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Note from webmaster Nick England - I will periodically add photos and links to races as I get time
Virginia International Raceway provides an ideal setting to enjoy a quiet, peaceful day. A former working farm located on the banks of the Dan River just across the state line from the historic town of Milton, North Carolina, the 1200 acres offer a visitor the opportunity to experience a combination of lush rolling hills and well-manicured fields surrounded by old-growth timber of pine and oak trees. The farm was known as South Bend Plantation during its heyday during the 1800's. Today the plantation house and stone dairy barns survive but the cows and corn have been replaced.
In 1957 a group of enterprising sports car racers from nearby Greensboro leased the farm and constructed one of the first and finest road racing facilities in the United States. The track in its original form, operated from 1957 until 1974 and hosted some of the most important races and drivers in the history of road racing in America. For a variety of reasons the track closed in the fall of 1974 and remained idle until rescued and reopened in the spring of 2000 by New Yorkers Harvey Siegel and Connie Nyholm.
Today, due to the renovation making VIR one of the most desirable facilities in the country for both racing and testing, there is rarely a day when the surrounding hills do not echo with the sound of engines in cars driven by the heroes of modern sports car and stock car racing. Still, on both busy and quiet days, racing fans and historians can take time to gaze across the grounds and both see and hear images in their imagination of past VIR appearances by some of automobile racing's past legends.
Thanks to the efforts of Nick England, Gordon Warren, Roger Blanchard and others a record has been preserved for fans to remember the names and faces that made VIR so important to road racing history. A short and incomplete list follows in alphabetical order.
TONY ADAMOWICZ co-drove the Group 44 Dodge Dart with Bob Tullius in the July 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am He drove a Group 44 Spitfire in the April 1967 VIR Nationals and won in B Sedan class in a Ford Cortina. He was first SCCA Formula A Continental Pro series champion in 1969 and won under 2 liter Trans Am championship in 1968
GASTON ANDREY entered the inaugural 1957 VIR race in Mike Garber's Ferrari Mondail and finished 3rd and 10th on Saturday and Sunday. He returned in May and October of 1958 in Garber's Testa Rossa. He drove the Ferraris to E Modified National Championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. For the 1961 President's Cup race Garber had purchased a Tipo 61 "Birdcage" Maserati to match the Briggs Cunningham entries. Andrey finished 3rd behind Walt Hansgen and Roger Penske. Andrey's final VIR appearance was as a co-driver with Horst Kweck in a factory Alfa Romeo GTA at the VIR 400 Trans Am. They finished 3rd overall and won the under 2-liter class. Andrey and Kweck went on to finish the season on top of the overall points battle and ahead of the Detroit "muscle cars" that the Trans Am was created to promote.
ANATOLY "TOLY" ARUTUNOFF entered a Morgan 4/4 in the September 1968 and September 1969 H Production contests. He had been accustomed to much more exotic racers, having competed in the 1967 Targa Florio in a Ferrari 250 GT SWB and in the same event in 1963 in a Lancia. He qualified for the runoffs in 1975 in his Morgan and set the fastest lap and a new Road Atlanta lap record. His greatest ARRC success came in 1981 when he took the Morgan to an H Production National championship and was awarded The President's Cup.
RICHARD ATTWOOD drove an Alan Mann prepared Ford Lotus Cortina in the VIR 400 Trans Am in July of 1966.He drove for Lotus, BRM, and Cooper in Formula 1 from 1965-1969 and won 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and finished 2nd in 1971 in a Porsche
FRANK BAPTISTA was the current SCCA G Modified National champion from the 1956 season when he entered the inaugural race at VIR in August of 1957. His Lotus X Monza was nicknamed the "Batmobile" by spectators. He failed to finish his race on both Saturday and Sunday, spinning out of contention in each race. He told the local press that he had chosen the wrong tires. Tires were a problem for him again in the October race but this time his problem was mud on his tires after he spun out of a substantial lead in turn one and then slid into the mire in turn three allowing Doc Wyllie to win after the two had waged a race-long battle. Despite his misfortune at VIR, Baptista was able to repeat his G Modified championship for 1957. In May of 1958 Baptista overcame his VIR jinx and won two races for G Modified in his Elva. He finished second in October and took the G Modified championship for the third year in a row.
JOHN BAUCOM has won three SCCA National championships, including two in one year in 2000. That performance earned him the 2000 SCCA President's Cup, a special status among VIR alumni. A regular competitor in the SCCA Trans Am series, he made his first appearances at VIR in 2002 when he entered an SCCA regional and the October 27th Trans Am.
DEREK BELL did not race at VIR prior to 1974 but drove as a part of the factory-backed Champion Audi team in the October 27, 2002 Speed World Challenge event at VIR. Bell is a five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a three-time winner of the Daytona 24 Hours. He has also won two World Sportscar titles. His Formula 1 career includes drives with Ferrari, Tecno, Surtees and Williams. His visit to VIR took on the appearance of a homecoming/family reunion since his wife Misti is from nearby Rockingham County in North Carolina and the family had a large gathering in the infield for the October races.
