The world’s largest automotive education and entertainment company, Skip Barber Racing School, will relocate its headquarters to the Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County.
Skip Barber Racing School will also establish a performance driving school at VIR, which will construct a 25,000-square-foot facility in the Motorsport Technology Park. VIR will lease the space to Skip Barber Racing School for this project.
This is an $8.9 million investment that will create 24 new jobs. Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced the relocation at an event at VIR this afternoon.
“We’re proud to have this impressive company, this hallmark of racing, relocate its headquarters here in Virginia,” Youngkin said at the announcement, calling VIR a “unique gem.”
Virginia beat out six other states for this relocation, said Connie Nyholm, CEO and co-owner of VIR, during the event, including California and Texas.
According to the Skip Barber Racing School, “the competition was against six of the largest, most iconic road race tracks in the United States,” said Suzanne Clark, managing director of communications for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
Scott Simpson, Halifax County administrator, pointed out that this is the second time in two months that Youngkin has visited Halifax for an economic development announcement. His previous visit in September was to announce that the country’s first titanium recycling manufacturer was coming to the county.
Attracting this company is a testament to Virginia’s emphasis on getting people back to work and “doubling down on policies that make Virginia attractive for job growth and for business investment,” Youngkin said.
His administration is committed to strengthening the infrastructure and business line to attract high-caliber companies like Skip Barber to the Commonwealth, he said.
The Skip Barber Racing School is currently headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut, but has 11 racing schools all over the country; Halifax will be the 12th.
The Skip Barber Racing School was established by Skip Barber in 1975. Since then, it has graduated over 400,000 drivers including one-third of all Indianapolis 500 competitors and one-fourth of NASCAR Cup competitors.
Notable alumni include Danica Patrick, the most successful woman in American open-wheel car racing, and Marco Andretti, third generation of the famous racing Andretti family.
Anthony DeMonte, CEO of Skip Barber, and his brother Dan DeMonte, chief marketing officer, were also at the event.
Dan DeMonte said that Skip Barber even had international locations interested in claiming their relocation. But Virginia stood out because of the effort that Youngkin and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick put in, he said.
“I have to say how impressed I’ve been with the entire process from the community, specifically by the governor and the secretary, taking the time to spend time with us and understand what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it,” DeMonte said.
Skip Barber is aiming to expand its operations, brand and reach while maintaining the credibility and integrity of the brand. And the wealth of experience of the VIR team is another reason why Virginia was chosen, he said.
“It is our goal not only to bring customers from all over the world to enjoy, be educated and participate in our world-renowned programs or experience our corporate events, but to also introduce them to the beauty and grace of this track in the state of Virginia,” DeMonte said.
VIR is a multi-purpose road course that offers professional and amateur auto and motorcycle racing, and a variety of track events. It draws over tens of thousands of spectators each year, according to its website.
Youngkin called VIR “America’s first true motorsports resort” because of its many on-site hotels and other amenities, like go-karting, skeet shooting, pistol and rifle ranges and dining options.
Halifax County worked with its industrial development authority, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to secure this project for Virginia.
Youngkin approved a grant of $100,000 from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the county with this project, and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved a $32,500 grant for this project.
The Skip Barber Racing School is also eligible for state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program. And the Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support employee training.