VIR - The Underdog of US Road Courses

Porsche 911 RSR GTE Virginia International Raceway VIR Automobilista 2.png
Many associate racing in the United States with ovals, which is no surprise considering the weight the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 carry for IndyCar and NASCAR, respectively. However, the country has some of the best road courses in the world - but one that is rarely mentioned in this discussion is Virginia International Raceway.

While street circuits are popular in the US, the permanent road tracks in the States are nothing to scoff at, either: Road America, Road Atlanta or Mid-Ohio are just a few examples of undulating, flowing circuits with a certain old-school charm to them. Others, like Riverside in California, have been lost to redevelopment of the land they were once located on. Such a fate was avoided for VIR - and that is a good thing.

Located just north of the border to North Carolina, VIR was first opened in 1957 and quickly became a staple in US road racing, hosting the SCCA National Sports Car Championship from 1957 to 1964, and the IMSA GT Championship in 1971 and 1972. The 3.27-mile (5.26 km) course was fast and flowing, winding its way through the elevation changes of the land it was built on. It had one flaw that would prove almost fatal, however - and that was its location.

The United States' southeast was and still is stock car racing country, and as a result, VIR could not consistently draw enough spectators. The oil crisis of 1973 and 1974 did not help operations at the track either, and the facility closed at the end of the 1974 season. After that, the circuit lay dormant for almost 26 years.


VIR Returns​

The new millenium meant new life for VIR, though: Investors had bought the circuit and intended to turn it into a club racing track, leading to renovations and even the addition of new track configurations, raising the number of layouts from one to three - later, three more would be added. IMSA returned to VIR in 2014 with a GT-only race and has come back each year since.

Sim racers likely know the track from iRacing, where a rescanned and updated version has been added to the pool of free content in late 2022. Automobilista 2 also features the track within its stock content, plus as part of the Reiza Pack for rFactor 2 and a mod version for Assetto Corsa, making it possible for sim racers to experience the track for themselves.

VIR racingcircuits.info track map.png

VIR's Full Course layout is still the same as it was when the track opened in 1957. Image credit: racingcircuits.info

It is a wild ride, though: The main straight (which is not entirely straight) leads into a tricky braking zone for turn 1, known as the Horseshoe, and exiting the first sector, the Snake and the esses leading to South Bend are thrilling in any car. One of the track's signature corners has unfortunately lost its trademark - Oak Tree used to have a namesake tree right inside the apex, with its branches even hanging over the circuit, but a storm knocked it over in 2013.

While the characteristic tree may be gone, this does not detract from the hair-raising time sim racers can have when driving the circuit, especially in cars with plenty of power at their disposal. Be careful, though: Run-off may be plentiful in many places, but it consists almost exclusively of grass, making off-track excursions rather treacherous - especially in the rain.

iRacing VIR Pit Exit Start Finish.jpg

Sparse, but green: VIR has that old-school feel, just like many of the top road racing circuits in the US. Image credit: iRacing

Your Thoughts​

Have you given VIR a shot already? What are your favorite parts of the circuit? Let us know in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Amazing track, I've had a fair share of great races in there with different types of cars. And Oak Tree is one of the toughest corner sequences that I've ever tackled in any virtual track, and always springs to mind when somebody asks for the hardest corners in racing around the world.
 
Premium
Many associate racing in the United States with ovals, which is no surprise considering the weight the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 carry for IndyCar and NASCAR,

Many need to start watching IMSA then :p Besides the big races with prototypes and GT cars, the MX-5 cup races are some of the best out there.


As for VIR in the sim, my go to is the great mod in AC hosted on here. As a US sim racer, it's great having so many iconic US tracks done in such high quality, and hosted on RD, so we can use them in the AC club races :)
 
Loads of ace tracks like this in the US, as I brit I knew about Laguna, Road America, Sebring, Long Beach, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, ViR one of the lesser known tracks this side of the pond along with Barber motorsports, Mid Ohio.

Out of them it's only Road Atlanta and Barber that hasn't had an official PC sim version as far as I know (I know I had Road Atlanta in Forza 3).
 
American tracks can be very boring IMO
The greenery all over this track is just ridiculous :roflmao:
it's very funny in rainy condition though, it's like holiday on ice but with cars :roflmao::roflmao::roflmao:
 
Club Staff
Premium
I actually like NOLA as well.

However, one track I like even better than VIR (though, I can see the arguments of why VIR is great due to the length of the track and different layouts). But, Barber Motorsport Park is a track I really love!

I'll also argue that there is one track that extremely few have heard of, that's really fun to drive. Pittsburg International Race Complex.
aSPhr3O.jpg
It might look quite... uninspiring, but what the overview pictures and track maps doesn't show is the elevation-changes.
txyCIu9.jpg


It's a great hidden gem, which we have used in the rFactor 2 Racing Club at RaceDepartment!
The track can be found in the rF2 workshop here
The track can also be found for Assetto Corsa at RaceDepartment, here it's a rare thing though. The track have actually been converted from rFactor 2 and over to AC. Not the other way as is more normal! :)

Enjoy racing at PittRace!
 
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i always bounce off of VIR simply because its one of those tracks where you have just so big gras fields left and right and it makes it for me difficult to properly gauge the track itself, i dont know how to describe it, but i just dont feel at home there, its too open everything, i feel too exposed for a lack of a better word.
i prefer tracks where the scenery of what you see changes during the lap, where the track hugs you as a driver, in VIR you always look at a line of trees and everything is so wide and open and the layout is kind of TOO flowing for my liking.
i am sure i will get hate for this, but its just not my type of track, whereas i do love the likes or Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring.
 
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Have a lot of fun with this track in AMS 1 as well, where it is stock content.

MX-5 Cup always produces a cracking race around VIR. They can race two-by-two through corners no other class can!
MX-5 Cup can produce a cracking race anywhere. It is one of my favourite series to sit down, watch, and just enjoy without fail. As someone else on this thread has said, it's incredible.

I also discovered VIR pretty recently in AMS 1, and it has quickly become one of my favourite tracks out there. The section from Snake up to Oak Tree is just an incredible section of s-bends and elevation. I love it.
 
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It’s a terrific track, very challenging to master and also lots of fun. VIR is another reason why I think, more and more, that the United States probably has the most amazing road courses anywhere. Think about it: Laguna Seca, Road America, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Sebring, Virginia and even COTA, all in the same country.

On a completely unrelated subject: could the administators of this site remove the Overtake video ad, please? It’s getting really annoying by now. Thanks.
 
One of my favourites in iRacing, which has a brilliant collection of laser scanned US tracks. It just got a complete rescan (sans tree) and looks better than ever. iRacing also offers the various layouts using the inner sections, which can either shorten or lengthen the lap quite dramatically. It's on the Skip Barber schedule this week, if I remember correctly.
 

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