NASCAR stars

NASCAR stars Todd Bodine (left), Bobby Labonte (center) and Johnny Benson (right) share a story prior to last year’s Vintage Race of Champions Charity Pro-Am race at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton. The trio will be among the many racing stars that will compete in this year’s event to be held Saturday at VIR as part of the SVRA Heacock Classic Gold Cup Weekend.

VIRginia International Raceway at Alton is hosting its annual SVRA Heacock Classic Gold Cup Weekend Friday through Sunday, a weekend that will feature the best in vintage racing as well as racing in the Trans-Am Championship presented by Pirelli.

One of the highlights of the weekend will be the Vintage Race of Champions Charity Pro-Am race at 1 p.m. Saturday. Among the stars that are entered in the race are Boris Said, NASCAR stars Bobby Labonte, Todd Bodine, Johnny Benson and Mike Skinner, IndyCar champion Al Unser, Jr., two champions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Davy Jones and Geoff Brabham, and Willy T. Ribbs, the first black driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

The professional drivers will be paired with amateur drivers. The amateurs will start the race and will be required to drive a maximum of seven laps. Cars featured in the race are 1963 to 1972 model vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of SVRA Group 6 A and B Production.

Two 100-mile races are slated Saturday for the Trans-Am Championship presented by Pirelli. Those races include the TA2 powered by AEM race at 10:40 a.m. followed by the multi-class (TA, SuperGT and GT) Trans Am feature at 5:15 p.m.

One of the drivers to keep an eye on in the Saturday morning TA2 powered by AEM race is Harrison Burton, son of former NASCAR star Jeff Burton.

The younger Burton, who has competed full time in the NASCAR Truck Series this season, is entered in the No. 26 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang.

Marc Miller, who drives the No. 40 Prefix Stevens-Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, leads defending TA2 champion Rafa Matos, the driver of the No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro, by 41 points entering Saturday’s TA2 powered by AEM Electronics race.

Scott Lagasse Jr., the driver of the No. 92 SLR/Fields Racing/M1Racecars Chevrolet Camaro, is also entered. Lagasse scored the first TA2 class victory of his career at VIR last season and heads into Saturday’s race coming off of a podium finish at Watkins Glen.

Ernie Francis Jr., the driver of the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang, enters Saturday’s multi-class TA/SuperGT/GT Trans Am feature with a 16-point lead over Chris Dyson who drives the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang.

The Hagerty Cars & Caffeine Show at The Gallery at 10 a.m. Saturday is a longstanding tradition of the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Weekend. It features classic cars, vintage cars and exotic cars and motorcycles and is always a big hit with visitors to VIR.

Fans of vintage racing will see a lot of action spread out throughout the weekend, with qualifying and the first of two rounds of racing for the various vintage racing classes taking place Saturday.

Sunday’s racing action is devoted to the vintage racers with the second round of feature races for the various racing classes and two vintage racing endures on the schedule.

The Vintage/Classic Enduro, a 60-minute race that will include one pit stop, gets the green flag at 8 a.m. Sunday. A Historic/GTP/GT Enduro race that will go for 90 minutes and include two pit stops, will get the green flag Sunday at 2 p.m. An Alfa Romeo Reunion feature race is also among the races set for Sunday, with that race scheduled for 1 p.m.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com