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They opened Virginia International Raceway in August, a few months later than the spring planned inaugural, but Carroll Shelby was there just the same to demand the starring role.
Just a few weeks before John Edgar had flown in a big monster 4.5 Maserati from Italy, and the lanky Texan with the lucky overalls took great pleasure in guiding the dark red mechanism around the rolling roads of VIR. However, he did not turn the best time trial, that was left to Walt Hansgen in a D-Jaguar at 78.95 m.p.h.
This August Inaugural, bringing "most unusual" weather (from 100-degree heat and sun to a sudden wind and rainstorm), afforded one of the top thrills in the course's history, not past, since that is brief, but future as well. Hansgen was on the pole, Charlie Wallace next to him in another D-Jag. Shelby sat third, alongside Rich Lyeth in a 4.5 Ferrari. On the first start Wallace rolled a bit, and it was recalled. On the next one Wallace stalled momentarily, and in that split second Shelby pushed the monster Maser like a shot ... to take the lead before the first turn at Horseshoe Bend.
There was no catching the drawling Texan after that. He was first trailed by Hansgen, John Kilborn, Paul O'Shea, Lyeth and Wallace, and then Shelby began to string 'em out. He did not have to press the big car, actually coasting home seven seconds ahead of Hansgen in the time of 78.21 m.p.h. Wallace rallied to take third in the 20 lap (64 miles) feature.
The big Texan in the bigger Maserati certainly stole the VIR Inaugural show.
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