Virginia International Raceway Regionals

Today's Motor Sports, February 1963  
(thanks to Gordon Warren)
Photos by Myers Walker

The "Goblin's Go", North Carolina Region, SCCA's October regionals held at Virginia International Raceway, got off to a very cold and slow start Saturday morning. Practice was relatively uneventful, allowing the usual banged fenders and excursions through the pasture as drivers learned the tricky 3.2-mile course - one of the best in the nation from a driver's point of view - but no serious accidents.

Harold Whims managed to warm things up a little during time trials though. His Lotus 7 ran out of gas somewhere on the back straight and he coasted into a flag station to get out of the way. The hot exhaust hit dry grass and fire broke out. Luckily the Lotus was unhurt but VIR lost a good stand of grass and it took some three-quarters of an hour for the fire department to get matters under control. By the time qualifying was finished there was little daylight left and Bob Swanson, chief steward, elected to run only one of the day's three scheduled races. It was a five-lap go for G and H Production and H Modifieds won by George Avent in a Begra Mk IIIA.

ABOVE RIGHT: Tweedale follows Shaw into the beginning of the uphill chicane. One lap later order is reversed.

ABOVE LEFT: Arthur Tweedale, winner of the Goblin's Go.
ABOVE RIGHT: Pete Van der Vate, winner of 'Lil Goblin's Go
BELOW LEFT: Tombstone Shaw (CM Lister-Corvette) and John Fulp (DM Ferrari) play follow-the-leader.
BELOW RIGHT: Ron Gooding (AP Corvette) winner of the novice race leads the pack through a crowded turn. No. 5 Lola, Joe Sargent; No. 39 Lotus XI, Don Michalove; No,74 Porsche, Ed Franco-Ferreirra; No. 2 Corvette, Wilton Jowett..


Sunday morning racing got under way bright and early and things went along more smoothly in spite of the cold weather and the tinder-dry condition of the pasture that is the infield of VIR. One spectator managed to upset a charcoal grill, complete with his breakfast, in rather close proximity to the pagoda and there was much rushing about among the officials who had cars parked nearby. There were a few anxious moments, but the only casualty was the breakfast.

The first race of the day was the five-lapper for E and F Production, rescheduled from Saturday. Everett Smith (Elva Courier) had earned the No. 1 grid position and never let anyone come near him, taking first overall and first in EP with little effort. The car to watch in this race was the Austin-Healey 100-4 of Dave Charles, as he threaded his way through the pack from ninth on the grid to take second overall and second in EP.

The last of the re-scheduled races, the catch-all for what was left, was announced as A through D Production, and C through G Modified. The grid call saw an AP Corvette, two DP cars, Porsche, Austin-Healey, and an asortment of modified machines. Milt Pappas in a Lotus XI took first. This particular car turns up at each race with a new owner-but continues to win!

A novice race followed, bringing out 15 new addicts and producing one of the saddest and most spectacular crashes of the day. Frank Baptista's driving-partner, Ralph Long, totaled Frank's beautiful Elva VI - a rather rare bird these days - before Frank even had a chance to get on the course.

Then came seven-lap duplicates of the five-lap races, giving every car that managed to stay together a chance at three races, two sprints and a feature during the weekend. All this in spite of the numerous delays and problems of the early part of the weekend.

Pete Van der Vate in a remarkable GP Sprite made easy work of the "Lil Goblin's Go", 45 minute feature for F, G and H Production and H Modified. From the third lap when he first took the lead it was Pete's race all the way. This little car looks almost too good to be legal, but there are those around Marlboro who can swear that it is, having had a rather expensive look-see for themselves a while back

The Goblin's Go was 60 solid minutes of the most exciting racing you'll ever see. Graham (Tombstone) Shaw with his Lister-Corvette and Art Tweedale in a Lola fought it out the whole way with the Lister gaining in the straights and the Lola catching up in the comers. It's hard to imagine a C-Modified car and a G-Modified car so perfectly matched. They had lapped the rest of the field by lap 22 when Shaw overdid it a bit coming into the downhill chicane and left the course just long enough for Tweedale to pass. The 23rd lap saw Shaw breathing down Art's exhaust until the very same spot on the downhill chicane. This time the Lister went roaring off the track and vanished in a puff of smoke. About the time Tweedale crossed the line the clock ran out and the stragglers were given the checkered flag. No one was paying any attention to anything but the smoke rising from the spot where Shaw had disappeared, until Tweedale rolled into the pit lane. He'd ran out of gas and barely made it back. His crew refueled frantically and got him across the finish line - in the pit lane - in time to beat Guy Marvin (Lotus XI). Marvin, completely unnoticed in all the excitement, had been driving a beautiful race about a lap behind the leaders. It later turned out that all of Shaw's "smoke" was steam from a ruptured radiator and not fire as had been feared.

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