DANVILLE, Virginia — If any place is built for speed it’s VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) – it was recently chosen by Car and Driver magazine as one of the top six road courses in the nation. VIR hosts The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (TUSC), NASCAR and other professional and amateur auto and motorcycle events. From its humble beginnings in 1957 when a group of men took a bulldozer to plow a track through some farmland, it’s grown to become a world-class motorsports facility. It took a while for its PA system to catch up, however – until recently, thanks to HARMAN Professional and systems integrator Choice AVTech.
Choice Audio-Video Technologies from Atlanta, Georgia had installed a PA system at Road Atlanta, another local racetrack, and when VIR’s management team paid a visit two years ago they realized just how outpaced their own PA had become. “VIRginia International Raceway’s system had been installed in 1999 and was pretty basic,” said Choice AV president David Miller. “It certainly wasn’t enough for the kinds of spectator events VIR has been hosting more and more, and the visit to Road Atlanta convinced them it was time for an upgrade.”
As a relatively new company (in business since 2011), Miller found the support that HARMAN Professional provided was invaluable. “They really rolled out the red carpet for us. There are always a few different options for this type of project and the support and service they provided us really helped us make the right decision, which was a system based around the JBL AWC Series loudspeakers.”
The new system includes 13 JBL AWC129 compact all-weather loudspeakers and 17 AWC82 all-weather loudspeakers, driven by a Crown CDi 6000 and two Crown CDi4000 amplifiers. The speakers are mounted on their included metal U-brackets atop 30-foot high poles that are deployed around the perimeter of the racetrack.
A dbx DriveRack 4820 Loudspeaker Management System provides EQ, time alignment, signal routing and other system processing and control functions. Four AKG D5 dynamic vocal microphones and two AKG K271 MKII professional studio headphones are used by the track announcers.
Miller mentioned the biggest challenge of any racetrack installation: “It’s incredibly noisy. The sound pressure levels from the engine noise are very, very high, and you have the crowd noise on top of that. Because of the sheer basic need to be heard over all that noise, and because they’re cheap, most racing facilities and especially NASCAR tracks have been built around old-school horn loudspeakers.” While such crude devices deliver high volume and are inexpensive, Miller notes that high-quality sound is becoming essential to racing promoters because of the increase in pre-race ceremonies and the need for high-fidelity music reproduction. “Racetracks can’t get away with those old bullhorns anymore. They need sound systems that are full range and more musical, with extended bass and high-frequency response.”
“We chose these JBL AWC loudspeakers because they combine exceptional clarity for speech with extended frequency response for music, and their high power handling and sensitivity make them incredibly loud and powerful for their size,” said Miller. “The speakers are more competitively priced than other brands we considered. They look good and blend in inconspicuously into the surroundings – you can hardly notice they’re there.”
Miller went with the Crown CDi Series amplifiers because of their power and efficiency. “Right now we only require three amplifiers to power the system, which I think is a testament to their effectiveness.” Regarding the AKG D5, he finds it to be an exceptional dynamic microphone with an easy to activate on/off switch and warm, yet clear sound.
“The track’s management is extremely happy with the speech intelligibility, coverage and the quality of the music reproduction the new system provides.” In fact, Miller concluded, “this is just phase one of a larger system installation we plan to do at some point in the future that will enable VIR to host multiple and bigger events.”
“VIR is a premium venue and we challenged David and his team at Choice AVTech to upgrade our PA system so it reflects the same quality as the overall facility” says Connie Nyholm, Owner & CEO of VIRginia International Raceway. “When people come here, they expect the best, and that’s what we asked them to deliver. We couldn’t be happier with phase 1 and look forward to working with Choice AVTech and HARMAN on its continued development.”
About VIRginia International Raceway
VIRginia International Raceway is one of America’s premier road courses, offering professional and amateur racing for modern and vintage classes while providing contemporary resort amenities. Conveniently located at the Virginia/North Carolina border, VIR is just a short two hour trip from Richmond and about an hour and 15 minutes from both the Piedmont-Triad and Raleigh-Durham International Airports.
Recognized as the country club of racing, VIR offers complementary amenities such as lodging, dining, a spa, an exclusive driver’s club, karting, off-road racing, shooting sports, skid pad and more. The grounds also offer a unique setting and specialized facilities for corporate retreats, group activities and conference space. Onsite parcels are available for sale/lease to motorsports industry tenants.