VIR - 1956 Construction - Press Release

Virginia International Raceway - August 15, 1956

Sports Car Road Course Being Built in Virginia

Winston-Salem Journal, August 15, 1956
By Hank Schoolfield, Photo by Ray Brokaw

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PLANNING SESSION - Officers of Sports Car Enterprises of Virginia, Inc., look over plans for new Virginia International Raceway near Danville. Left to right are secretary-treasurer Dr. Hooper Johnson of Winston-Salem, board of directors chairman Ed Kemm of Greensboro, and president Ed Welch of Winston-Salem. [click photo for larger version]

A road course for sports car races, pictured by its designers as a future international motorsport mecca, is nearing completion near Danville, Va.

First public announcement that the Virginia International Raceway was under construction came yesterday from Ed Welch of Winston-Salem. He is president of Sports Car Enterprises of Virginia, Inc., which is building the 3.6-mile asphalt course on a 1,700-acre tract 10 miles east of Danville.

Other officers of the corporation Include Ed Kemm of Greensboro, chairman of the board of directors, and secretary-treasurer Dr. Hooper Johnson, a physician at Baptist Hospital here.

Welch, himself licensed by the Sports Car Club of A merica (SCCA) as a racing driver, said the principal purpose in building the track is "to set up major sports car races in this part of the country."

He said the corporation hoped to stage its first race in mid-October. It is tentatively planning to stage the Southeastern Regional races of the SCCA on Oct. 14.

Welch added that he would aim for a major international event next spring with the sanction of the FIA, principal governing body of international auto competition. The only such race held in the United States at present is the annual event at Sebring, Fla.

The new course, which has been under construction without fanfare for some time, is nearly ready for paving. Its road is graded well enough that Welch and other members of the group have already zoomed their sports cars along its dirt surface at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.

The boot-shaped raceway is overlooked by a hill which commands a view of the entire course. Welch said that vantage point would accommodate approximately 30,000 spectators. He estimated that the entire course could accommodate up to half a million.

The asphalt pavement of the road will be 20 feet wide, with eight-foot shoulders. Welch said some straightaways probably would bring speeds up to 150-160 mph by larger cars, with hairpin turns toning them down to 10-15 mph at other points.

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