Virginia International Raceway - August 3-4, 1957
Danville Bee - 8/3/57
The Virginia International Raceway, 11 miles east of Danville near Milton, officially opened today with the nation's top sports car drivers engaging in speed-for-thrill Grand Prix racing. Throughout the morning, time trials were run off with some of the cars clocked at an average of better than 80 miles per hour - hitting 150 mph on the straightaways and -gearing down to 30 mph on sharp turns.
Official opening ceremonies at 1:55 p. m. were followed by two races involving 50 of the smaller speedsters. The larger Jags, Maseratis and Ferraris were to take the track in the late afternoon in warm-up runs for tomorrow's full program.
Racing fans were given a taste today of what to expect on Sunday's seven-race program opening at 10 a. in. and continuing until late afternoon.
Some 120 cars will be competing in the various categories on Sunday. It will be Grand Prix racing at its best.
Gates will open early tomorrow morning for the expected thousands of spectators. Those at the track today were passing the word to come prepared for a full daydress comfortably, be prepared to roam the infield to watch the drivers at different points and bring along a cushion since there are no grandstand seats.
Concession stands were in full operation today and fans were kept fully informed by the 30 loudspeakers throughout the race area. Some fans found that the best place to sit and watch was on a hillside opposite the infield where five curves are within full view. Others preferred the railing on the infield to watch top speeds on the long straight-aways.
In practice runs yesterday, Charlie Wallace, Carroll Shelby and Dr. Richard Thompson emerged as drivers to watch out front. All three toured the 3.2 miles in better than 80 miles per hour.
Wallace was competing today in a Porche RS Spyder owned by Jack Pry, No. 0, and will be at the wheel of a Jaguar tomorrow. He was clocked at 83.5 in the Jag and 82 In the Spyder in yesterday's warm-up session.
Shelby roared around the asphalt "dangerous dozen" in a new 4.5-liter Maserati in almost identically the same time. With a wide grin, the slender Texan said afterwards that he's rarin' to go tomorrow.
Dr. Thompson, a youthful Washington dentist is facing a full day of racing tomorrow. He will be using at least three separate cars - the top one being an XKSS Jaguar in which he whistled around the track in 2:33 yesterday.
No time was obtained yesterday on Walt Hansgen's D-M Jag in which he captured the SCCA event at Marlboro Md., but the word was that it was good enough to label a favorite.
Other cars that will be capturing the fancy of the spectators are the new Mercedes-Benz SL 300 roadster being piloted by Paul O'Shea and the Jaguar of John Fitch.
That there may be more to see than routine Driving was indicated yesterday when Tommy Fox skidded and flipped his Lotus. He was unhurt and was trying to get the speedy little machine ready to run this afternoon.
President Ed Kemm of VIR, who was on the track shortly after dawn today looking after details, pronounced all in readiness for the inaugural.
Photos - They're Off and Running at VIR Inaugural
Trial runs got underway early this morning at the new Virginia International Raceway east of Danville, with the first official race on schedule at 2 p.m. These scenes are typical of the activity.
In the top view, last minute checks are made by crewmen as drivers await the signal to move out of pit alley onto the raceway. Most of the speedy cars are foreign makes.
Two cars speed down the straightway in front of the pagoda at an estimated 130 miles per hour, headed for horseshoe bend which they take at about 40 mph.
Four cars on the lower chicane get the Yellow flag for caution as word is flashed that a truck is on the track. There are 21 of these safety stations.
The bottom view shows participants in a "family feud." The man and wife team is John and Evelyn Mull. Both drive AC Bristols in the E classification. They will compete, with others, in the first race tomorrow, starting at 10 a. m.
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