VIR looks like a horse farm, or a really big golf course. There’s a nice hotel on the grounds overlooking several corners, a clubhouse/tavern in a huge plantation house, and they’re building townhouse villas near the Oak Tree turn. Pretty cool place.
The track is challenging, there are a lot of turns that simply don’t work the obvious way. In fact there are a few that I never got close to mastering–I’m sure I left a couple of seconds out there on the tarmac. But it was a lot easier to start going faster at VIR than at Road America.
You couldn’t tell that though by my first session on the track. I spun three times–twice in turn four which is an odd left hander that doesn’t seem to have an apex. This same turn played a role in the race as well. Fortunately it’s a low speed corner with lots of runoff. I also spun in turn 14 called the Roller Coaster, which is most definitely NOT a low speed corner, and the grass slopes sharply downhill from the track verge. I went down the hill backwards–briskly. No damage, and I drove back to the track and continued, but it was a long drive back to the track.
My times got better quickly with each practice, as I found that some turns that I was braking hard and downshifting for could actually be taken flat out in fourth–if you did everything perfectly. I did one more very high speed exit off turn 14 with lots of agricultural evidence everywhere in the car, but again no damage.
The organizers put me into group D, which is Sports Racers. No chance of an overall win unless the two fastest cars didn’t show up or took each other out: A Chapparal 1 and a Scarab. Peyote punches a lot over it’s weight, but there’s just no chance with cars like these. The rest of the field was just about as impressive–Jaguar- and Corvette-powered Listers, a Birdcage Maserati, a very sophisticated Lola, Elva’s, Jaguar C type, and a very fast 1958 Corvette. I had my work cut out for me. In fact I went to the organizers and begged to be put into one of the groups that had Triumphs in it. I wanted a chance to race with George Wright, who is a heck of a good driver. But they said “let’s see how you do in Qualifying and we’ll decide then”.
Friday night was the Black and White dinner–very nice. Good food and nice people. I slipped into the pool to cool off. I would have leaped in, but I need to keep the dressing on my ear dry.
I’m not much for sandbagging, and I qualified third with a 2:21:something, so that option was pretty much closed. Diane got me a cool suit to help with the 95 degree weather. What a great thing. I’m certain I was substantially faster just because my head was clearer.
Saturday night we had a party in the Triumph Ghetto. I had moved Nero to another area because I needed more power for the air conditioner. In the Virginia heat and humidity, refrigerated air seemed more important than proximity to friends. Call me fickle. We took the projector and a selection of movies to the party, along with a lot of wine and a little beer. Great time, even though a thunderstorm dumped a huge amount of rain on us for about twenty minutes. We showed Rendezvous and Le Mans. I think we may need to open every movie night with a showing of Rendezvous.
Sunday I woke up feeling fragile again. I didn’t think I drank that much, but something apparently camped out in my mouth. I did the morning warmup and Peyote felt wonderful. We made that magic transition where some corners become a dance move–the cars natural turning rythym clicks with the corner approach. Amazing when it happens. I had it going on three corners, including turn ten, where I’d been struggling.
For the race I resolved to keep the Chaparral and Scarab in sight as long as possible, using them as a mental tow hook to better my time. I stayed with them through the Oak Tree turn, but when they hit the straight it looked like a roadrunner cartoon.