VIR History - Memories - Karl Zorowski

Virginia International Raceway History 1957-74

From Karl Zorowski:

I recently came across your website dedicated to VIR. During the early 1970's I
grew up in a racing family and spent countless weekends at VIR. My father raced
a D-Production Triumph GT6 and later a G-Production Spitfire at both Regional
and National SCCA events at the track. (If you'll note he is listed on the 1973
Nationals Entry List you have posted). Unfortunately I was only 14 when the
track closed, so I never drove the course, although I did take several rides in
the pace car for varoius races. My mother, Sarah (Sally) Zorowski was the chief
registrar for most of the NC Region events at the track from around '71 until
the track's closing. She and her workers would set up shop in the old log cabin
along the dirt road leading into the track, and this building was dubbed "The
Milton Hilton" in honor of the nearby town of Milton, NC. 

As I recall, the land for the track was owned by two brothers named Foote who I
believe were old farmers. (I heard sometime in the late seventies that one of
them had died and that was when the rumor mill began as to what would happen to
the track.) The track was managed at that time, I believe, by a gentleman named
Paul Rembold who had an office at a nearby airfield. There was a maintenance man
at the track that everyone knew whose name was Henry. Henry used to have a
"Virginia is for lovers" bumper sticker on the back of his station wagon, over
which he had covered "ginia" with black electrical tape. Henry really loved the
track, as did we all.

Whenever we raced, the old Holiday Inn in Danville was more or less Race
Central. It was always interesting to see the parking lot filled with race cars
on trailers of those drivers who didn't set up camp in the paddock area. I
recall the hotel even put "Welcome VIR" on their marquee one time.

In 1974 or 75 the NC Region's annual report was basically a tribute to the track
upon its closing. It was full of articles, photos, reflections, etc., from
people who had come to love her like a family member. 

My father had some success at VIR, although he had his share of blown engines,
trips into the cornfield and what not. I myself worked Timing and Scoring in the
Pagoda at most of the events.

I have fond memories of VIR, and especially the people I came to know. Names
like FF drivers James "Dirty Ramone" Liles and Harvey Templeton, Production
drivers like the late Jim Fitzgerald and the late Ellis Roach (there was even an
Ellis Roach Memorial Race held at the track after his death), and the
organizations of Group 44 Racing out of New England(?), Bob Sharpe Racing and
the perennial favorite Team Turtle whom I believe raced Bug-Eye Sprites. I also
recall the introduction of the SSS class when a typical race consisted of six
Ford Pintos running nose to tale for ten laps, in the same order each time they
passed the Pagoda. I remeber as well the first Endurance race run at the track,
the VIR 200. My father had wrecked his Spitfire on Saturday, he and his mechanic
towed the car back to Raleigh, worked on it until six in the morning, towed it
back to the track, ran in the endurance race, and the car lasted for maybe 20
laps. My father said they were insane to think they could do an all-nite repair
and come back expecting to finish that race. The race was won by a man from
Durham who drove some type of Porsche (911?) which was lime green with a black
number 9 on the door. His only real competition came from a red Porsche of the
same model, which I believe did not finish the race.

The only thing I didn't like about VIR (other than the pink wooden privies) was
what happened when it rained. The entire infield became a massive mud pit. I
watched my mother literally walk right out of her shoes as they became stuck in
a foot and a half of mud. I also recall a bus, pulling a race car on a trailer,
being towed by a tow truck because it was stuck in the mud - and a larger truck
was trying to pull the first tow truck which had become stuck as well.

I've lost contact with almost all of my racing "family" from VIR. Sally passed
away in 1983, and I just lost interest after that. (The NC Region paid respect
to my mom by introducing the "Sally Zorowski Behind the Scenes Award" which has
been presented to a deserving race worker every year since she passed away). My
father continued to race Formula V's into the late 1980's.

Anyway, forgive me for my rambling. Your web-site really stirred up a lot of old
memories. Thought you might be interested in hearing about VIR from another

I may have some additional pictures, entry forms, posters, whatever from some of
my VIR days if you would be interested.

Again, thank you for putting together your website. It's a fitting tribute to a
grand old lady.

Karl Zorowski

Back to main VIR history page
please send me e-mail with any additional info on this or any other VIR race