The first race of the first all-diesel, road racing series in America took place this past weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, and we were there, or rather AutoblogGreen was there, to watch it go down. The gorgeous VIR long course proved to be a great setting for the opening round of Volkswagen's new Jetta TDI Cup series. The new series is both a continuation of VW's history of grassroots racing, as well as promotion for the new Jetta TDI that launches this summer. Volkswagen had an open casting call earlier this year for young amateur racing drivers and picked the 30 best to run in the promotional series. Prior to arriving at VIR for Friday's first practice, the drivers had one day of actual running in the Jettas during the driver selection process at the beginning of April. Though the Jetta TDI race cars were slightly modified from their production counterpart for safety reasons, they still managed to return 25 mpg... while racing.
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Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Following two practice sessions on Friday and a 30-minute qualifying session on Saturday, 23-year-old Josh Hurley claimed the number one starting slot on the standing start grid for Sunday's race. Yesterday afternoon, the field (ranging in age from three, 16-year-olds to one 26-year-old Gary Williams, Jr.) made a clean getaway for the 30-minute race. Although they were cautious at the start, it didn't take long before cars were mixing it up. Anyone who remembers seeing first-generation (and later) Rabbits and Sciroccos on the track or autocross course would instantly recognize the three-wheel cornering stance of these Jettas during hard cornering. A few laps into the race, the first yellow flag flew bringing out the pace car for a couple of laps while the carnage was cleared. Once they were back under green, the Jettas were door-handle-to-door-handle through the corners as their tires howled. There was action aplenty with lots of lead changes, but ultimately, Mark Pombo crossed the line first with 1.63 seconds covering the first six cars. If you happen to be at one of the tracks where the Jetta TDI Cup is running this summer (check the schedule here), make sure you don't wander off during this race. You won't know any of these drivers names (yet), but the action is fun to watch and odds are at least some of these drivers may become household names in time.
Travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer