ALTON, Va. – official release — Virginia Int’l Raceway will memorialize the track’s iconic oak tree with the replanting of a descendant of the original tree and products made from its wood.
The tree, which stood for more than 200 years, served as a prominent feature, iconic symbol and welcome shade provider to the track’s south end. It fell in the summer of 2013.
VIR recently discovered “the son of oak tree,” which had been planted from an acorn taken from the original tree about nine years ago by a former VIR employee. Through consultation with the Virginia Department of Forestry, the tree will be transported in November and replanted near the spot of the old oak tree. The new location will be outside the track, approximately 150 feet from the original oak, providing more stable ground and accommodating modern racing safety regulations.
In addition, Dreaming Creek Timber Frame Homes in Powhattan has milled the original tree and is drying it to be available for future use. After one to two years of drying, the tree will be cut into several large slabs to be used for different purposes, including a memorial marker that will be placed on the ground where the old oak tree once stood. The remaining large slabs and smaller pieces will be available for fans to purchase to make their own works of art, furniture and other creations to honor the old oak tree.
“The oak tree meant so much to us at VIR and we’ve put a lot of thought into how to best honor it,” said Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of VIR. “We’re so excited to have found ‘the son of oak tree’ and to be able to have something related to the original tree onsite, as well as being able to offer some of the original tree to the fans who knew it so well. These actions will serve as a nod to the past, while looking toward our future.”
The replanting of the oak tree symbolizes an ongoing transformation at VIR. The track made numerous improvements prior to the 2014 season, including repaving the full course and widening it by six feet at several locations to allow for easier passing. Momentum at VIR has continued with an increase in ticket sales at last weekend’s Biscuitville 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and sales for this weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Oak Tree Grand Prix on track to surpass last year’s American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón event. VIR also was recently confirmed as one of only 12 stops on the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule.
“Virginia Int’l Raceway is a popular stop for many of our competitors and enjoys loyal – and growing – fan support,” said Scott Atherton, IMSA President and COO. “Connie Nyholm and her outstanding team continue to do a fantastic job of improving the track and fan amenities and promoting the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. It’s going to be a great event this weekend and we are delighted to return in 2015.”