Virginia International Raceway went a long way to level the playing field for this weekend’s Oak Tree Grand Prix.
While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series raced at the Danville, Va., circuit from 2002 through 2011, and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón competed there in 2012 and 2013, the 3.27-mile circuit was completed repaved and partially widened since last year’s race – among an extensive improvements program.
Circuit officials took care to retain the original racing line of the 3.27-mile circuit that opened in 1971, widening the circuit by six feet at several locations to allow more passing opportunities.
“I loved the way the track was before, but now it’s even better,” said Patrick Long, driver of the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR and a DP winner at the circuit in 2006.
“In the past there were a few sections that were a little too narrow for side-by-side battles. Now, they’ve widened the track in certain sections and changed the curb layout. I think it’s going to bring a whole new flow to the track.”
Tommy Milner, the lone Virginia driver in the TUDOR Championship, is looking forward to experiences the repaved track.
“They’ve made a bunch of changes this year to a number of places,” said Milner, who co-drives the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R with Oliver Gavin. “They’ve repaved the surface and have added some runoff curbing and some room for runoff in some important corners.
“It was always a challenge there to be on the right line or you risked having some big moments. I don’t think they’ve taken any of the challenge away; they’ve made it a little nicer for us on the track for us drivers with multiple classes where you need that extra six inches of road to keep close to your competitors.
“I’m excited to see how that works.”