As you all can see, this past weekend was spent at VIR for their Michelin GT Challenge and many other races that took place over the course of the weekend. This was my first time covering anything at VIR, and it was a great experience. A special thanks goes out to Joe Chandler the long time sports editor here at The Gazette-Virginian, who volunteered his entire weekend to come with me to the track and teach me the ins and outs.
If I were to have gone to VIR solo there is no way that I would have been able to cover all of the action the way I was able to. Joe was able to help explain the types of racing that took place, where to take the best pictures and introduced me to all of the people that help make these races happen.
Even though it was my first time covering this type of racing, I walked away feeling confident that I understood everything that was going on over the weekend.
Here is why this type of racing can be extremely confusing. First off most but not all cars have two drivers that will both have time behind the wheel for each race. When they do their pit stops the drivers will switch, and the race continues seamlessly. You just have to keep up with the car numbers and who was driving and then who is now driving to make sure you can track them on the track.
There are no set numbers of laps in the race. Each race is timed and range from 50 minutes to two hours and 40 minutes. Time runs constantly, even under cautions. When it gets down to around two minutes to go in the race, the next time the leader crosses the start/finish line will be the final lap. Teams judge their pit stops and maneuvers based off of the time on the clock.
There are several classes of cars that participate in a single race. In the Lamborghini Super Trofeo there were three classes I believe, and there were two classes in the other big races as well. That means that a car that finishes in seventh or eighth place overall can still win their class as long as they are in the front of the others in their class. It sounds really confusing, and it was a bit overwhelming at first for me, but I quickly learned who was who and their online scoring color codes of the classes so I could keep up with who was where.
I really wish I had followed this type of racing before heading into there blind like I did but hindsight is 20/20 and even though it took some getting used to I felt good about the weekend.
Joe and I spent about two or three hours there on Friday and would have spent more but rain put a damper on the day. Even though the cars run in the rain, Friday was just a practice day so we headed home. Saturday and Sunday were full of racing all day, and we spent around 10-11 hours each day at the track. By Sunday we were both ready to relax, but we were able to relax knowing that we did a great job covering the races.
Covering these races by yourself can be daunting, considering when you go out on the track to take pictures you really lose a sense of what is going on in the race. If you stay in the media center you can get good stuff for your article, but you lack for pictures. So having Joe take the time out of his weekend to come show me the ropes and have an extra set of hands to keep up with all that was going on was really great.
Even though a lot of the experience was missing with no fans allowed, it was still a great time being able to learn about the track, the racing and everything in between.
I would also recommend that anyone that has never been to VIR to go out there and check out the racing when they begin allowing fans back in. The place is immaculate, and it truly is a diamond in the rough.
Until next time.