Virginia International Raceway is about to embark on a new spectator season that helps to drive tourism traffic to the Dan River Region.
While the road course is located in Halifax County, spectators for large events often lodge in Danville. That provides a boost to the local economy with more people spending money and eating out.
VIR kicks off its spectator season this weekend with the Haltech Hyperfest presented by GRM. That event, running Friday through Sunday, is one of the largest motorsports festivals on the East Coast, according to a news release.
Activities include road racing, car shows, ride-alongs, obstacle courses, karting, a kid zone and live music.
“When our visitors are not enjoying the action on the track at VIR they will want to spill out into our communities and take advantage of our unique shopping, dining and attractions,” Lisa Meriwether, tourism manager for the city of Danville, said in a statement. “Sharing this information with our area businesses will ensure they are well staffed, stocked and ready to provide great customer service to our guests during these high-profile events.”
VIR also is part of the new newly created Virginia Motorsports Heritage Trail. The trail — a project created by the Virginia Tourism Corporation — aims to connect travelers with the state’s racing history.
“We are very excited to be a part of the Virginia Motorsport Heritage Trail,” Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of VIR, said in a statement. “With the deep racing history throughout the state, it makes perfect sense to have all the information in one location for race fans from near and far.”
There are about 20 tracks across the commonwealth that are part of the trail.
In addition, VIR recently received $20,000 from the state tourism group specifically for the Racing Lovers Grand Prix IMSA race. It’s part of more than $2.7 million awarded around the commonwealth.
That race draws tens of thousands of fans from across the East Coast, providing a boost to Southern Virginia’s economy, the release stated.
“We’re honored Virginia Tourism has found such value in our IMSA race and they’ve chosen us worthy of this grant as part of their partnership for the Virginia Is For Racing Lover’s Grand Prix” Nyholm said.
VIR attracts an estimated 270,000 visitors to the raceway each year, bringing a local economic impact of more than $197 million to the region, the Register & Bee has previously reported.
The weekend of May 20-22 is designed for two-wheel fans with the MotoAmerica Superbikes racing back to the area. Next month, the Fanatec SRO GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS will take place June 17-19. That’s billed as “bringing the upper echelon of GT sports car racing to VIR,” the release stated.
“We’re so fortunate to have one of the most sought-after race tracks right in our backyard,” said LaTonya Hamilton, director of Halifax County Tourism. “2022 is set to be VIR’s biggest year yet and that gives local business owners an incredible opportunity for increased exposure and foot traffic. Being aware and knowledgeable of the events can aid in preparation and ensuring these visitors return again and again.”