Took off early Friday morning for a two-hour ride down past Danville to Alton, Virginia — home of Virginia International Raceway (VIR) — but that two hour motorcycle ride was really a trip into my past more than 40 years ago.
VIR was one of many sports car tracks in the nation in the late 1960s when I first visited to write a story for The Roanoke Times. I would return many times in that decade — sometimes to take photos and sometimes to drive on the twisting, 3.5 mile course.
The track closed in the early 70s and rotted away for decades until a New York developer bought it in the late 1990s and reopened in March 2000, using a “country club” model where track memberships are sold and luxury condos are developed as part fo the property.
Today, the track thrives as a venue for both amateur and professional events and also serves as a test track for NASCAR teams looking to hone their road racing skills.
Although the track is located in Virginia, you have to drive into North Carolina and through Milton to get to the track entrance. Tree-lined paved lanes have replaced the dusty lanes and the paddock area is all asphalt, gravel and well-kept buildings and garages — a far cry from the dusty pits and run down grandstands of the 60s.
My visit Friday was a two-for-one return to the past. The Potomac Region of the Porsche Club of America holds a drivers’ education weekend at the track on Labor Day. I drove a Porsche for many of our 23 years in the Washington area and I served as President of the PCA chapter in2000 and as chief steward of the DE program for three years.
Like VIR, the Porsche Club had changed too. I didn’t recognize many of the faces but did connect with a few friends to talk about the 80s and 90s when Amy and I belonged to the region.
A pleasant trip into the past.