Racecars of just about every color of a rainbow were speeding around the 3.27-mile road course at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton Wednesday.
Grouped through 28 different classes, Sports Car Club Of America drivers racing cars ranging from compact cars to open-wheel cars, to big-bore, high horsepower GT cars were trying to post qualifying times for starting positions for this weekend’s series of national championship races in the SCCA Runoffs.
Meanwhile, drivers and team members of the rest of the more than 600 cars entered in the event scurried about, making repairs and preparing their cars for the series of winner-take-all national championship races that begin Friday morning at the famous road course.
With cars and teams stretching from the North Paddock, through the skid pad, and throughout the fields all the way up to the track’s Patriot Building, the SCCA Runoffs is the biggest participant event ever held at VIR.
“Even though this is a big event, it doesn’t feel as big,” said VIR chief operating officer Kerrigan Smith.
“SCCA National has done this event before, and they have the plan. All they’re doing is bringing it to a new facility. We know our facility. They know their product. Us working together made it really, really easy.
“People know what they’re doing,” Smith continued.
“They go about their routines. For us out here on our property, there is not a whole lot of politics. People are hopefully enjoying the weather, enjoying the new venue and are enjoying the property. It feels like a really big family, which I love.”
It has taken a lot of planning and work from Smith, chief executive officer and owner Connie Nyholm and the entire VIR staff to make the SCCA Runoffs a success.
Smith said the Sports Car Club Of America staff has been very good to work with throughout the entire process.
“It is people working together,” he explained.
“It’s everybody enjoying one of the biggest grassroots racing motorsports events in America. It’s awesome.”
The SCCA Runoffs™ have brought a small army of people to VIR and the surrounding areas, ranging from the drivers, the teams of support crew for the cars and drivers, to the nearly 500 volunteer workers from 37 states, four Canadian provinces and abroad, and the VIR staff.
With the size of the event, the VIR staff had to make some adjustments.
“For us, it was thinking more about the participant crowd being bigger than a spectator crowd,” Smith explained.
“It’s a longer-duration stay, more use of the facility, more trash generated and more use and wear and tear on the track. It’s about how are we going to maintain this, how are we going to support this event and make it to where it feels very fluid and feels very refined to the guests that are here.”
As far as VIR having the opportunity to host the SCCA Runoffs™ in the future, that will be decided at a later time.
“They (SCCA national officials) have to go through the process of one event with us before they will sit there and ever say if they would continue this relationship with us,” Smith said.
“We need to stay focused on this one and deliver all the way to the end, before we can start talking about any future events.”