Study finds racetrack has $237 million economic impact

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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A sports-car championship scheduled for Aug. 17-19 is expected to attract
40,000 visitors to the track. Photo courtesy VIR

VIRginia International Raceway in Alton is busy with some event almost every day of the year. And that activity boosts the economy.

Each year VIR generates $237 million in total economic impact in the state, with $197 million or 83 percent of that occurring in the local region, according to a study released in April by The Washington Economics Group Inc.

“A vast majority of our impact comes from outside the area, visitation,” says Connie Nyholm, VIR’s owner and CEO. “That’s what makes it different from tracks such as South Boston [Speedway].”

About 270,000 visitors attend VIR events each year, and most stay for several days in the area.

In addition to racing events, VIR’s two tracks also are rented to a variety of organizations. The tracks can be rented simultaneously with five different configurations available. “We have 360 rentals in a year,” Nyholm says. “Our business daily is renting racetracks.”

VIR also has two skeet ranges “as well as pistol and rifle ranges from 50 to 1,000 yards, which is sniper range,” Nyholm says. “We use those primarily for government and military groups. That keeps us very busy.”

VIR is also rented for corporate team-building and entertainment events as well as weddings and bachelor parties.

“It’s like a three-ring circus,” says Nyholm. “In addition to the racetracks, we have two restaurants, unlimited catering, go-karting, off-road trails, a spa and the shooting facilities.”

VIR has an industrial park with tenants such as the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation, a company affiliated with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

The raceway’s largest spectator event is the Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will be held Aug. 17-19 this year.

“That’s the biggest weekend of the year. It brings in 40,000 visitors over a three-day period. Governor Northam will be our grand marshal this year,” Nyholm says.

VIR recently landed the 2019 Sports Car Club of America National Championship Runoffs, which will be held Oct. 8-13 next year. “It’s the largest race group, and they have that race all over the country. It’s their Super Bowl runoffs,” Nyholm says. “We put our name in the hat a couple of years ago and secured the runoff for 2019. It’s huge. It will bring in thousands ... It will be bigger than anything we have had here. This is a new marker in the history of VIR.”

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