VIR - August 1957 Saturday Qualifying Race Report
Virginia International Raceway - August 3-4, 1957
The Danville Register - Sunday, August 4, 1957
Inauguration Day at VIR Roaring Success; Big Races Today
Over 5,000 Spectators see 14 laps of Sports Car Racing
Bob Holbert, Ed Hugus Win
83 laps crammed into 7-event card today
click on photo for a larger version
Start of Race #1
Ed Hugus - winner of Race #1
Holbert takes checker
Inauguration Day at the Virginia International Raceway east of Danville was
pronounced a roaring success. More than 5,000 spectators thrilled at the
sampling of things to come. The dose will be offered today.
As against Saturday's 14 laps of Sports Car racing, there will be 83 laps
crammed into seven events starting at 10 a.m. today. Time trials indicated that
yesterday's top average speed of 73 miles per hour will be eclipsed by
something like 85 mph when 'the "big ones" hit the trail this
Bob Holbert of Warrington, Pa.,turned
in the 73 mph average in the seven-lap afternoon finale, shoving a Porsche 500
around the 22.4 miles in 18 minutes, 23 and two-tenths seconds. Thus he
captured the Class F Modified event.
Ed Hugus of Pittsburgh, Pa., maneuvered an Alfa
Romeo to victory in the opening event, averaging 67.05 mph, in the G Production
Other winners in the various categories were: Harry Beck in Class F, George Tipsword in Class H Modified, John Middleton in Class E
Modified, and M.R.J. Wylie in Class G Modified.
Against the times set by these smaller cars yesterday afternoon, the time
trials for the larger models turned up real speed. Both Charles Wallace of
Washington and Walter Hansgen of Chicago drove D-Jaguars around the
"dangerous dozen" at an average of to 88.6 miles. Their time for the
3.2 miles was 2:27.8.
Later, Carroll Shelby of Dallas spun the newly-imported Maserati
around the course in an unofficial 2:25.6 minutes. But his qualifying time was
recorded in the official books of the Sports Car Club of America as 2:28.1.
Thus a Wallace-Hansgen-Shelby battle shaped up for the third race to be run
today and for the finale.
Wallace ran into trouble in the second race yesterday when his Porsche RS Spyder spun off the track and was damaged slightly. There
were two other miscues in the same race but no one suffered as much as a
scratch. Frank Baptista's Lotus went off the track on
the back side and Ray Heppenstall's Jomar broke down and went into a spectacular skid at the
head of the home stretch
Except for the fact the spills ruined the driver's chances, the in-cidents did little more than prove a bit of excitement.
VIR President Ed Kemm said he was well pleased
with the results of opening day. While some minor faults were found, cor-rections were rapidly being made for today's
Attendance was just about what had been expected yesterday. More than 3,000
tickets were sold at the gate, plus the advance tickets plus the many pass-carriers.
State Police of Virginia and North Carolina, and traffic officers at the
parking sites, kept traffic moving smoothly along. There were no long waits, no
jams and relatively little dust.
As a result of this and the super program offered today, the largest crowd
ever to view a sports event in this area is expected at the Milton track,
located 11 miles East of Danville.
The more than 5,000 persons in attendance yesterday were "swallowed
up" In the spacious 200-acre infield of the track. There was more than
enough room for all to find good locations to watch the spectacle.
It was one of the hottest days of the year and the 10 concession stands were
kept busy. Those who attended were telling their friends who will join them
today to dress for the heat, bring along a camp stool or pillow and an umbrella
will be handy.
Today's program will have to move rapidly because of the 265.6 miles of
racing offered. That there will be few delays was promised by Chief Steward
George Zuver-who, incidentally, was not happy when
the first race was five minutes late starting.
Just prior to the initial race, Congressman William M. Tuck cut the ribbon
opening the track. He was introduced by Delegate C. Stuart Wheatley and
complimented the founders of the track. He declared the drivers are setting an
example for America's youth in confining racing to the track. Mayor Curtis
Bishop gave the invocation. Grand Prix racing came to the South with the
playing of the Star-Spangled Banner and Dixie.
Highlights And Sidelights Of Day At VIR
- It's a hot day for the races
and the well in the paddock just ran low.
- Congressman William M. Tuck
arrives in front of the pagoda at 35 minutes before race time--not in a Maserati, not in a Ferrari nor a Jaguar. He is nursing
the steering wheel of an air-conditioned Cadillac bearing license No. 3.
He set no speed records.
- During time trials, just
after lunch, blond and tanned Charlie Wallace of Washington took care of
any speed marks. He roared his XKSS Jaguar around the "dangerous
dozen" at an average of 88.6 miles per hour - a mark that many
thought might hold for some time to come.
- Carroll Shelby's Maserati, No. 98, made it around the course in just
two-tenths of a second less than did Wallace, Walter Hansgen was one
second behind, but later came back to tie Wallace.
- The official ceremonies
started on the nose, except that the sound system doesn't work until
Delegate Stuart Wheatley of Danville presented Congressman William Tuck.
Many years of success are wished by the former governor from this, his
native Halifax County. He is handed a set of scissors by VIR President Ed Kemm and snips the red four-inch ribbon across the
- Twenty one of the smaller
racers immediately started warming up as Head Starter Jesse Coleman
anxiously paces the white stripe. Twenty roared away at 2:05 as Wiley G.
