VIR - 1956 Announcement - Newspaper Article

Virginia International Raceway - Aug 16, 1956

Danville Register, Aug 16, 1956

Milton May Become Center of Sports Car Racing In the U.S.
4-Mile Track Being Built In This Area
Project Cost May Run Near $250,000

  The property owners and the officials of the new sports car race track met yesterday at the Halifax County site to announce the project settle the final details. J. B. Foote and his twin brother, J. A. Foote (from left) owners of the land, are pictured with the racing club officers; R. G. Snyder, Ed Welch, Dr. Hooper Johnson, and Ed Kemm.

Imagine 100,000 people at Milton N. C.! But if plans for an international road-racing track near the North Carolina community work out as the promoters say they will, then the day may not be far away when 100,000 or more racing fans flood into this area for the big events.

The first public announcement of the project was made yesterday by the officials of the sponsoring organization - Sports Car Enterprises of Virginia, Inc. The track, a 3.6-mile long twisting, turning asphalt trail, will be known as the "Virginia International Raceway."

The site is 10 miles east of Danvile, just inside the Halifax County line and just over the North Carolina line from Milton. The property is being leased from J. B. and J. A. Foote who own some 1,200 acres in the area. The track lies in a long, sweeping bend of the Dan River and can be reached from either Milton or a Rt. 58 turn-off south of the river.

Officials yesterday said that while the initial investment will "run close to $100,000" that eventually the cost may approach the $250,000 figure.

Plans call for parking space for 50,000 cars and an airstrip is to be constructed to make it easier to get in to the track.

The Atlantic and Danville Railroad also runs close to the site and could possibly be used to bring spectators and racing cars in the future.

Ed Welch of Winston-Salem, N. C., president of the new track organization, explained yesterday that the first consideration will be for the drivers. "After we get the track in shape to race we can start worrying about taking care of the spectators," he commented. Welch added that sport car racing is "strictly amateur."

"There are no cash prizes " he said. "We race for the enjoyment and thrills."

The vice president of the new group is Dick Snyder of Martinsville. Other officers of the operation include Ed Kemm of Greensboro, N.C., chairman of the board of directors; and secretary-treasurer Dr. Hooper Johnson, a physician at N.C Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.

Welch, himself licensed by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) as a racing driver, said the principal purpose of building e 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 will seek to obtain the southeastern regional races of the SCCA, with a tentative date of Oct. 14.

Welch added that the group will aim at staging a major intern tional event next spring with sanction of the FIA, principal governing body of international auto competition. The only sports car race held in the United States at present is the annual event at Sebring, Fla.

According to Welch, the new track will be the only one of its kind In the eastern part of the United States. He said the only comparable tracks for sport car road-racing are located in Wisconsin and California.

The new course, which has been under construction without fanfare for about three weeks, is nearly ready for paving. The 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 100 miles per hour.

The boot-shaped raceway is overlooked by a hill which commands a view of the entire course. Welch says that vantage point would accomodate approximately 30,000 spectators. He estimated that the entire course could ac-comodate 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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