DANVILLE, Va. – According to the old tales, talent and abilities flow in bloodlines. Racing talent is certainly one of those, with the Unser, Petty, Earnhardt, Gregg, Donohue, and Roush families all following one generation after another.
Yes, Roush. 32-year-old Jack Roush, Jr., son of successful team owner Jack Roush, is racing too. Not in drag racing, where his father started, but in the road racing sports car battles of KONI Challenge series, where he will be racing in the series' season finale October 7. The six-hour endurance race for the Mustangs, Porsches, BMWs and Pontiacs of the series, will determine the season championship for both driver and manufacturer.
"Obviously, a six hour race presents a completely different set of issues that we have to deal with," stated Jack Roush, Jr. "This is like a 'double race' so we need to bring additional brakes, fuel, several more sets of tires, and a third driver to help make it through the event. In some regards, this race is more like the survival of the fittest to see which teams and cars can make it through to the end."
Roush, after running in only seven of the eleven races leading up to the Danville classic is in 27th place, but with a win could vault into the top twenty at year's end. The team is 16th in the point standings and a win could move them well up in the standings at the season's final race.
Jack's racing career started, like so many others, in karting, where he and his father raced together at Flat Rock Speedway in Michigan, earning four championships and tying for the season crown in their final half-season. Moving on from karts, Jack Jr. tried drag racing, using that as a learning tool. Stepping out of the straight-line sport of drag racing into road racing sports cars is a hard leap for many; Roush made the move almost seamlessly, starting in a 2001 Mustang as driver and team owner.
Obviously taking advantage of family connections, Roush drives a Ford Mustang, the No. 59 Rehagen Racing team car, with co-driver Dean Martin. Not only a Ford, but with sponsorship from ROUSH Performance, one of his father’s businesses. Martin is returning to the driving seat after taking a race off so he could recover from racing injuries. Joining the pair as third driver in the long race is Colin Braun, newly-signed to Roush Fenway Racing as a development driver and Grand-Am Daytona Prototype racer. Braun co-drove to a win at Daytona June 29, 2006, becoming the youngest driver to capture a DP race.
The race at VIR is not his first at the Danville, Virginia track: "I'm really looking forward to heading back to VIR and a track that I am familiar with," said Roush. "This season has been a challenge because I am still learning the feel of the Mustang as well as the layout on every other track we visit. At least I have some experience at VIR from the race last year and I think that this time I will be much quicker, and hopefully, the weather will be more cooperative," he added, referring to the 2006 event which saw a wide range of conditions.
"We're happy to welcome Jack to VIR on his return to our GT Live/KONI Challenge event," said VIR General Manager Josh Lief. "We truly appreciate the heritage that family ties bring to our sport and the Roush family is a great name in racing."
The younger Roush's "day job" is as vice president for product development with "What-U-Seek" in Livonia, Michigan, a web-based software company that assists companies with online marketing and web marketing initiatives.
The racing bug runs deep in the Roush family, as Jack Jr.'s sister Susan and her husband Dale are involved in drag racing, keeping the family name at the fore in that sport as well.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Virginia. Reopened in 2000, VIR hosts a wide range professional and amateur auto and motorcycle racing and track events, and is well established as "America's Motorsport Resort." In addition to its historic 3.27 mile natural-terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park and Motorsports Technology Park, which includes the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research ("VIPER"); the Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8 mile paved natural terrain karting circuit; an expanding variety of on-site lodging (including 45 hotel rooms and the trackside Villas which are for sale); Camp Motorsport for enthusiasts of all ages; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full-service restaurant located within the circa-1840 Plantation Clubhouse.
VIR's next major event is the GT Live/KONI Challenge event, the weekend of October 5-7. With the widest variety of motorsports available, the headliner event will be the KONI Challenge races for high-performance production sports cars, coupes and sedans. With limited modifications, these are the same cars seen on the highways every day. The VIR races will be the finales for the two classes, both featuring a six-hour enduro format. The big engined Grand Sport (GS) racers will take the track in the weekend's capstone, while the smaller Street Tuner (ST) class attracts the import and hot compact crowd.
GS races feature Porsche, Nissan, BMW, Mustang and Pontiac, while the ST cars attract entries such as Mazda RX-8, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Dodge SRT-4, MINI Cooper S, Acuras and a variety of BMWs. The entire field races on Hoosier tires, further equalizing the competition.
Other attractions of the GT Live weekend include such diverse programs as: - GT Sim Race: Ride in some of the world’s hottest cars in cars on VIR’s 3.27-mile Full Course. - Tarzan’s Lap Battle: Drive your own car in on the 1.1-mile Patriot Course in a Time Attack, competing for lap times. - Rally-X: drive your car on VIR’s gravel rally stage roads. - Karting Zone: race karts in the on VIR's Plantation Valley Kart Track. - Car and bike shows and fan festivals for Mazda, Nissan/Infiniti, Subaru and Mitsubishi EVO. - GT Track Attack pitting American tuners against Japanese tuners for cash prizes. - US Drift Shootout: the best amateur and professional drifters competing on the Patriot Course for cash. - The best motorcycle stunt riders in the business compete for cash prizes in the invitation-only XDL U.S. Stunt Riding Championship.
For information on the track and other event schedules, call 434-822-7700 or check our web site at .
Courtesy of Virginia International Raceway