Virginia International Raceway – Alton, VA.
“If there’s a Heaven on Earth, it’s VIR” – Paul Newman
My husband’s obsession with driving – fast – started when he was in his early teens but truly only materialized about 10 years ago. Him being a knowledgeable and well respected auto mechanic and having his own garage, helps and always helped to navigate in the world of racing. He has been coming down here a few times a year to feed his speed demon and once in a while we tag along.
Reason #1: VIR is situated on 1300 acres! I wish they would steal my excellent idea of making a walking path around the track and vicinity, which could give us at least a 5 mile long loop (I think it would be closer to 8). Most wives would use it, I have no doubt about that.
There are several different configurations of walking paths we could take so I will actually combine 3 of them into one post, especially regarding the pictures.
The racetrack itself also has six possible configurations. This weekend with the Porsche club they are driving on the Full Course (3.27 mile long).
We climb up the little hill from the North paddock towards the west – this is the location of the covered false grid – and take an early morning shot at the hazy track with the emerging sun casting an orange glow on the horizon.
Heading south following the fence towards the corner worker’s station to wait for the first cars on the track before the “Hog pan” (it’s turn #17). This section is called the “Roller coaster”. Sitting on the spectator’s wooden bleachers we wait for the cars to drive down. They seem slow but probably doing 70-100 mph in these turns. Total elevation change is 130 ft through the course and the “Roller Coaster” is downhill all the way.
Here is a pic of the course to help with visualization.
After taking a few pics and a video, we are heading east, following the tree line and the fence. There is no way cutting over the track at this point so we are going back towards the entry road after crossing the bridge overhead the track. Passing by one of the burgundy track buildings (The gallery) on the right and the Patriot course on the left.
The grass is so dewy, our feet are soaking wet. I am glad I keep my boots in the car at all times.
Keeping on the right side of the paved road (North paddock lane), even though that’s against my common sense. The grassy side is much larger here and traffic is scarce being inside the track. Watching where I step since this area is home to lots of different mushrooms/fungi – mostly bed guys, concerning colors – giving me great photo opportunities.
These plant and flower pics below are from all over the area.
After passing the entrance on our left with the guard house peeking at us on the top of the hill we continue on a slight uphill next to South paddock lane. Following the right turn we pass by the gates to the main event exit on the left. There is a huge wooden arch here which used to have a sign: “The taming of the shrew” but it was taking off for some unknown reason to me.
The ground is covered with pink petals and I found that the other side of the chainlink fence is overgrown with kudzu.
Few more steps and we have reached the famous Oak tree turn (#12). Unfortunately the iconic tree has fallen in 2013 caused by lightning. It was planted in 1957 and was integrated into the track’s design. Here is a short video from the corner worker’s entrance. The back straight shows well here.
We have a seat on one of the bleachers for a few minutes just before we would reach the South paddock.
There is no way out from here following the track through the paddock so we are turning back and walk until we get back to just before Plantation road (I would say 1/2 mile). We turn right following the tree line and walk up towards the tavern, within the “abandoned allee”.
We always like to follow the furthest point out, to cover more ground so we – again – keeping right and circle around the pool towards the back of the Tavern. Before making a full loop we keep right again into the woods but still on the offroad trail. This path will take us down towards The Lodge, snaking through the forest. Several abandoned buildings give me great opportunity to use my camera.
Walking past an old the hay barn, we turn towards the right once more, dodging some picnic tables before reaching the small meadow just below The Lodge.
Crossing Euro rally road we spot the sign towards the kart track.
We have a seat at the fence on a picnic table and wait for daddy to take the track in the Black Mamba. These turns coincidently called the snake. We don’t have to wait long. He is last in the row of cars in this video, putting through the turns in his ’95 M3 BMW.
Climbing back onto the road, we walk faster over the bridge to stay out of trouble. Since it’s already pretty warm we speed through- pun intended – the spectator viewing and parking area towards the Skid pad. Crossing the road to leave space to the tractor that is cutting grass, we head towards the lake under the well deserved shade of trees.
We have made it back! Close to melting but happily back in the shade of our little group’s tents. Some water and a seat in our favorite ‘zero gravity’ chair and we’ll glue ourselves back together in no time.
Here are some extra pics.
Horse wind vane on top of the administration building.
On the way home….