The virtually noiseless electric cars of Tesla Motors circled the 3/4-mile oval as a mix of lobbyists, state officials and car enthusiasts admired their performance earlier this month.
However, to hear the Tesla faithful tell it, the car of the future is struggling to keep a foothold in Virginia and other states because of bureaucratic roadblocks and resistance from more traditional auto dealers.
"If we can get Virginia up to speed, it will open the floodgates," predicted David Link of Williamsburg, who owns a Tesla Model S sedan.
The commonwealth is a key proving ground for Tesla in protecting its interests, as it did in June when North Carolina lawmakers quashed a bill that would have banned the automaker's Internet-based car sales. Direct sales to consumers don't appear in jeopardy in Virginia, but Tesla wants actual stores here.