A legendary field is set for Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s (SVRA) Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) Charity Pro-Am presented by Chopard Watch this Saturday at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Indianapolis 500 veteran Donnie Beechler and sports car aces Chris Dyson and Mike Skeen confirmed their entries today, bringing the field to 14 professionals and amateurs.
“The VROC Charity Pro-Am Presented by Chopard Watch will be a great race,” said SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “This field of legendary drivers is reminiscent of the original IROC series. Many competed in IROC, including Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Labonte, and both of them became champions of that iconic series. We will crown four new champions this Saturday.”
The VROC Charity Pro-Am at VIR is the final event and has attracted 14 racers with four in AP, and 10 for BP. Race winners are awarded the same number of points as there are entries in their class. The winner will score four points in AP, and 10 in BP. Other finishers will score one less point for each descending position in the running order.
Willy T. Ribbs, who leads the AP title chase, can ensure he is the professional champion with a runner-up finish. His co-driver, Ed Sevadjian, can nail down the amateur crown with a third-place finish. In BP, Jim Caudle is the clear favorite to take champion’s honors, requiring a third-place to close the deal. As for the professionals, Davy Jones leads by three markers and the third step on the podium will also ensure him the title. In the unlikely event of a tie, the competitor with the most race wins will be awarded the championship trophy.
Chopard, the Swiss artisan of luxury timepieces, and the Official Watch of SVRA, will present an SVRA-branded watch to the champions of AP and BP, both professional and amateur, at VIR. It is modeled after their prestigious Grand Prix De Monaco Historique Race Edition timepiece. Since 2002, Chopard has served as sponsor and official timekeeper at the renowned Grand Prix De Monaco Historique.
Chris Dyson will pull double-duty at VIR. He currently races in the top TA class in the Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli which shares the track with SVRA this weekend. He was TA Rookie of the Year last season, winning at Road Atlanta and posting 4 podium finishes, on the way to third in the championship. He’ll be back at in TA this weekend. Dyson began his motorsport career as a teenager, racing karts on dirt ovals and from there to SCCA club racing with a Spec Racer Ford before launching his professional career in 2001 in Grand-Am. He claimed five overall wins in the Rolex Series in 2002, finishing runner-up in the championship. Competing in the American Le Mans Series from 2002 through 2011, Dyson won the LMP 675 title in 2003 and the LMP 1 championship in 2011. His racing CV includes three 24 Hours of Le Mans starts. Alongside his Trans Am road racing program Dyson also competes in USAC, racing in Silver Crown, sprint cars and midgets on dirt and pavement.
Beechler is a four-time starter in the Indianapolis 500 and drove for the great A.J. Foyt in his final appearance in the race. He had 36 career starts in Indy car races, finishing on the podium twice. Beechler is a long-time midget and sprint car driver competing in the USAC Silver Crown series and at prestigious events such as the Chili Bowl midget car classic. Beechler was inducted into the Springfield, Illinois Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
Skeen began racing in karts and later stepped up to win the 2008 NASA SpecE30 national championship. By 2011 he was driving full-time in Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GT and continued there through 2015. During that time, he scored several race wins and frequently appeared on the podium. In 2014 he finished second in the championship, scoring three wins and five pole positions. In 2017 Skeen competed in the Blancpain Endurance Series as well as continuing part-time with PWC. He has been racing in IMSA GTD since 2016. A versatile driver, Skeen has competed in NASCAR, FIA World Endurance, and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar series. He also achieved class wins in the 2012 SCORE Baja 1000 and the 2014 Pikes Peak Hill Climb where was awarded Rookie of the Year.
The VROC Charity Pro-Am presented by Chopard Watch is a Saturday feature event at VIR and will benefit IGNITE – the Autism Society of North Carolina’s community center for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome. The cars are 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs of SVRA “Group 6” A and B Production. The professionals will be paired with amateur drivers. Amateurs will start the race and be required to drive a maximum of seven laps. In addition to the Pro-Am, the Speed Tour VIR weekend is a festival of other activities, including professional Trans Am by Pirelli series races on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend also presents the Hagerty Insurance “cars & caffeine” car corral, and 300+ vintage racers ranging over 100 years of automotive history racing in SVRA Groups 1 through 12.