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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Announced as Grand Marshal for VIRginia International Raceway’s Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

Danville, Virginia – July 27, 2017 – VIRginia International Raceway is proud to announce the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam, will serve as Grand Marshal for the road course’s largest race of the year, the Michelin GT Challenge Aug. 19. As Grand Marshal, Northam will commence the race with the notorious command, “Drivers, start your engines!” as drivers gear up to top speeds of 190 miles per hour during the nearly three-hour race on the track’s historic 3.27-mile full course.

Before his inauguration, Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor. He graduated with distinction from the Virginia Military Institute and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army, where he served eight years of active duty and rose to the rank of major. Northam is the first native of the Eastern Shore to serve as governor since Gov. Henry A. Wise took office in 1856.

“It is a privilege to have Gov. Northam kick off VIR’s most exciting race of the year,” said Connie Nyholm, VIR owner and CEO. “We both share a love for Virginia and fast cars, so I know Gov. Northam will be a perfect fit for the thrilling role of Grand Marshal. We’re looking forward to sharing the action with drivers and spectators alike this August!”

The race won’t be strictly business for Gov. Northam, as it appeals to his lifelong love for restoring old cars. He’s known to work on restoring his bright red 1971 Corvette convertible as a hobby.

“I am honored to serve as Grand Marshal for the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “VIRginia International Raceway is a huge asset to the Commonwealth of Virginia and there’s no better road course in the world. My amateur stock car racing days may be behind me, but I’m ready to get up close and personal to the fierce competition at the Michelin GT Challenge.”

Advanced tickets for the Michelin GT Challenge race weekend are $45 for Friday-only, $50 for Saturday-only, $55 for Sunday-only, $65 for a two-day Saturday and Sunday ticket, and $75 for a three-day ticket. All tickets will be an additional $10 if purchased at the gate. Children 16 and under are admitted free of charge with a paying adult and parking is also free. Active military are admitted free of charge and veterans receive a 50 percent discount with valid military ID. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call (434) 822-TIKS.

About VIRginia International Raceway

VIRginia International Raceway is one of America’s premier road courses, offering professional and amateur racing for modern and vintage classes while providing contemporary resort amenities. A prominent test facility for the automotive industry, VIR has the distinction of being named one of the top six courses in North America by Car and Driver Magazine, and southern roots and hospitality make it one of the friendliest. Conveniently located at the Virginia/North Carolina border, VIR is just a short two-hour trip from Richmond and about an hour and 15 minutes from both the Piedmont-Triad and Raleigh-Durham International Airports.

VIR offers amenities such as lodging, dining, a spa, an exclusive driver’s club, karting, off-road racing, shooting sports, skid pad and more. VIR’s hospitality features also make the property an unparalleled venue for corporate retreats, team building, special events and other group experiences. For more information, visit, Facebook or Twitter.

About IMSA

The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) was originally founded in 1969 and owns a long and rich history in sports car racing. Today, IMSA is the sanctioning body of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the premier sports car racing series in North America. IMSA also sanctions the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda, as well as four one-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA – a company within the NASCAR family – is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. For more information, visit, or

About Michelin North America

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, Earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and motorcycles. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America ( employs more than 22,650 and operates 20 major manufacturing plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.