SKIP BARBER made his first appearance at VIR in April of 1962 in a FP Turner. The following year in a Lotus 23 he took pole position for the feature race of the weekend ahead of a host of more powerful machine including a Chaparral, a Scarab and a large contingent of Corvettes and Cobras all driven by established drivers. He finished third, behind the Chaparral and the Scarab. His next appearance in April of 1966 also grabbed the attention of onlookers as he took his Brabham BT8 to the lead over Dr Dick Thompson's Ford GT 40 in Saturday's preliminary. On Sunday he finished second to Thompson in the feature race of the weekend. On his return to VIR in September of 1969 he had moved into open-wheeled competition and he set a new course record for Formula Ford in his Caldwell on his way to the SCCA National title. That class record would stand until the course was revived in the year 2000. He repeated his SCCA Formula Ford championship in 1970. That year he also won the Formula B title and was awarded the SCCA President's Cup. In 1971 Philadelphia attorney Gene Mason purchased a new March 711 Formula 1 car and Barber drove it in a number of Grand Prix events in Europe and North America in 1971 and 1972. They also campaigned the F1 March in the American F 5000 series in 1971. After retiring from driving he founded the Skip Barber Racing School.
RANDY CANFIELD first entered his Sprite at VIR in April of 1962. From then until the track closed in 1974 he had a total of 12 entries with 2 National class wins. He has the second largest number of VIR entries along with Doc Wyllie. He set a new HP lap record of 2:33.1 in April of 1974 that stood until the track reopened in 2000. In National Championship competition he won a total of 5 ARRC titles and finished 2nd 11 times. Started racing his HP Sprite in 1961 the year before he first appeared at VIR. He has raced a Sprite in HP for 42 years. He was in 4th place in 2002 runoffs when sidelined by ignition problems. Now 72 and plans on a full season in 2003.
CAESAR CONE attended the inaugural race at VIR as a spectator with several of his high school friends. He returned in 1961 to attend driver's school in an Alfa Romeo. In April of 1966 he finished fourth in class in his F Production Sunbeam Alpine. That same season he and Bill Barnes purchased an Alfa GTA that had been a factory entry in Europe the previous season. The factory brought the car to Sebring and Cone recalls it finished second in the first Trans Am in the under two liter class and third overall. Barnes drove it to second in class in the May VIR National. Cone and Barnes intended to campaign the entire Trans Am series but the car rolled over several times at Saint Louis while being driven by Rasey Feezell. They converted the car to compete in the NASCAR Baby Grand for the rest of the season. Cone's interest in racing revived with the growth of vintage racing. He now drives an Alfa Romeo Duetto and an Ermini prepared by Peter Krause of Krause and England. Both cars have been regular features of VIR vintage races since the track reopened. Cone's participation both before the closing of the track and since the revival makes him a perfect "missing link" between the old track and the new along with Charlie Gibson..
NICK CRAW raced his Formula B Brabham at VIR IN 1968. He was co-driver with Russ Norburn in the Miller & Norburn BMW 2002 that won the B F Goodrich Radial Challenge series in 1973.He started a career as a professional administrator as Executive Director of Project Hope. Later he was appointed Director of The Peace Corps .He also served as President and CEO of the SCCA. He became Executive Director of US Sailing in December of 2001.
ED CRAWFORD first came to VIR in October of 1957 driving Briggs Cunningham's D Jaguar. He finished second to Walt Hansgen. In May of 1958 he qualified on the pole in a Lister Jaguar and finished second to Hansgen again. In 1958 he drove the Lister to victories at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen and twice at Road America. He drove a Birdcage Maserati for Cunningham in 1961 but had to retire from racing because of arthritis. He retired to Florida and enjoyed boating and flying until his death in 1998.
BRIGGS CUNNINGHAM made a major contribution to VIR history and to the history of road racing. Click here for a complete article on Cunningham.
GRADY DAVIS came to VIR in April of 1963 with Corvette Sting Rays for himself, Dr. Dick Thompson and Duncan Black in A Production and a Corvette Grand Sport for Ed Lowther in C Modified. Davis was Executive Vice President of Gulf Oil and had been to driving school at Marlboro in 1958 with Thompson as his instructor. He began sponsoring Thompson in 1961 through Gulf Oil and spared no expense keeping the team at the forefront through 1964 in Corvettes. They later switched to a Ford Cobra in 1965 due to Chevrolet's lack of support for the Corvette Grand Sport. Davis and Thompson returned to VIR in the spring of 1966 with a Ford GT-40 and Thompson won the weekend's feature race and broke the overall VIR course record that had been held by Walt Hansgen since 1961. Davis later took Gulf sponsorship to John Wyer for the legendary Gulf Porsche 917.
