Updating the pit lane at VIR was one of a longstanding personal goal for me. Back in my crew days, I used to do the pit lane setup. It was always a frustration at VIR when your pit box was located in the middle of the pit lane. In the area from the old middle gate all the way down to the North Tower gate the cold side of pit lane was 1 foot higher than the hot side of pit lane. This made it easier for the team to get over to service the car but it presented a challenge for a fuel rig. The fuel rigs are gravity fed and therefore regulated at how high you can put the mass of the fuel in the air, it’s usually 6 feet. If the bookends of pit lane were all set to 6’ and the pit boxes in the middle were at 7’ then one could argue an advantage for the higher tanks; more gravity, and potential for greater fuel flow.
The fuel rigs we had back in the day were very limited on their adjustment. Dropping the rig a foot and still keeping it functional was a lot of work and sometimes not possible. If you could not get your fuel rig to the right height then you failed tech inspection. It became such a problem for some teams that a large portion of our pit lane was unusable for pro racing.
I often joke about things being “BK” (before Kerrigan). The pit lane suites and garages are very nice and a great addition to the track but they greatly shortened available pit lane space. Combine this with the unusable section and the big opening we had at the North Tower and you have lost the ability to pit half of a field of cars. So, we modified the center opening in the wall to be either closed or open, but more a function of being open for bikes. We extended the pit lane near the start stand to give us a total length on the pit lane of 946’.
On the cold side of pit lane, we had a chance to clean things up a little and give it more of a professional and finished look. We had a grassy knoll all the way down that did nothing but collect trash and cigarette butts. We decided to cut that slope out and go with a hard wall which gave us about 5 more feet of workable room for crews to use on the pit lane. Plus, it gave us an opportunity to hard mount the power and video plug in’s including adding power and plug-ins on the back of the North Tower. We then updated the light towers and the fencing to hopefully give it that finished and polished look. We also decided to put a gate in at the garages with stairs so crew members did not have to go to the center gate only to back track to the garages.
For the fans we decided to build a proper area so they could either view the action on the pit lane or turn around and view any action going on at the transporters. The main objective was to give people an area that was out of the way of traffic if they wanted it. Hopefully we will have some more updates in this area for the fans before the IMSA event.
Lastly we created a crew only access for their tuggers and pit boxes to have access onto the cold or hot side of pit lane from the West side of the garages and the False Grid saving them a lot of travel time. In our master planning it is our focus to shift the “energy” away from the North Tower and to bring it to the False Grid with some very exciting updates that we have planned for that area.
Stay tuned for more…..
President & COO