be delivered by the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and IMSA’s top-flight development championships,” said Connie Nyholm, managing partner of VIR.” To be able to give our fans and sponsors the leaders in cutting edge racing technology and the Global Leader in Green Racing, competing at speeds never seen at our historic track is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Along with the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda, USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda and the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX5 Cup will compete on the weekend.

Tickets for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón race at VIR on Sept. 15 will be available at VIRnow.com beginning Feb. 1.

The 2012 American Le Mans Series season gets underway with the 60th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 17. It also will mark the first race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Visit sebringraceway.com for details on tickets and accommodations.

The annual Sebring Winter Test is scheduled for Feb. 8-9 at Sebring International Raceway. Tickets are $10 with no paddock access granted.

Source: American Le Mans Series

 

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