CBC: What training and/or experiences from your career in the military have you applied as a race car driver?
Virgil: I think the biggest thing is just the intestinal fortitude you gain from military experience. The drive to be the best that you can, definitely the discipline and a "never quit" attitude. Racing can be very hard, mentally and physically, so the ability to function and make split second decisions, sometimes under pressure, is definitely an asset. The coolest thing that parallels the military is the camaraderie. You meet people from all walks of life and form instant bonds and friendships and that is definitely more important to me than taking any checkered flag.
CBC: Since you started racing, what’s a goal that you set out from Day 1 to achieve – and accomplished it?
Virgil: The goal when we got into this, my wife and I, was to just be competitive. It’s hard to do that sometimes and we’ve had great success together doing just that. As seasons tick by you want to win of course and you watch the points standings every week, but we set really simple goals…just be better next week than we were this week. The biggest thing I want to do is be a driver that younger guys can come to for advice when times are tough, and be a role model to the kids in the stands because I remember being in awe of the guys I watched in my youth.
CBC: How do you take care of yourself while you’re building and working on your car?
Virgil: Racing season is hard on your schedule sometimes. There’s a lot of meals you get off the roller grill at the gas station on the way to the track. Sleep is hard sometimes too if you travel to races regularly. We don’t get to bed sometimes until 4 a.m. after getting up at 8 a.m. the day before. We try to take time during the week to see friends and family to give us a break from the work and the mental pressure. Quality time with family and friends is a big help. Welding and painting can wreak havoc on your beard too so I make sure to keep my beard clean and conditioned with oil.
CBC: Does that self-care routine look any different when you’re getting ready for a race?
Virgil: My dad travels with us to every race wherever it is. He’ll be 76 years young this month. So we talk on the rides to the races every week. He’s a Vietnam Vet so we talk about a plethora of topics but it’s awesome to be spending time with him and my wife. We have a race day playlist that we listen to on the way to the track every week without fail. Pre race routine for me is something of a ritual. I actually shower before every race (even though I’ll be covered in dirt in the first lap sometimes). I also take the time to condition my beard with some balm for sure. It helps protect my beard from absorbing the clay that flys through the air.
CBC: Speaking of racing, we hear it gets hot in those cars! How do you stay hydrated? (And keep it cool with a beard?!)
Virgil: Yes, it does get hot in the summer sitting in the staging lane with your helmet on and engine running, with the headers baking your feet through the sheet metal. Once you’re on the track though you don't even notice it. My wife has to keep on me to pound the water between the warmups, heats and feature race. My beard is pretty long so I wear a nomex hood and I use that to tuck my beard up to keep it protected and out of my helmet chin strap. Once I’m out of the car I immediately brush my beard. That helps cool me off under there pretty good. There isn’t much more you can do.
CBC: How do you stay mentally and physically “in the zone” during the busy racing season?
Virgil: Sometimes physically I just keep going, that’s where the military experiences come into play. You just get tired and wore out. My wife and I try to stay physically active during the off season to help offset the challenges during the season. To stay mentally focused I have a pretty good support system of racing friends and family. On race days there is a ritual I do. I try to do the same thing the same way every day. Like a baseball player does with their superstitions hahaha! Music on race day with our playlist is a big factor. Helps get me motivated and calms my pre race nerves too.
CBC: What would you say to someone thinking about getting into racing as a profession?
Virgil: The first piece of advice is have fun!! It should be exciting and fun every time you strap in. If it feels like work, or you aren’t happy, it’s time to park the car. Also, know you can spend way more money than you’ll ever win, but if you’re in it for the money then it isn’t fun. Second I would say don’t give up. No matter how hard it gets it’s about being the best you can be, leaving it all on the track. As one of my favorite songs says “knowing that it's in ya and ya never let it out is worse than blowing any engine or any wreck you’ll ever have”. Third thing is put in the work. Races are won in the garage during the week before race weekends. Also, be humble and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. The racing community is like a huge extended family. It’s a great experience!
CBC: What would you say to someone thinking about growing an epic beard?
Virgil: Patience!! It takes patience. Let it grow and see what it’s capable of and embrace YOUR beard. Every beard is different so don’t compare it to anyone else’s. Your genetics are what they are and that’s ok. Take care of your beard and your beard will take care of you. Establish a routine that fits your style and schedule. Keep it clean and brushed out so it will “train” itself. Get a good natural boar hair brush and a good beard comb. Never use plastic combs or brushes in your beard. Also get your beard trimmed at a reputable place that knows beards, Chattanooga Beard Co. if possible. It keeps the dead ends at bay and helps your beard stay healthy. MOST IMPORTANTLY USE CHATTANOOGA BEARD CO PRODUCTS in your routine. They really are the best at nourishing and conditioning your beard. Wether it’s short or long, thick or not, the products you use with an established routine will make your beard stand out amongst others, and Chattanooga Beard Co products are definitely head and shoulders above the rest!!
CBC: Do you have a go-to beard routine, or do you like to mix it up day by day?
Virgil: I try to keep the same routine daily. I wake up in the morning and wet my beard, put oil on my beard and skin, comb and brush it out. I may add oil during the day if I’m working hard. Then at night it’s shower and wash it with beard wash and every other day it gets a conditioner after the beard wash. Get out of shower pat it dry and oil it again. Once a week I forego any product to let my beard and face "breathe". Then at a minimum of two times a week I switch from oil to balm. If I’ve been welding or painting I up the balm to 3-4 times a week. This routine has has helped in keeping my beard healthy.
CBC: If you could only take one beard product with you to your next race, what would it be and why?
Virgil: Definitely my oil and my brush..wait that’s two hahaha! I guess it’d be some oil. After wearing the hood, sweating in there all night, watching the other classes run and getting covered in clay dust it’s good to get some oil in my beard to stop from getting hot spots in your “under beard”. Plus it puts some moisture back into your beard until you can get it cleaned up.