Reid's DB Panhard (No. 109) has trouble
starting. He gets off 10 seconds later. And trails the others by that much
after the first lap. Spectators along the paddock are saying that when
time came for drivers to raise their hands to signify they were ready,
Reid was waving his arm back and forth. His car wasn't ready but the
signal wasn't discernible farther up the track.
- The leader of the first lap
ever run at VIR is J. Ed Hugus pushing an Alfa
Romeo, owned by William M. Speer. Allen Markelson's
Alfa Romeo is close behind. Robert Grossman, in the same make machine, is
third by a half length. They hold the same positions on the second of seven
- No. 109 finally came
by-sputtering with Reid shaking his head.
- After three laps, Hugus' No. 13 has a lead of 1,500 feet.
- The real race is for second
place, with Markelson and Grossman still side by
side in front of the Paddock. Grossman passes on horseshoe bend and leads
by a couple of lengths at the end of the seventh lap.
has lapped Reid's crippled machine after four laps. Reid draws laughter
and cheers as he shakes his body bock and forth as if trying to keep the
sputtering craft rolling.
- After five rounds Hugus holds his lead. Grossman moves 500 feet out
front and Markelson's third place is being
challenged by Templeton Briggs, also in an Alfa Romeo. All four leaders
are competing in Class G Production.
opens up a 2,000-foot lead after six laps. Grossman holds his margin in
second place and Markelson recovers a 200-foot
lead over Briggs.
- No. 109 is still in there. He
is doing better.
wins the first race at by a half mile. Grossman captures second and Markelson is third
- No. 109 finished - and is
cheered. Some bets are paid off.
completed the seven laps at an average speed of 67.05 miles per hour. He
made the 22.4 miles in 20 minutes, three and six-tenths seconds. Second
place in G Production was Grossman's 20:25. Martelson's
time was 20:29.
- Two other classes of slower
cars were racing at the same time. Among the MG's
top winners are Harry Beck, D. Muir III, and John R. Ryan, respectively.
- In Class H. Modified, the top
winners were: George F. Tipsword, in the tiny Bandini; Howard Hanna in his DB and Walter F. Martin
in a Crosley.
- Just as the second race was
ready to start at 2:45, the ambulance is called out to care for a
spectator with sunstroke. They are whirling away at 2:51.
- No. 140, a Porsche 550
piloted by Robert Holbert takes the lead from
Charlie Wallace after the first turn, He widens the lead to 500 feet on
the first turn. Wallace is being closely pursued by Donald Sesslar, also in a Porsche 550.
- No. 3, an MGTD In Class F Modified
brings up the rear after one lap.
- At the end of the second lap Holbert leads and Sesslar is
600 feet back. Wallace just went off the track on the sharp turn leading
into the home stretch.
leads by 700 feet after three laps, and no one is even close to Sesslar's second place. When they get around, the
other leaders are Gaston Andrey in a Ferrari,
John A. Middleton III in a Ferrari, Charles W. Kolb in a Triumph Monza and
M.R.J. Wylie in a Lotus.
has lapped No. 3 - Dick Lord - when he completes four laps. Sesslar and Andrey hold
second and third.
- After five laps, it is Holbert and Sesslar all
alone-with the lead of a mile in front of third place Andrey.
- After six laps, the leaders
hold but Middleton has taken third place from Andrey.
wins over Sesslar by some 200 feet.
- It is a new course record,
naturally, Holbert, who hails from Warrington,
Pa., shoved his Porche 500 around the 22.4 miles
in 18 minutes, 23 and two-tenths seconds for an average speed of 73 miles
The race results:
FIRST RACE (7 Laps, 25 Miles) (Class G Production, Class F MGs and H sports).
Overall and Class G Prod.
- Ed Hughes, Pittsburgh, Pa.,
- Bob Grossman. West Nyack,
N.Y., Alfa Romeo.
- Alan Markelson,
New York, N.Y., Alfa Romeo.
- Harry Beck, Newcastle, Del..
- David Muir, Norfolk, Va.,
- John Ryan, Cutler Ridge.
Class H Sports
- George Tipsword,
Lawrenceville, M., Bandini.
- Howard Hanna, Broomall. Pa..
- Walter Martin, Roaring
Springs, Pa., Crosley.
Winning Time: 20:03.6 minutes, average 67.05 m.p.h.
SECOND RACE (7 Laps, 25 Miles) Class E, F and G Sports)
- Bob Holbert,
Warrington, Pa., Porsche 550.
- Don Sesslar,
Lancaster, Ohio, Porsche 550.
- John Middleton, Barrington. Ill.,
Class E Sports
- John Middleton, Barrington.
- Gaston Andrey,
Newton, Mass., Ferrari
- Charles Kolb, W. Hyattsville,
Md., Triumph Special.
Class F Sports
- Bob Holbert
Warrington, Pa., Porsche 550
- Don Sesslar,
Lancaster, Ohio, Porsche 550,
- Dick Thompson. Washington
D.C., Porsche GT.
Class G Sports
- M.R.J. Wyllie, Allison Park,
- Bob Weller, Toledo, Oh.,
- Roy Shecter,
Miami, Fla., Lotus
Winning time: 18:23.2 minutes, average 73.0 m.p.h.
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