MARK DONOHUE first appeared at VIR in April of 1961 and won the E Production contest in his Elva Courier on his way to his first championship, the SCCA E Production title. The following year he sold the Courier and purchased a new Elva Formula Jr. and sent his entry in for the VIR Nationals in April but the frame broke at Sebring and he was a no show at VIR even though he is listed in the program. His next VIR appearance was in April of 1964 in Jack Griffith's Cobra. He took his first National win in a high-powered car. Then he joined Penske Racing and won 2 USRRC championships, 3 Trans Am championships, the Can Am championship and the Indy 500. He retired to manage Penske Racing in 1974 but came out of retirement in 1975 to drive a new Penske in Formula 1. He was killed in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix in August of 1975.
PETE FEISTMAN co-drove a Mustang with Russ Norburn in the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am and was a favorite to win the race until a lengthy pit stop to correct an overheating problem forced the local team into a 2nd place finish. Feistman was 1965 SCCA H Production national champion
JOHN FITCH drove a BMC in G Modified at the April 1963 Nationals. He finished 5th overall and 4th in class. He drove his first race at Bridgehampton in 1949 and by 1950 he began a career-long association with Briggs Cunningham that would continue until they both retired from active driving by sharing a Porsche 904 in the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring. Along the way he became the first SCCA National Champion in 1951 and won the 1953 Sebring 12 Hours in a Cunningham. He was the first and only American chosen as a factory driver for Mercedes Benz.
JIM FITZGERALD will always be remembered as winning the greatest number of SCCA Nationals with over 350 wins. He called VIR his home track. Click here for a complete article on Fitzgerald.
MICHAEL GALATI did not drive at VIR prior to the track's closing but he finished third in his Champion Audi in the October 27, 2002 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT event at VIR and earned his fifth title in the series. He is included here because he joined the long list of VIR alumni who have won the SCCA President's Cup when he received the award in 1994.
FRANK GARDNER drove a Lotus Ford Cortina for Alan Mann in the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am. He and co-driver Dickie Attwood led the under 2-liter class until they broke down 21 laps from the finish. He drove for Brabham-BRM in Formula 1 in 1964, 1965, and 1968. He was European F5000 Champ in 1971. He was a three-time British Touring Car champion.
CHARLIE GIBSON won a G Sports Racing national championship in his Lotus 23 at the Daytona ARRC in 1967. In 1968 the car was re-classified in C Sports Racing and he took a class win in the September Nationals at VIR. He raced professionally in the Canadian Players Formula Atlantic series in a March from 1972 to 1976. In 1977 he formed SASCO Motorsports with partner Dave Handy and they are currently located on the grounds of VIR in the Raceplex. The company prepares customer racing cars and is a leading supplier of tires and equipment for the racing community. He was active in racing at VIR in vintage events until his untimely death in 2003.
RON GRABLE became a fixture on the VIR scene as early as April of 1963 when he appeared in his E Production Porsche. He raced the Porsche until 1966 when he switched to an A Sedan Dodge Dart and won the SCCA national championship. He won another title in Formula A in 1968. In 1970 he traveled to Australia and New Zealand to compete in the Tasman series. Later he would become a regular in both the Trans Am and Formula 5000 series. In 1970 he was selected Road Racer of the Year by The Motor Sports Press Association. He later became a professional journalist, serving as a writer for both Motor Trend and Plane and Pilot magazines. A motorcycle accident in the early 90's left him severely injured.
PETER GREGG won the feature race at VIR in the 1970 SCCA Nationals and for two more consecutive years in the 1971 and 1972 IMSA contests. Click here for a complete article on Gregg.
BOB GROSSMAN finished second to Ed Hugus in the first race on the inaugural weekend at VIR in August of 1957 in an Alfa Romeo. His Jaguar failed to finish later in the day. He returned in October of 1958 with both cars and finished 3rd and 5th. His first VIR win came in May of 1959 when he took C Production honors in a Ferrari California. A month later he drove the same car to 5th overall and first in class in the 24 hours of Le Mans In 1960 he finished first overall in the Ferrari at VIR and later traveled to Le Mans as a driver for Briggs Cunningham's Corvette team. He returned to VIR in 1962 with a Ferrari 250 GT but was disqualified for a passing infraction. His last Ferrari drive at VIR was in 1964 when his GTO was overpowered by a large contingent of 427 Cobras and finished 4th. For his final two appearances at VIR he switched to a 427 Cobra and tied the A Production lap record in 1967. His successes in the Cobra led to invitations to drive Ford GT 40s in 1966 and 1967 at Le Mans and Sebring. From the early 1950's Grossman was one of the most successful foreign car dealers in the U.S. He retired to enjoy his considerable talent as an artist and to keep up with his friends at vintage races. He died on May 20, 2002.
JOHN GUNN first raced at VIR in April of 1967 in a Lotus 23 when he took top honors in G Sports Racing. A native of nearby Yanceyville, he had grown up with the track and attended the inaugural event in August of 1957 as a spectator. His racing career began while a student at the University of Miami in an Alfa Romeo that carried him to two SCCA divisional championships. He turned pro in 1968 by entering the SCCA Formula A Continental series and became a regular for the entire life of the championship. After his second season he returned to VIR at the conclusion of the 1969 pro races to enter the September SCCA Nationals. With his Lola T-142 he set the final overall lap record for the original course at 2:06.3. He later was a regular entrant in Can Am and IMSA events. More info and photos here.
