VIR an incredible asset; promote it like one

To the editor:

The other weekend saw some world-class racing right here in our own backyard, but you would not have known this if you were reading the Danville Register & Bee. Tens of thousands of people were in attendance at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) for the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. Hundreds of thousands more watched this weekend’s racing televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.

VIR owner Connie Nyholm recently announced that the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship will be back at VIR for another four years, which is great news for our area. Racing at VIR brings tens of thousands of people from around the world to Southside Virginia to watch and participate in some of the best sportscar road course racing anywhere on the planet. Thousands more watch various VIR racing events on national TV or stream it online.

Racing at VIR is a very big deal for our region. Moreover, VIR as it is a valuable part of Southside Virginia’s economy. Former Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders proclaimed that “VIR is a huge contributor to Danville’s economy,” and he is correct. VIR’s economic impact is about $200 million a year.

We constantly hear the refrain “What can we do to better promote Southside Virginia?”, yet our local news media virtually ignores one of the biggest opportunities to shine a spotlight on our region, not only regionally, but nationally.

VIR will be hosting the SCCA Runoffs from Oct. 8-13, unofficially known as the “Olympics of Amateur Sports Car Racing.” VIR is now one of only 10 tracks in the United States that has hosted the SCCA Runoffs (this includes racetracks like Daytona and Indianapolis). October’s race is another really big deal for not just VIR, but for Southside Virginia.

Here’s hoping that the Register & Bee and other local media will not miss the opportunity to embrace racing at VIR and produce several feature articles promoting this October racing series. Maybe the local press can even send a reporter and photographer to cover the racing!

The late actor Paul Newman, who also was a winning race car driver, once said, “If there is a heaven on Earth, it is VIR.” Being called heaven on Earth by an Academy Award-winning actor can only be a good thing for our community.



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