NASCAR legend to serve as Grand Marshal at VIR

VIRginia International Raceway is welcoming NASCAR Hall of Famer and team owner, Richard Petty, to serve as Grand Marshal for the Michelin GT Challenge, the track’s largest race of the year taking place Sunday, Aug. 27 during the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend. Petty is the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR, with a record number 200 career wins and seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championships.

At the Michelin GT Challenge, Petty will deliver the iconic command, “Drivers, start your engines!” as the competitors prepare to top speeds of 190 miles per hour during the nearly three-hour race on the track’s historic 3.27-mile full course. Petty will also be available for fan meet and greets, autograph signings and photo opportunities throughout the day.

“It is an incredible honor to have ‘The King’ at VIR to kick off our largest and most exciting race of the season,” said Connie Nyholm, VIR owner and CEO. “Richard Petty is one of the most accomplished and respected figures in motorsports, and our fans and drivers are in for a race day they will truly never forget. We can’t wait to share this amazing experience with everyone in August!”

Throughout his life, Petty has been elected to the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, International Motorsports Hall of Fame, North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. He is also a leader in philanthropy, donating 84 acres of his own land to Victory Junction, a North Carolina camp that enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The camp honors the life of Petty’s grandson, Adam Petty, who tragically lost his life in a racing accident one year after a touching experience visiting ill children at Florida’s Camp Boggy Creek. Every year, VIR hosts its Spring Open House and Charity laps event to benefit Victory Junction.

“I am thrilled to serve as Grand Marshal for the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR,” said Richard Petty, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports and Petty’s Garage high performance speed shop. “I couldn’t think of a better occasion to be back on a track than at the only mid-Atlantic stop of this premier North American sports car racing series. VIR is an amazing road course and I’m looking forward to kicking off the big event – it’s going to be a day full of excitement!”

Petty knows first-hand how demanding VIR’s track can be. He and others had difficulties making a left-hand turn, now unofficially dubbed “NASCAR Bend,” during a Trans Am race in the 1960s. This tough third turn of the course also leads drivers further toward the “climbing esses,” a section of the track considered by many race drivers as one of the most challenging and intimidating in North America. 

Advanced tickets for the Michelin GT Challenge race weekend are $40 for Friday-only, $45 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.