Rarely do racing fans get an opportunity to see a number of racing legends that have won championships across a wide spectrum of racing series gather at one venue to compete against each other.
Area racing fans will get that opportunity Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton when the legendary road course hosts the American Racing Legends Charity Pro-Am Presented by Racer Magazine.
The American Racing Legends Charity Pro-Am Presented by Racer Magazine will get the green flag at 1 p.m. Saturday. It is being held in conjunction with the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races and professional road racing featuring the Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli.
While events such as this are big for racing fans, it is also big for the competing drivers. Jeb Burton of Halifax, who has competed in all three of NASCAR’s top national touring series and has competed at VIR in the past, says he is excited to be a part of the event that also has his dad, Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, competing as well.
“I’m excited to get up there (to VIR) and be a part of it,” Burton said.
“(SportsCar Vintage Racing Association CEO) Tony Parella and everybody associated with the Pro-Am is doing a great job and are really prepared for this event. There will be a lot of legends of the sport there and other good drivers as well. I’m looking forward to getting there and hopefully we can put on a good show for everybody.”
Burton says he is looking forward to meeting the many racing legends that will be competing in the event, especially those he has not met.
“I’m looking forward to mingling with and getting to know the legends and racing hard with them,” he remarked.
“I hope I can go there, be fast and maybe win that thing. That would be cool.”
The VIR NASCAR charity pro-am race will benefit IGNITE – the Autism Society of North Carolina’s community center for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome. IGNITE was founded by The Evernham Family Racing for a Reason Foundation – a nonprofit established by legendary NASCAR crew chief Ray Evernham and his family.
“This race is definitely for a good cause to help IGNITE and Ray Evernham and everything he and his family are doing,” Burton said.
“I think it should be really good. We’re going to put on a heck of a show.”
The professional racing legends will be paired with an amateur driver for the race that will go for 50 minutes over VIR’s 3.27-mile full course. Competitors will be driving late 1960s and early 1970s muscle cars. Burton said he is expected to be competing in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
“All the cars should be pretty much equal,” Burton pointed out.
“They will be on bias-play tires, so they will be sliding around. We’ll be driving the heck out of those things.”
Not only will Burton enjoy the experience of competing against some of American racing’s biggest names, he will have another unique experience - one he is very much looking forward to - the opportunity to compete against his father in the same race on the same track.
“Dad hasn’t driven a stock car since Daytona in 2012 when he raced my Truck,” he noted.
“It’s going to be fun to have him out there. I hope I can beat him. We’ve never done this before. We’ve never raced on the same track together before, and I’m looking forward to doing that. I think he will get up to speed quickly and won’t have any problems.”
Other top former racing stars who have entered the event include well-known popular NASCAR champion crew chief Ray Evernham, NASCAR Cup Series champions Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., road racing stars Boris Said, Ron Fellows, Max Papis and Dorsey Schroeder. NASCAR standouts Greg Biffle, Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday, Johnny Benson, Jack Sprague, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Willy T. Ribbs also are scheduled to compete.
Advance tickets priced at $10 for a single day up to $25 for three days will be available until Thursday at 5 p.m. After that time, ticket prices will increase by $10.
There will be a Charity Fan Autograph Session at The Pavillion on Saturday from 10:45 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. A pre-race Fan Walk will be held on pit road from 11:50 a.m. until 12:55 p.m. The American Racing Legends Charity Pro-Am will get the green flag at 1:10 p.m. and will go until 1:55 p.m.
Fans also will see the professional drivers in the Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli in action in a pair of races on Saturday. A race for the TA2 class will get the green flag at 10:55 a.m. and go for 31 laps or 75 minutes. Later, at 5:35 p.m., there will be a race for the TA, TA3 and TA4 classes, with that race also going for 31 laps or 75 minutes.
Throughout the day on Saturday there will be qualifying and sprint races for the vintage racers.
Vintage racing will be featured all day Sunday, including a pair of enduro races. A Vintage/Classic Enduro will be held Sunday from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. that will include one pit stop. Later, at 1:05 p.m., there will be a Historic GTP/GT Enduro race that will go for 90 minutes and include two pit stops. Eight 30-minute feature races for various classes of vintage racers will be held throughout the day on Sunday.