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Car and Driver VIR “Lightning Laps” Feature Debuts in November Issue

Alton, Va. (October 2) – The November 2006 issue of Car and Driver magazine, available on newsstands now, introduces a new, ongoing feature that will make VIRginia International Raceway a part of the magazine’s data–gathering process for high–performance vehicles.

Called “Lightning Laps,̵ the program is designed to more fully document the capabilities of high–performance vehicles by including a lap of VIR’s 4.2–mile Grand Course as a supplement to the magazine’s testing procedures.

In late August, a team of writers and photographers from Car and Driver descended on VIR with a fleet of 17 new high–performance cars, ranging from a Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged and Volkswagen GTI to a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Ford GT. All the cars were driven around the VIR Grand Course at speed, and lap times recorded.

The magazine plans to make similar visits to VIR once or twice each year for semi–annual “Lightning Laps” visits.

“The “Lightning Laps” program provides us with a way to measure vehicle performance that combines acceleration, braking and handling in one number,” said Car and Driver technical director Larry Webster. “We were looking for a way to supplement to our already exhaustive test procedures for high–performance cars, and this helps us provide more of a real–world benchmark of a car’s capabilities.”

The genesis of the idea came from Europe, where car manufacturers customarily take high–performance cars to Germany’s legendary 12.9–mile Nürburgring circuit, considered the world’s toughest road racing track, to record lap times as a testament to their cars’ capabilities. A lap at the Nürburgring is considered an industry standard among manufacturers, and Car and Driver had the idea to institute such a standard in America.

In looking for a suitable venue in America, the Car and Driver staff settled on VIR and chose the Grand Course over the traditional 3.27–mile VIR Full Circuit because it more closely resembled the Nürburgring.

“The choice to use VIR for our “Lightning Laps” program was pretty simple,” said Webster. “It is one of the most challenging road racing circuits in America. It has everything – high–speed and low–speed sections, dramatic elevation changes and a variety of camber changes. It really challenges a car’s suspension. There are no standard 90–degree corners at VIR; every aspect of the track has something tricky with which a car and driver must contend.”

“It’s a classic, old–style, high–speed racing circuit,” Webster continued. “Today’s new, computer–designed road courses just don’t measure up to what a guy walking through a field could envision back in the day.”

According to track general manager Josh Lief, for VIR to have been chosen for the Car and Driver “Lightning Laps” program is a singular honor.

“To even be mentioned in the same breath with the Nürburgring is phenomenal,” Lief said. “We very much appreciate being recognized by Car and Driver, and we look forward to having them back on a regular basis in the years to come.”

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Virginia, just north of historic Milton, North Carolina. In addition to its 3.27 mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, a sales showroom for high–end collector and racing cars; Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8 mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27–room trackside hotel; the new VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/lodging units and garages; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

For more information on VIRginia International Raceway, visit the track’s website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434–822–7700. For more information on Car and Driver, visit their website at www.caranddriver.com.

John Gardner
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 704.467.1424
Web: www.virclub.com