Just two weeks after a raw, cold weekend at Marlboro, we found many of the same people at V.I.R. concerning themselves with sunburn and heat prostration!
The race weekend couldn't have been better. There was a large crowd on hand, good representation in most all classes (132 cars were put through safety inspection), and fine organization which accounted for the events running smoothly.
Much of the VIR story was rain, and lots of it! Here Ben Warren's Elva throws a cloud of spray on following RSK of Joe Buzzetta. Photo by Joe Edison
Continuing his winning form in an Alfa, Jack Crusoe was first in GP, only 17 seconds behind Sesslar's Sunbeam which was first overall and in FP. Photo by Action Ltd.
We present J. Gordon's OSCA, winner of HM. What do you vote for? Is it understeer, curring the wheels to break the rear loose, or what? Photo by Action Ltd.
On Saturday, when the sun was bright, the track was fast. We had the watches out early to catch the times of the "hot shoes" in the tbree-lap qualifying races. Following are the times of the lead cars in each class:
|H Production||3:11||FIAT-Abarth||Ed Astri|
|G Production||2:55||Alfa Romeo||Jack Crusoe|
|F Production||2:51||Sunbeam||Don Sesslar|
|E Production||2:52||TR-3||Ed Diehl|
|D Production||2:52||SIATA||Don Erlbeck|
|C Production||2:40||Lotus Super 7||Dave Clark|
|B Production||2:35||Corvette||Don Yenko|
|A Production||2:28||Corvette||Dick Thompson|
|H Modified||2:55||OSCA||John Gordon|
|G Modified||2:35||Lola||Art Tweedale|
|F Modified||2:25||Porsche RSK||Bob Bucher|
|E Modified||2:22||Porsche RS61||Bob Holbert|
|D Modified||2:21||Cooper Monaco||Roger Penske|
|C Modified||2:25||Maserati 300S||Charlie Kolb|
|F. Jr.||2:24||Cooper||Pete Revson|
|F. 3||2:41||Cooper||John Field|
These times are not only interesting in comparison with each other, but are quite a bit quicker than previous years.
One of the early favorites for the President's Cup was Dick Thompson on the Momo prepared Cooper-Buick. But the car was retired early on Saturday due to bearing problems, and the crew's attention was turned to the details of preparing the Cooper-Maserati of the same stable to be driven by Walt Hansgen.
After an enjoyable evening at the SCCA cocktail party, most everyone was on hand by 10:30 AM Sunday to see the first race. Not only did F, G, H Production, H Modified and Sedans come to the grid, but so did the rain!
The slippery track might have affected some, but not the Sunbeam of Don Sesslar. He led from the first lap to take FP, and was followed in by Charles Cantwell's MGA. Third overall, and first in GP, was Jack Crusoe's Alfa, only 17 seconds behind Sesslar after 45 minutes of rain driving. Eighth overall and second GP was Pete Van Der Vate's flying Sprite.
Fifty-eight seconds behind the overall winner came the OSCA driven by John Gordon to take H Modified; and over a lap off the pace, but first in H Production, was Ed Astri's FIAT-Abarth. Frank Fuller's SAAB won the sedan race, finishing ahead of Buttery's Corvair.
The Formula Juniors bomb through in a race that was won by Hansgen's Cooper, with Penske second in another Cooper, and Aaskov third in a Lotus. Photo by Action Ltd.
Dave Clark, the sensational rookie who took so many wins last year, took his Lotus Super 7 to the checkered flag in C Production. Photo by Action Ltd.
Roger Penske just rolls along like Old Man River, winning the big ones. As RE Dave Roethel and Lisa Penske look on happily, Roger accepts the President's Cup from General Curtis LeMay
At 11:30 AM the rain stopped, and the D and E Production race started. Bob Tullius, who is now leading Class E in points with his Triumph, got into the first turn ahead of the Class D Porsches and Alfas. He held them off for two laps. Finally ~he Porsche of Herb Everett got by and, two laps later, Mangelson's Alfa did the same. Meanwhile, Gurnee's TR-4, Diehl's TR-3 and Signore's Elva had moved up through the traffic and were running within striking distance of Tullius. Also in the tight pack of D and E cars was Reed Rollo's Alfa, hot after Mangelson. On the sixth lap it started to rain again, and the race took on a completely new complextion. Tullius kept going, but his pursuers in Class E dropped back steadily. The lead Alfas and the Porsches seemed to really pour it on and finished 50 seconds ahead of the TR-3. The Mangelson and Rollo Alfa's ran the last half of the race only one second apart - and finished that way. Tullius won EP by some fourteen seconds over Gurnee's new TR-4.
