Memories of VIR – and why we’re still going there 18 years later…

By Gigi Pridmore

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Reg and his renowned chalkboard at Seattle circa 1999

Back in the late 90’s CLASS still made the rounds of the USA every summer. We would leave California in May and we wouldn’t be back until August. We’d go from Denver to Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. Then it was on to Wisconsin — Road America for a fun and inspiring weekend at the AMA Nationals and CLASS following on the Monday and Tuesday. We’d visit Grattan in Michigan, Mid Ohio, Pocono, Road Atlanta and later Barber Motorsports Park where the fabulous museum is, and we’d sell out schools all summer long. Then around Labor Day we’d head north for a few weeks — to Portland, OR and then to Seattle. Oh man, those were fun times. As we’ve cut back our schedule the past decade, those tracks are no longer on the CLASS Calendar. Read on to find out why we still go to VIR.

When VIRginia International Raceway re-opened in 2000, Reg contacted them about getting dates there for CLASS. That track has been on the CLASS calendar every year since. Many a summer we sweltered in the Virginia sunshine and humidity, tires practically spinning on the rims from the heat. Then an afternoon thunderstorm would come and cool everything down as we finished for the day. One steamy July afternoon during the wrap up meeting, a longtime student asked if we would consider moving our VIR dates to the Fall. Virginia is beautiful in the Fall they said. And they were right.

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T3 in the background, Stuart, John and Al on the “track-walk” last year at VIR

And so for the past several years we’ve had October dates there. Brisk mornings and warm sunny afternoons have been the norm, though we have had a rain day or two which actually works into our program of smooth riding. But it is green! The VIR property is an amazing “country club” with huge lawns, a few ponds, lots of trees and the sweetest race track east of the Mississippi. Not to mention there are several places to stay right on the premises including The Lodge, outside of turn 6, which is where we’ve stayed for so many years. There’s also The Tavern, an old original Virginia Plantation house made into a restaurant — right on the premises — where you can get a good meal and wet your whistle without having to drive into town.

We run the North Course at VIR, the same 2.25 mile course used by MotoAmerica Pro Racing. It’s an amazing ribbon of asphalt that we cannot get enough of, and it’s a fantastic teaching track too.

Take a lap of VIR with Reg

Are you ready to find out what’s in you on the more than half mile front straight? Or the amazing and synchronized turn 3/4/5/6 segment (did you see The Lodge in the background?). When you get the line right it sings to you! Are you ready to attack Turn 7 and head up the hill into those super fun and challenging esses, then down the back and turn it on as you lean first left then right and accelerate back onto that beautiful long front straight? But you don’t have to be a racer and you don’t even really have to be super fast. You can go for a Sunday ride on this track under Reg and the team’s tutelage and have just as great a time as anybody. Taking your street bike, whatever it might be, onto this track is just an awesome experience.

Left: Mary joins us from IL on her S1000XR and improves every year.
Right: Some people ask if they can put a GS on the track. Um…Yes.

Not only is it the track and the area that seduces with Southern charm, there is something different about the students that attend at VIR. We get a lot of riders of course from VA, MD and NC, but we also get you guys and gals from Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even California. We feel a very strong bond with so many of you and for those who attend for the first time, it is often that they sign up again the next year.

We really love VIR and the students that attend there.  This is the reason after 18 years, while we have cut out all of our old stomping grounds outside Cali, VIR is still on the calendar. With our great association with Morton’s BMW in Fredericksburg, VA — key CLASS instructor Stu Beatson is the service manager there — and Morton’s willingness to help out and give support, our only school outside of California continues to shine.

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A CLASS fixture at VIR, Georg on his Dresser

CLASS is not just another track day and it’s not just any old school. Three time AMA Superbike Champ Reg Pridmore has been doing this, and doing it well, for decades. And his handpicked team gives you an unparalleled fun experience. CLASS is and has always been a track school for street riders. Whether you ride a sport bike, a dual sport, a sport tourer, or even the occasional Harley (right Georg?), we want to help you ride it well, better than ever, and have an absolute blast doing so.

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So in October Reg and I will be there along with Stuart, Aaron, John, Clark, Gary, Marcus, Gery, Allan, Kenny, and Dave. It’s maybe the friendliest, most helpful team on the planet and we’re there to coach you, ride with you, critique you and make you a better, safer, and even (if that’s what you’re looking for) faster rider.

We hope you’ll make plans now to join us for this two-day CLASS at VIR by registering today. Don’t miss this opportunity to ride once again — or for the first time with Reg and the CLASS crew. We will make you a better rider.

As a lot of you know, many times Reg has said “this is the last time”. But each year as we leave, the smiles on our faces and gladness in our hearts because of the fun we have at GigiFaceVIR brings us to set dates for the following year. You guys know one of these days will be the last, it has to, and as I sit here, I feel strongly that this may be the last one – I hope I’m wrong. And I will never say never because we don’t know what the future holds.

But what I do know is that we are scheduled to be at VIR for CLASS October 15 and 16, 2018 and I cannot wait! I hope you’ll join us.

Cheers,
Gigi Pridmore

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Thanks for the photos EtechPhoto and Tracey Joyce Photography

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2 thoughts on “Memories of VIR – and why we’re still going there 18 years later…

  1. I ride a BMW R1200RT but would love to ride it better. How much for the one day course? Also, do you rent bikes. I would rather not ride my touring bike.

    • Hi Randy, A BMW R1200RT is a great bike and we actually see a lot of them at CLASS. They go, they stop, they handle well and have plenty of power. We rent bikes in California, but not at VIR. They are Honda CBR500Rs, a much smaller bike than your BMW. I wouldn’t discourage you from taking your touring bike onto the track with our program, it’s here we want you to learn better control and technique on the bike you ride on the street. As you can tell by the pictures, many do 🙂 I would refer you to our calendar page for pricing and all of our dates http://www.classrides.com/_calendar/calendar.html. You don’t mention if VIR is where you are looking to go, but it is a two day class at $850 (pricing good until Sept 1). We’d be happy to discuss it further if you’d like (805) 933-9936. Gigi

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