VIR

From powerful racers such as these International GT cars to small compact racers, fans attending the SCCA Runoffsat VIRginia International Raceway at Alton Oct. 6-13 will see a wide variety of racers competing across 28 competition classes. Over 600 entries have been received for the national event.

Sports Car Club of America’s top race drivers will converge on VIRginia International Raceway October 6-13 for over a week’s worth of winner-take-all sports car road racing in the SCCA Runoff.

The SCCA Runoffs will be the biggest event to be held at the famous road course at Alton, featuring over 600 entries competing in 28 classes of cars ranging from delicate-appearing formula cars to thundering stock cars and everything in between.

This event will feature a full week of practice, qualifying and racing over the historic 3.27-mile road course.

Testing and practice begin Friday morning and will continue through Monday with select classes running each day. Qualifying sessions begin Tuesday at 8 a.m. with all classes running each day leading up to the drama of the races.

There will be three full days of races, beginning at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Oct. 11, and continuing through the final race on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 13. Every race day begins at 8 a.m. with the National Anthem, followed by the first race flagging off at 8:15 a.m. and the other races following in order.

With more than 600 entries that include drivers and teams from across the country, the event requires an army of supporters — from the teams of support crew for the cars and drivers to nearly 500 volunteer workers from 37 states and four Canadian provinces in the myriad specialties that go into putting on a race of this magnitude.

Corner flag marshals are the most obvious, wearing their white outfits and waving flags to warn drivers of hazards in front of them and reporting back to Race Control and the Stewards by radio.

Tech inspectors make sure the cars are safe and legal. Timing and scoring officials determine race results. Stewards interpret and enforce the rules, and there are other specialties including fire safety.

Grid marshals make sure the starting lineups are correct. Pit marshals oversee action on pit road, and race control keeps an eye on the entire event.

Add in the various track employees, wrecker drivers, firemen, paramedics, guest services and others, and there may well be over 1,000 support staff at the track supporting the racers and spectators.

VIR chief operating officer Kerrigan Smith says he is eager to “get the SCCA boots on the ground and become passengers on this wonderful event.”

He added that the surrounding local communities will be supporting an estimated five people per every car that is entered, making it about 3,000-plus people with lodging, food, shopping and other needs for the week.

“We are looking to hear from the communities with all the workers [including crew and others] coming in,” Smith said.

“It’s going to be interesting. We want to learn a lot about the facility. This is going to be a great test for VIR to see how we can handle the crowds.”

With the pressure of winning the most important race of the year for the honor of being a national champion, the competitive juices flow freely at the SCCA Runoff, and close races are the norm.

The Sports Car Club of America’s heritage goes back to seeing Indy car racers Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti, and various show biz celebs all the way up to Paul Newman, who won a couple of championships before moving on to professional road racing, where he also had success, competing for national championships.