ALTON, Va. — Virginia Int’l Raceway, one of America’s premier road courses, is moving forward with plans to improve its facilities, including repaving the 3.27 mile historic road course and widening it in several places, as well as paving in the north paddock this offseason.
In addition, the raceway will further memorialize its iconic oak tree, which fell this summer after serving as a prominent feature and welcome shade provider to the track’s south end for more than 200 years.
Honoring the fallen oak tree, VIR is working with the Virginia Tech University Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to actually clone the tree. The IALR is located in Danville and focuses on using research, education and conferencing to create economic development. Once its work is complete, the cloned saplings will be offered to VIR fans so they can replant them in their own communities and celebrate the iconic old oak tree for years to come. VIR will announce more on timing and purchase opportunities once details are confirmed.
“To be able to honor the grand old oak tree in such a historic and innovative way is really special for us,” said Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of VIR. “We’re so grateful to the IALR for helping us with this and we’re excited to be able to share the cloned tree with VIR fans. Nothing will replace the old tree, but this will serve as a great tribute to it.”
The announcements come at the fourth day of racing at VIR, leading up to today’s appropriately named Oak Tree Grand Prix featuring the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. Fans who bought advanced tickets to the race will receive a limited edition key chain featuring a token made from the original oak tree. Additional memorabilia made from the tree’s wood is planned and will be announced in the weeks and months to follow. As a final nod to the original, VIR will plant a new oak tree near the spot of the fallen one.
The VIR track improvements this off-season will include:
· Repaving the track’s full course, the first time the 3.27 miles have been repaved since 1999 in preparation for VIR’s 2000 reopening
· Widening the track by six feet at several locations to allow easier passing (map available with specific locations)
· Moving of the start and finish line to just after pit row, allowing better viewing for spectators as well as positioning the finish on a wider portion of the track
· Paving of the north paddock, including both previously paved and unpaved portions to ensure an even and smooth surface