DAN GURNEY did not race at VIR but the local newspapers in the spring of 1967 carried stories of his arrival in town to test the new Bud Moore Trans Am Cougars. Gurney had 7 Formula 1 wins and 5 NASCAR Riverside 500 wins during his career. He also won 7 Indy car races and the endurance classics at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans.
JANET GUTHRIE raced a D Production Jaguar in the April 1967 Nationals at VIR. She was the first woman to qualify at Indy and in NASCAR. She raced at Indianapolis in 1977, 1978, and 1979. She was a NASA astronaut candidate.
CARL HAAS entered a Porsche in the August 1957 inaugural event. He is not listed as a finisher. As a team owner he has won 12 championships in CART, Can Am, Formula 5000 and Super Vee. He is often described as one of the most powerful men in the history of auto racing.
WALT HANSGEN was unbeatable at VIR from 1957 to 1962 and was a three-time winner of the VIR SCCA President's Cup. Click here for a complete article on Hansgen.
HURLEY HAYWOOD won his first professional race when he and Peter Gregg drove Haywood's Porsche 914-6 to victory in the "Danville 300", the first ever IMSA GT race in April of 1971. He and Gregg repeated in 1972 by winning VIR's "Danville 250" making them the only winners in VIR's two IMSA events. Since VIR Haywood has gone on to win the 24 Hours of Daytona five times and Le Mans three times as well as a pair of Sebring victories. He drove the Brumos Porsche 917 in the Can Am series and has appeared in the Indy 500 and the IROC series. He is a multiple series champion in Trans Am and IMSA.
RAY HEPPENSTALL drove a Jomar in the inaugural August 1957 event at VIR. He returned in April of 1961 at the wheel of a Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth. He is best known for preparing and driving the Howmet Turbine car in 1969.
HARRY HEUER arrived at VIR in April of 1963 with two entries that represented some of the most important innovations in the history of sports car racing. Both were built by the legendary Troutman and Barnes shop in California. Don Devine was scheduled to drive the Scarab built in 1958 for Lance Reventlow while team owner Heuer had purchased the customer version of Jim Hall's Chaparral 1 for himself to drive. The son of the owner of the Peter Hand brewery in Wisconsin, Heuer had convinced his father that a Meister Brauser racing team would sell more of the family's beer. Devine drove the Scarab to victory at VIR but Heuer would campaign the Chaparral to national championships in 1961, 1962 and 1963.
BOB HOLBERT started his long racing career in 1952 in a MG. He switched to Porsche when he purchased a 550 RS in April of 1957. He brought the Porsche to VIR for the August 1957 inaugural race and won both of the races he entered. He was a regular and successful Porsche competitor at VIR through the President's Cup race in 1962 earning wins and points that led him to national championships in 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1962. At the same time the Porsche factory was rewarding him with drives at Sebring and Le Mans. A leader in the movement among SCCA racers demanding professional status, Holbert entered the newly formed U.S. Road Racing Championship (USRRC) in 1963. His Porsche competed for both overall position and in the under two-liter class. Surprising the larger displacement entries, Holbert won the overall championship and became the SCCA 's first professional champion. His efforts led to an invitation from Carroll Shelby to drive his Cobras in international competition. His final appearance at VIR was in April of 1963 at the wheel of a Cobra but a broken fan belt ended his chances on the second lap. In 1964 Shelby tapped him to drive the Cobra Daytona Coupe in international competition and his new rear-engined King Cobra in the USRRC. A crash in the King Cobra at Kent Washington and the demands of his now highly successful automobile businesses in Pennsylvania led to a decision to retire from driving. He died on November 12, 2007 at age 84.
ED HUGUS won the first race held at VIR on Saturday August 2, 1957 in his G Production Alfa Romeo. He repeated that win the next day in the 14 lap finale for the class. During the President's Cup weekend in October of 1957 his Alfa failed him on the second lap. In June of 1958 he began his career as an endurance driver at Le Mans when he and Ed Crawford and Ernie Erickson drove a Ferrari Testa Rossa to a seventh place finish. He finished seventh overall again in 1960 driving a N.A.R.T. 250 GT SWB with Augie Pabst. The crowning touch for his endurance racing career was in 1965 when he and Masten Gregory and Jochin Rindt finished first at Le Mans in a N.A.R.T. 250 LM. Ed Hugus passed away on 6/29/06.
HARRY INGLE attended his first driver's school at VIR in a TR3 in 1966. He prepared a Formula Vee for his first season of National competition and built a record of 12 top three finishes and qualified for the SCCA runoffs at Riverside. He won the Southeast Division Formula Vee championship in 1968 and 1969 and finished second in the World Championship for Formula Vee at Daytona that same year. In 1970 he was Formula Vee National Champion and won the Formula Super Vee title in 1973 as well as the SCCA President's Cup.
