The Daily Tar Heel 10/67?

Virginia International Raceway Event Draws Jennings, Mernone


This weekend's sports car event at Virginia International Raceway has attracted two well-known racing figures, Bruce Jennings and Patricia Mernone of Washington. Both will enter Porsches in production car competition.

Jennings, known as the "Mr. Porsche" of the East Coast, not only has driven every breed of the German-made machine, but was also behind the wheel of Chrysler Corporation's Barracuda entry in the 1966 Trans-American series. He was also chosen by Jim Hall, designer of the highly successful Chaparral racing cars, to drive his 1965 Sebring team.

Hall's confidence in Jennings' driving is well founded. Jennings proved this recently in the Marlboro Trans-American race when in a Porsche 911, he drove for two hours turning record lap times and demonstrating the consistency and smoothness every endurance driver dreams of.

Appearing with a 911 S Porsche will be Patricia Mernone, one of the country's best women drivers. The same Porsche has captured four first place wins out of five starts in national races this summer, although Pat admits she has only been in the car "about 20 minutes.

Pat, an editorial assistant for the American Chemical Society, has been on the VIR track in a Morgan. The Porsche ride this weekend constitutes a big step in class to a much faster automobile.

"I've got a great deal of work to do and I'm stepping out of my league," Pat states, "but there is no where else I'd rather get used to a new car than VIR. I consider it the finest road course on the East Coast. It is truly a driver's course, more fun than Riverside, more difficult than Daytona, and I think a Formula 1 race there would have more driver interest than Watkins Glen."

You can't learn a course like VIR in one weekend," she explains, "you have to keep coming back. The first time the downhill esses seem the most difficult; then next time you want to see if you can go flat out through the uphill esses. With each car it is different and the challenge is endless."

Pat said she once counted the courses she had driven on in the United States and the number came to sixteen, "but I think many of the high quality national drivers agree with me that they'd never pass up a chance to drive at VIR."

Practice starts at 10:00 Saturday, October 28, for the Annual Goblin Go at VIR, 14 miles east of Danville in Milton, N.C.