Racetrack Top 5 (or 6, or 10) lists are all the rage in car mags these days. We've decided to one-up the competition by doing monthly racetrack reviews, starting with one of our all-time favorites, the scenic and courage-testing Virginia International Raceway.
Recently named one of the top six road courses in America by Car & Driver, Randy Pobst (three-time World Challenge GT champion) also listed VIR third on of his list of top tracks in a recent Sportscar story. And for good reason - VIR's 3.27-mile Full Course is nothing short of spectacular, featuring the iconic Oak Tree turn just before the massively long backstraight as well as the pucker-inducing high-speed uphill esses.
But for us it's the aptly named Roller Coaster (turns 14 and 15) and Hog Pen (turns 16 and 17) sections that put the biggest smile on our faces, thanks to the rapid drop in elevation and the off-camber, blind apex right-hander down into Hog Pen. This sequence of turns is a Six Flags-quality thrill ride and the most technically challenging part of the course, where skillfully linking this complex of corners pays big-time speed dividends and helps slingshot you onto the 3,000-foot-long front straight.
But what makes VIR truly special isn't just the racetrack itself. Set in the rolling hills of southern Virginia, the facilities at VIR are beyond top notch, giving it a rich country club feel. There's literally nothing you can't find here, from rental garage space in the paddock to rental condos to a dyno facility, CDOC pro shop fully stocked with all sorts of racing equipment, campgrounds, restaurants and even a spa. Oh, and bring your shotgun, too, because they've got a skeet range where you can imagine the clay pigeon is that geezer in the Mustang who held you up in the corners all day. Pull!
Virginia International Raceway
Location 12 miles east of Danville, Virginia
Track Configuration 4 courses: 1.1-mile Patriot Course, 1.65-mile South Course, 2.25-mile North Course, 3.27-mile Full Course
Facilities Kart track, paddock garages, on-site lodging and camping, bike and golf cart rentals, classrooms, restaurants, race fuel, pro shop, showers, skeet range
Elevation Change 130 feet
Longest Straight 4,000 feet