JIM JEFFORDS finished second and third in his Corvette in the two 1957 inaugural races at VIR in August. He returned in May of 1959 with his famous 'Purple People Eater'Corvette and the Scarab he had just purchased from Lance Reventlow. The Scarab's oil pump failed in Saturday's practice and he destroyed the engine but the weekend was not a total loss as he ran away with the large bore production race in the Corvette. The Corvette carried him to B Production national championships in both 1958 and 1959.
BRUCE JENNINGS entered the first race at VIR in August of 1957. From then until the original track closed he recorded a total of 18 entries, most in his familiar #77 Porsche. His first win came in May of 1959 when he took first place in the contest for F through I Production and H Modified. His string of top three finishes in his Porsche Carrera earned him the nickname 'King Carrera' and led to SCCA C Production national championships in 1960 and 1964. He was chosen by the Chrysler factory to drive one of the Team Starfish Barracudas in VIR's 1966 Trans Am. In 1967 Jim Hall extended an invitation to Jennings to drive his Chaparral at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. In his final appearance at VIR he drove his 911 to 4th place in the Porsche sweep of the 1972 IMSA race. His 911 is currently owned and driven by the Marshall brothers and based at the G&W Motorsports shop in VIR's Raceplex. His 18 entries make him the all time leader in appearances at VIR.
BOB JOHNSON was well known to VIR fans for outstanding drives in
big-bore production cars. His first entry was in May
of 1960 in a B Production Corvette. He is not listed as a finisher but he
had an outstanding season as he went on to win the SCCA B Production national
title for that year. He returned to VIR in April
of 1961 and drove his BP Corvette to a convincing win. He in fact he was
reported to have gained a half lap lead in the first lap. By April
of 1963 Johnson had moved over to an A Production Cobra that he qualified on
the front row but had to settle for a second in class because of a pit stop to
repair a blown tire. He entered the April 1964
National but is not listed as a finisher. He won the SCCA A Production
national championship in both 1963 and 1964 in a Cobra. The highlight of his VIR
career was his win in the 1966 VIR 400 Trans
Am event with co-driver Tom Yeager. In 1967 Jim Hall chose him to co-drive a
Chaparral with Bruce Jennings at Sebring and Le Mans. His final VIR appearance
was in an A Production Corvette in April of 1968.
PARNELLI JONES did not race at VIR. However, he tested Bud Moore's Trans Am Cougar at VIR in November of 1966 and the Bud Moore Mustang at VIR in 1969 and 1970. He won Indy in 1963 and was on the pole in 1962 and 1963.
HAROLD KECK is first listed as an entrant at VIR in a Lister in the 1962 President's Cup but he is not listed as a finisher. Most of his VIR appearances are in A production Cobras. He was always a contender from 1964 to 1968 but never won at VIR. He had better luck elsewhere, winning the SCCA A Production national championship in 1965 and winning the first race for Carroll Shelby's Cobra Daytona coupe that same year by taking a first in GT class at the 24 Hours of Daytona. He was a regular entrant in the professional USRRC series in 1964. Keck passed away 1/7/07.
CHARLIE KEMP drove Bobby Rinzler's Holiday Inn Corvette with Wilbur Pickett in the 1972 IMSA 'Danville 250'.He later drove several group 7 Can Am cars for Rinzler including a McLaren and a Lola before Rinzler purchased a 917 turbo-Porsche for the 1973 season. In the first race of the 1973 season Kemp joined the small and elite group of Can Am winners by driving to victory in the Mosport round.
MICHAEL KEYSER entered his Toad Hall Porsche in the 1972 VIR IMSA race. He finished second to eventual series champions Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood. He won 3 IMSA races in 1973 and one in 1974. He won the 1976 12 Hours of Sebring.
JIM KIMBERLY entered the inaugural race in August of 1957 in a Maserati. He is not listed as having participated although he owned the Maserati 200S listed in the entry as well as a Maserati 450S. Most of his energies in 1957 were taken by serving as national president of the SCCA. He was a founder of Road America and had won the first street race there in 1950. His racing accomplishments led him to be the subject of the first Sports Illustrated cover in 1954. He was an heir to the Kimberly-Clark paper products fortune.
BILL KIMBERLEY, Jim Kimberly's nephew, drove an AC Bristol in the inaugural VIR races in August of 1957. He returned in May of 1958 in a Triumph TR-3 provided by the Pensacola, Fla Triumph dealer. He also raced a Ferrari Testa Rosa, that led to a drive in a factory Triumph TR-3 at Sebring in 1958 where he caught the eye of Briggs Cunningham. Cunningham invited him to co-drive with him in a Corvette at Le Mans in 1960. He later drove a Maserati Tipo 60 'Baby Birdcage', Tipo 63 and a Tipo 161 for Cunningham. John Wyer hired him as a factory driver for Aston Martin. His European experiences came while he was living in London and working for Kimberly-Clark. His father was chairman of the board and CEO of the company.
