Home race and festival feel: Milner pumped for VIR

August 13, 2018

Home race and festival feel: Milner pumped for VIR

August 13, 2018

Without a race in the Nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C. native Tommy Milner can rely on a close state to the capital – Virginia – to provide a home race.

The Corvette Racing driver has an affinity for VIRginia International Raceway, site of this week’s Michelin GT Challenge. It marks the ninth race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season for the GT Le Mans class.

Milner has a pair of past victories at VIR. One came in a BMW in 2005, while his most recent victory came with Oliver Gavin in 2012 for Corvette in the previous generation C6.R.

In the run-up to Sunday’s race, Milner partook in a number of pre-race festivities. The @VIRnow track Twitter account chronicled them.

Milner is particularly upbeat for the VIR race and the efforts of its staff, led by track majority owner and CEO Connie Nyholm, to have grown the event over the years.

“First of all it’s a lot of fun to be GT only, be the top class and race for the overall win at the Michelin GT Challenge,” Milner said. “To get that attention is pretty fun.

“At a place like VIR, it’s such a fun race track for us to drive. It’s a pleasure to go there with all the staff at VIR. They try so hard to make sure all the teams and drivers have a good race weekend.”

The nature of the high heat and humidity expected at VIR adds to the degree of difficulty.

“We look forward to this race so much. It’s a tough one because it’s so hot and humid,” he explained.

“But there are great fans, people and camping throughout the grounds. It’s got a little bit of a festival feel. Wake up early, and smell the breakfast cooking – there’s a real atmosphere to it.”

Milner’s “home team” has won the biggest prize in hockey earlier this year. His Washington Capitals hoisted the Stanley Cup Trophy for the first time in June, just before the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I was still nervous even with six seconds left in third period they were ahead!” he laughed. “It was so cool to see the Caps win. I’ve been a fan since ’93 and ’94 when my dad took me to a game or two. I’d always go then. So I’ve watched a lot of heartbreaks where the Caps should have been good. I wish I could have been home for some of it. The parade looked incredible.”

Milner and Gavin finished second last race at Road America. They sit fourth in the GTLM driver’s championship.

Now, Milner will look for the closest thing to a “home win” in his day job this weekend.

To do so, he and Gavin will have to break the run of form turned in by teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia at VIR. The defending GTLM class champions have won the last two VIR races.

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