VIR - 1965 October SCCA Regional Races
Race Report by Gordon Warren

Virginia International Raceway - October 16-17, 1965


Say, troops, we held a Regional at VIR on the weekend of October 16, and it turned out as a rather nice weekend with a casual, relatively relaxed, low pressure atmosphere to it.

Contributing factors to the atmosphere were a small field of cars because of two other Regionals in the N.E. Division plus the fact that too many previous weekends had taken their toll, balmy early-fall weather - no rain (Shazam!), and few spectators because: (a) the word got out late, (b) there were a few big home-football games in the area, and (c) Fred Lorenzen was running one of the greatest races NASCAR has been this season with A.J. Foyt at the Charlotte 400. In fact, there were so few spectators that the people trying to sneak in stuck out like a Klansman at a camp meeting, causing crowd control to run their tails off. (Gee, you can't even watch a race anymore)

No big production iron showed up, the larged being a CP Porsche who elected to run EM on Sunday, and with only a few modified cars, racing was confined to the smaller production ranks, but the drivers therein seemed to enjoy carving each other up and exploring the boonies, so race personnel at least got a show for their money. Only one FV showed, and he got a couple of laps of practice on Saturday before the VW parentage showed at the second turn. Since no other V's showed up on Sunday, the driver spent the day working a flag station - some people just like the sport. The bad thing was that his help was needed. Flag and Communications had troubles all weekend. Barely enough people showed up to work the flag stations, but what few were there did a fine job. Also, we barely had enough equipment, and Communications found itself not communicating at times.

Flags fell apart or needed painting, phones were in the shop, equipment had to be allotted very carefully, and the phone system acted as though it was held together by bubble gum. Everything finally worked but something will have to be done before next year. No matter how hard the sponsor tries to keep things together, he is running short. Sure, it would be nice if VIR had well developed campsites, and more and better "heads", and a new track surface, but at least good racing can be had without them - not so with the F&C and safety equipment, however. The overhead bridge helped everyone, but more is needed. The fact that everyone has to depend on everyone else, and that it is going to take work and money to make money to make improvements, etc., makes things pretty frustrating at times. Do any of you have any suggestions?

For the most part, however, things went smoothly under the watchful eyes of Chief Steward, Joe Sargent. "Hey, look at that one in blue". "I wonder how she got into those things". "She couldn't have gotten into them, she had to be born in them." "Quick, hand me the binoculars." 'When are we going to have a race?" "It seems control is getting a little crowded here, fella." "All right you guys, let's knock it off in here."

Races were held for three groupings: All-Mods plus C and DP, G and HP plus Sedans, and E and F Production, with five lap races on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning. Then a Novice Race, ten lap races for the same classes, and finally a seven-lap, "Run What You Bring" race for all cars.

The Mods included a CM Chev. powered thing, a GM Elva 7, an old 4-banger Ferrari, and the 1963 HM National Championship Zink-Petite - the Elva by far the fastest.

The D cars swapped positions all weekend, but in general the MGB's were mildly prepared, if at all, and slow, the lone TVR was moderately quick, and the TR4's were strung out through the field with a couple of Group 44 prepared cars by far the quickest and the winners.

The G and H cars were led from far in front by Pat Mernone (Morgan) and Dick Staples (Spitfire) who had their own thing going - flying by the Pagoda side-by-side, and playing tag through the turns with smoke pouring from the TR's tires and finally from other places. The H cars were highlighted by Horne and Blount who kept their Team Dragon Sprites at the front more times than once. George had a nice handful of silver Sunday afternoon but poor Henry, after winning Saturday, found that his oil was not lubricant, and that no amount of powdered hand soap would help the situation. The lone Fiat-Abarth of Sam Caronia kept everyone talking when it was running by exploring lines through turns where angels feared to tread. How much of the show was provided by the car with its excess body putty in various places, and how much was provided by Sam, who takes any corner flat-out at all times, is a question to be asked only by those who don't know that Sam has found a way to overcome all natural laws of Physics. Great fun for all. The Sedans were represented by Woody Culp., whose Corvair kept some of the cars behind him, while he was on course, by putting its tail where they were trying to go. Also on the scene were a Mini-Cooper (hop, skip, jump through the turns) and a Renault Gordine that sounded beautiful, even when it scattered its little innards on the back straight on Sunday.

Some of the most interesting racing went on in the E and F Production ranks. Four Elva Couriers, a few MGA's, a lonely Alpine, a smattering of Porsches, and some very swift TR3's stayed in fairly close company all weekend with the closest racing provided by one of the Couriers and a stupendously fast TR-3 - it looked, sounded, and acted like one of Ed Diehl's former creations, but I believe it was a group 44 prepared car.

The last race of the weekend was reminiscent of the old Goblin's Go's - anyone who made it to the line could race on a car-to-car basis - no handicaps. Only a few to this day know how the grid was originally worked out, but everyone had another chance. At the end of three laps, the order was FP-TR3, EP-Courier, GP-Morgan, followed by a conglomeration of DP through HP cars and Sedans. The Mog dropped out and the TR3 went on to win, and everyone else enjoyed shutting the door on TR-4's with Sprites.

Altogether, it was an enthusiast's weekend - and there is just something about loud little cars, Castrol fumes and wood smoke, and Autumn weather with trees in color that makes one even more of an enthusiast. The Fall races at VIR are rather enjoyable.

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