DON KNOWLES attended his first SCCA driverís school at VIR in 1972
in an Opel. That same year he set a Showroom Stock class lap record for the
original track. After the closing of VIR
he won SCCA National Championships in Showroom Stock B in 1978 and 1979. In
October of 2006 he added a third Showroom Stock B Championship by winning his
class title at the Runoffs in
HORST KWECH drove an Alfa Romeo GTA with Gaston Andrey to a third overall and first in class at the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am race. The pair went on to win the overall points title for the series for 1966. He also won the SCCA B sedan title in the runoffs at Riverside and was awarded the President's Cup. Kwech was a Trans Am favorite for many years driving for Alfa Romeo and thrilled the crowds in the early 1970's battling the Datsun 510 driven by John Morton. He and Peter Revson both drove Mustangs in the 1969 Trans Am season for Carroll Shelby. He later competed in the SCCA Formula 5000 series for a number of years.
BOB LEITZINGER won the C Production races at VIR in 1967 and 1968 in his Lotus Elan. He had finished second in B Production in 1966 but the SCCA realized their error and reclassified the car so that the Lotus would not have to compete with more powerful Corvettes. He later would become driver and team owner of his factory-sponsored Nissan team and won the 1989 IMSA class title as a driver and the 1993 class title with his son and co-driver Butch behind the wheel.
ED LOWTHER first appeared at VIR in April of 1963 in the Grady Davis Corvette Grand Sport. A wealthy construction executive, he returned in 1964 with his own team and was a runaway winner in the feature race in his Genie Ford. He went on that season to win the SCCA C Modified national championship and was awarded the President's Cup. He returned to VIR in April of 1966 and took his 427 Cobra to an A Production win on his way to another SCCA national championship. His final VIR appearance was in 1967 when he once again was the winner in A Production and set a new course record in his class at 2:14.4. He drove the Howmet Turbine car at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans several times in the mid 1960's.
BRETT LUNGER entered a Formula Vee and an ASR McLaren in the April 1968 VIR Nationals. He is listed as a DNF in the McLaren and is not entered in the results in Formula Vee. After beginning racing in a Corvette, the Dupont heir first raced in the Can Am series in a McLaren M1B in 1967. In 1968 he drove the McLaren, a Lola T160 and a Caldwell in a number of Can Am events. After a stint in the Marines as a Forward Observer in Viet Nam he purchased a Lola T192 F5000 car for the L&M series. He won at Donnybrooke and moved to Europe the following season for F2.He moved into F1 in 1975 as a teammate to James Hunt in a Hesketh He later drove for Team Surtees for a couple of seasons and then formed a private McLaren F1 team for the 1977 and 1978 seasons. In all he competed in 34 Grand Prix races. He straddled Nikki Lauda's burning Ferrari and saved his life by pulling him out of the fire.
ALLEN MARKELSON was an early leader in the first lap of the first race at VIR in August of 1957 but eventually finished third behind winner Ed Hugus and Bob Grossman, all in identical Alfa Romeos. He continued to campaign his Alfa with partial factory support for several seasons until Luigi Chinetti chose him to campaign a Ferrari for the North American Racing Teams entry in the USAC pro road racing series. Dan Gurney won the over two-liter class title for the team and Markelson won the under two-liter crown. He won the 2000 VIR homecoming alumni race in Harvey Siegel's Cobra Daytona Coupe.
GENE MASON drove a Formula B Techno in the September 1969 VIR Nationals. In the same race Skip Barber won the Formula Ford class on his Caldwell D9 and set a VIR class lap record. By 1971 Mason and Barber had teamed up and Mason purchased a March Formula 1 car and the two traveled to Europe and entered several Grand Prix races before returning to the United States to enter the car in the L&M Formula 5000 series.
TEDDY MAYER entered a Cooper Climax for Roger Penske and a Lotus Climax for Peter Revson in the April 1962 VIR Formula Junior contest during his final year of law school at Cornell. His career as an entrant greatly expanded after graduation when he left for Europe where he and Bruce McLaren joined forces to form Team McLaren to manufacture cars for Can Am, Indianapolis and Formula 1.
With Mayer as team manager the team won championships in Can Am, USAC, Formula 1 and the Indy 500. He later left McLaren and came full circle from his VIR days by becoming a vice president of Penske Racing.
DENISE McCLUGGAGE entered a Porsche RS in the May 1958 VIR Nationals. She has had a long career as a journalist and a racer, competing in the Monte Carlo Rally and taking a class win in the 12 Hours of Sebring. A member of the Automotive Hall of Fame, she was an original member of the staff of Competition Press and Autoweek where she currently serves as a senior columnist.
