Some call Virginia International Raceway a "golf course with faster carts." But it's also one of the most demanding courses on the sports-car calendar. If the young hopefuls of Porsche GT3 Cup can't cut it here, they'll never get a coveted seat in the post-ALMS Grand Am racing world.

Tucked into a hilly, deep-green meadow on the Virginia/North Carolina border, VIR is a picture postcard for spectators, but it's a deep well of hail-mary turns and whoa-shit crests for drivers. VIR punishes small mistakes brutally, and in a spec race where everyone's on close-to-equal footing, winning a podium spot comes down to who can run the cleanest, most strategic race.

VIR opened in 1957 during the sports-car racing boom of the post-war years, and hosted the SCCA National Sports Car Championship until 1964. By 1974, VIR was on the ropes. Unable to secure a big-name series — like so many other such courses that failed to make it in the televised-sports era — VIR was shuttered.

Since its 2000 refurbishment and reopening, VIR's famous Turn 11 oak tree is still there (though the famous Turn 6 drunk guy with a sunburnt head and a flask of Four Roses is long gone). Still, the GT racing history is thick, beginning with IMSA's first GT race, the 1971 VIR 300, and although the natural-terrain track spent the 1980s and 1990s as a cow pasture, it's since hosted AMA Superbike Championship, Rolex Cup Series and ALMS races.

This year, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup feeder series is here, and with the Grand Am takeover of ALMS looming, and the possibility of fewer seats available, these young drivers are more concerned than ever with impressing those who will be the gatekeepers of their racing careers.

To them, VIR less a country club than a cage match with really nice scenery.