The third race of the day was for Formula jr.'s and 3's. Walt Hansgen, who had not qualified on Saturday, started "scratch" in his Cooper. Within two laps he moved into first place ahead of Roger Penske, at an average speed of 81.3 mph. Floyd Aaskov's Lotus was running third, but seemed to be having engine trouble. Pete Revson was holding fourth in another Cooper until the ninth lap when he left the track and hit Reed Rollo's stalled Elva, totaling both automobiles.
By the eleventh lap Hansgen had a 22-second lead over Penske, and Pierre Mion moved into fourth in his front-engined Stanguellini. Meanwhile, John Field's Cooper Formula 3 advanced to sixth place and first in class after Charlie Kolb, John Gadwa and Jerry McCammon retired. The rest of the race was run without incident and ended in the above order.
A, B and C Production machines were next. Dick Thompson had the pole in a Corvette, and was sided by Bob Grossman's Ferrari. When the flag fell we witnessed one of the greatest drag races for production cars ever staged. Thompson ducked into the first turn ahead of Grossman. When they came around Thompson still had it by about a second. By the second lap Don Yenko was in fourth place and first B Production Corvette ahead of four other Corvettes with "A" engines. Back in the pack, starting sixteenth overall, was Dave Clark's Lotus Super 7 leading a pair of Daimlers and Morgans and a new Alfa 2000. On the ninth lap Grossman eased ahead of Thompson in the tight curve at the end of the pit straight, and led by a few car lengths until the seventeenth lap. On the eighteenth Thompson made a bid to regain the lead on the treacherous down-hill esses and got by. Then Grossman pitted with much indignation, and it was finally learned that he had passed Thompson on a yellow flag and was disqualified by the Chief Steward. The remainder of the race was run without any change in the lead cars. It was Thompson in the "A" Corvette, and Don Yenko scoring his second straight B Production victory in his Corvette after a race-long duel with Bruce Jennings' Porsche Carrera. First C Production car in was the Lotus Super 7 of Dave Clark.
The President's Cup for modified cars started at 3:30 PM, and was cut to two and one-half hours because of darkness. Twenty cars lined the grid and seemed to be slowly filling up with water. It was raining so hard the track couldn't drain fast enough, and a sheet of water covered the entire asphalt. Penske had the pole in his Cooper Monaco. Beside him was Bob Holbert's 1700cc EM Porsche RS61; Charlie Kolb was third in his CM Maserati 300S. At the start Penske grabbed t~he lead by a second over Holbert, and on the second time around had increased it to ten seconds. The rain continued steadily and the cars were almost completely obscured from the spectators. Hansgen, who had started sixteenth on the grid, moved up into second place ahead of Holbert on the second lap and was closing on Penske. On the third lap Roger pitted quickly to deflate his tires, and dropped to fourth position behind Art Tweedale and his Lola GM. Then Kolb pitted for the same reason, as did seven or eight others, and the scorers were losing their minds.
Fifteen minutes into the race the cars seemed to be just creeping down the pit straightthat is, all but Hansgen who had increased his lead by 35 seconds over Holbert and 65 seconds over Penske, who had just repassed Tweedale. By 4:00 PM the race had run one-half hour, and Hansgen had a 1:23 lead on Penske and 1:13 lead over Holbert; evidently he was one person who didn't mind the rain a bit. John Todd's Warwick GT 350, running CM and efficient windshield wipers, moved into fourth place ahead of Tweedale. At 4: 10 PM the water finally got to Hansgen's spark plugs and he was forced to pit, leaving Holbert and Penske running 1-2 only three seconds apart.
Then the rain stopped and, as the track drained, Penske moved into the lead ahead of Holbert, and Tweedale closed the gap on the Warwick. Hansgen was in the pits less than eight minutes, but when he rejoined the race found himself a little over two laps off the pace and in ninth position. Now the chase was on, and evervone's stop watch timed Hansgen and Penske. After clocking the two Cooper Monacos for a few laps, it was apparent that Hansgen was catching Penske at a rate of seven or eight seconds per lap! With an hour and one-half to go, it didn't look like he could make up the deficit. Meanwhile, the Porsche RSK's of Joe Buzzetta and Bob Bucher had overtaken the Warwick and moved in behind Tweedale's Lola.
By 5: 00 PM Holbert was right behind Penske and Hansgen had come up to sixth behind the Porsches, but still one lap behind the leaders. At 5:30 PM, with only one-half hour to go, Hansgen passed Tweedale into third position and was ready to pass the lead cars. The scorers knew he was a lap behind, but he didn't - nor did Penske. For the next fifteen minutes or so Hansgen, Penske and Holbert drove to the limit, with Hansgen finally passing and moving out by ten or fifteen seconds, and what be thought to be a safe lead. At 6 PM, when Tex Hopkins officially ended the race, it was a surprised Penske who took the victory lap, and a disappointed Hansgen who had to settle for third behind Holbert.