DONNA MAE MIMS was the first female SCCA national champion in 1963 in her pink H Production Sprite that she brought to VIR in April. She failed to finish. She had entered the Sprite in the 1962 race but does not appear in the results. Her record continued in 1964 when she entered her famous "Think Pink" MGB but does not appear in the results. In October of 1964 she returned in the MGB and is listed as DNF in last place in the VIR Divisionals. She entered the MG for the last time in April of 1965 but did not place in the top three finishers. For her final VIR appearance she drove a Yenko Stinger to a seventh place finish.
JOHN MORTON made his first appearance at VIR in April of 1970 driving Pete Brock's BRE Datsun 2000. He was one of the highly rated contenders for VIR's C Production showdown that weekend. Jim Fitzgerald's Datsun was the early leader but he and Morton both slipped off course in their factory Datsun entries and allowed Peter Gregg to lead a Porsche sweep of the race. The rest of Morton's season was more to his liking as he qualified for the end of season championship race in Dallas and took the national title in a new Datsun 240Z. He repeated as C Production champion in 1971 for BRE. After their C Production success Morton and Brock developed a Datsun 510 that dominated the Trans Am under 2.5 liter class for two seasons in a row. Morton would later drive in both the SCCA F5000 and Can Am championships before landing a top drive in the ultra-powerful Nissan turbo GTP car in IMSA. He returned to VIR in October of 2002 as a co-driver in one of The Racer's Group Porsche 911s.
BOB NAGEL enjoyed being known as the fastest man at VIR for several seasons as he brought a variety of Group 7 Can Am cars to the Danville track to break the overall track record and take top honors in A Sports Racing. His VIR career began in 1963 in a Sprite. He moved to pure racing cars in 1966 with an Elva BMW that he drove to a third overall finish behind Dick Thompson's Ford GT 40 and Skip Barber's Brabham. By 1968 he was entering both professional and amateur events as he was a regular entrant in the Can Am series as well as SCCA National races. In April he set a new VIR overall lap record of 2:08.6 in a McKee that he later crashed in a pro race. He returned to VIR in September with a Lola T70 Ford with his sights set on a new lap record but an oil-slick track kept his lap times down when he won the feature race of the weekend. He purchased the Lola T260 that Jackie Stewart had driven in the Can Am series and won the SCCA A Sports Racing title in 1973. Nagel continues to compete in the American Le Mans series, having finished 4th in class in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2002 driving The Racer's Group Porsche.
PAUL O'SHEA entered a factory-backed Mercedes-Benz 300SL in the August 1957 inaugural event. He won the D Modified class in Sunday's feature race and went on to take the SCCA National championship for the season after returning for the President's Cup race in October. He had previously driven the 300SL to SCCA National championships in 1955 and 1956 when it was classified in D Production.
AUGIE PABST drove an AC Bristol in the August 1957 inaugural races at VIR. He finished 4th on Saturday and 3rd on Sunday in a race that featured 11 identical AC Bristols. He went on to a highly successful career that included the 1960 SCCA B Modified National Championship in a Scarab and a 1959 USAC championship. He drove both a Maserati and a Jaguar XKE for Briggs Cunningham. He drove one of the original three factory Corvette Grand Sports at the Nassau Speed Weeks in 1963. In the 1963 USRRC championship he won two races in a row at Castle Rock and at Road America. He was a team driver for Harry Heuer in the Meister Brauser Scarab. He later purchased the Scarab he drove in 1958 and maintains it today for vintage racing. Though not a direct heir to the Pabst brewing fortune, he is a cousin and worked his way into an executive position with the brewery due to his ability, not through an inheritance.
DAVID PEARSON drove a Dodge Dart in the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am race with Car and Driver editor Brock Yates. His race ended in the pre-race warm-up at the infamous NASCAR Bend. He was a three time NASCAR Winston Cup champion and retired with 105 victories.
ROGER PENSKE came to VIR in May of 1959 during his second season of racing in a Porsche RS. He finished 5th overall and second in class. The following year he purchased a Porsche RSK and won the 1960 SCCA F Modified national championship even though he failed to finish in the feature race at VIR due to a $1.25 oil pressure sending plug failure. In H Modified he drove a Team Roosevelt Fiat Abarth to second in class. Penske arrived at VIR in April of 1961 in a new Tipo 61 Birdcage Maserati for the President's Cup. He failed to break Walt Hansgen's streak of President's Cup wins and finished second. Later in the season he switched to a Cooper Maserati and won the SCCA D Modified championship. His final VIR appearance was at the April 1962 President's Cup. This time through a combination of Hansgen's mechanical problems and a driving rainstorm, Penske won the Cup. In the Formula Jr. race he qualified on the pole in Teddy Mayer's Cooper Climax and finished second to Hansgen. During the 1962 season he began to acquire his now famous reputation for innovation in race car design and building. Briggs Cunningham had purchased a new Cooper Formula 1 car for Walt Hansgen to drive at the 1961 United States Grand Prix. Hansgen crashed the car and Penske bought the remains of the chassis and added a larger 2.7 liter Coventry Climax engine. He enclosed the entire package with a body and added a second seat underneath the bodywork to qualify for the SCCA modified class with what was essentially a single seat F1 car. He won the D Modified championship on both 1962 and 1963. The car was later sold to John Mecom and later to Bruce McLaren where it became the foundation for the original McLaren. Along the way Penske was named Sports Illustrated SCCA driver of the year in 1961 and The New York Times driver of the year in 1962. After successful seasons driving a Corvette Grand Sport he retired as a driver in 1965 and began to devote his time and energy to becoming one of the most successful team owners in history. With driver Mark Donohue he won three SCCA Trans Am titles and the USRRC championship. Penske Porsches won the Can Am championship in 1972 and 1973. The team has won a total of 11 Indy car championships and has won the Indy 500 12 times.
RICHARD PETTY drove the Team Starfish Barracuda into the mud at NASCAR Bend in the early laps of the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am. He was a seven time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and retired with 200 career wins.
DR. WILBUR PICKETT brought his Alfa Romeo SZ Zagato to VIR in April of 1967 and was gridded next to the identical SZ driven by Rasey Feezell. Feezell's driveshaft disconnected and dug into the track surface causing him to destroy his Alfa and Pickett's left the course and hit a communications pole and was totaled. In 1968 and 1969 Pickett campaigned a G Production Alfa and won regular invitations to the SCCA runoffs. In 1970 he returned to VIR in an Alfa GTA that he was campaigning in the Trans Am series. He took a class win at VIR in B sedan. His final VIR appearance was in Bobby Rinzler's Holiday Inn Corvette in the 1972 VIR 250 IMSA event. He and co-driver Charlie Kemp failed to finish. A Daytona Beach Neurologist, he served as track physician for Daytona International Speedway. He died in a small plane crash in the mid 70's.
SAM POSEY came to VIR in April of 1966 at the beginning of his second year of racing. A resident of Sharon Conn. just down the road from the Lime Rock track, he had been introduced to racing the year before by family friend John Fitch who allowed his young neighbor to drive his Formcar Formula Vee during the 1965 season. Posey's family wealth allowed him to start his career with ambitious plans. At VIR he had a Porsche 904 for A Production and a Kelly for Formula Vee. The Porsche was a big hit with the photographers as it was unloaded on Saturday but did not start on Sunday. He finished 9th in his Formula Vee. For the remainder of the season he raced the Porsche and a Caldwell-McLaren in Can Am. He continued to race in Can Am through the 1972 season when he competed in several events in Vasek Polak's Porsche 917. He was bumped from the field at the Indy 500 in 1970 but finished 5th in 1972. Posey drove in the SCCA Formula 5000 series from 1971 through 1976, finishing second in the championship in 1971.He had regular drives in IMSA with Porsche and BMW, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1975 in a BMW. He competed in two Formula 1 races in 1971 and 1972. During his driving career he gained a reputation for being gifted with words. From 1989 through 2001 he enjoyed a career as a broadcaster with ABC Sports and later with Speedvision.
MIKE RAND entered the April 1973 VIR Nationals in his Formula B March 732 Formula B. He was SCCA National champion in Formula C in his Brabham BT21for 1970. His most important contribution to VIR was serving as Track Manager during the construction phase of the track's restoration in 1999 and 2000.
LANCE REVENTLOW towed his Scarab from California to VIR for the May 1958 Spring Sprints. Reventlow was the son of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Reventlow and stepson of actor Cary Grant. After a year of racing in Europe he returned home at the age of 21 determined to build a competitive American sports car. He contracted the services of Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes as well as engine builder and driver Chuck Daigh. When the first car was finished Reventlow took it to its first race and jumped into an early lead ahead of John Edgar's VIR winning Maserati 450S driven by Carroll Shelby but had to take to an escape road on the first lap. He finished third. Reventlow's enthusiasm and ambition led him to decide his next step should be to travel to VIR to challenge the Briggs Cunningham team in what was to be only the second race for the Scarab and Reventlow. The Scarab qualified third and as he had in his first race, Reventlow jumped past the front row starters and took an early lead. He held on for two laps until he slipped a couple of wheels off course and both Ed Crawford and Walt Hansgen were able to pass. After a long trip from California, Reventlow had to settle for third place. The team went on to a successful season and Lance set his sights on the European Formula 1 scene but after one race start found the cost to be more than even the son of the world's richest woman wanted to consider. When his 5 year profit/loss limit with the IRS was reached he followed the lead of Briggs Cunningham and allowed the manufacturing company to fold. Unlike Cunningham who continued racing, Reventlow lost interest. He died in a small plane crash in 1972.
PETER REVSON started his racing career in a Morgan Plus 4 while a student at the University of Hawaii. The following year he entered the Morgan in the April 1961 Nationals at VIR. He started the E Production race on the second row behind his future Indy and Formula 1 competitor Mark Donohue in an Elva. Donohue took the first place trophy while Revson failed to finish. In 1962 Revson formed a team with his Cornell classmate Timmy Mayer to race in SCCA Formula Junior. Other team principals included future Team McLaren team manager Teddy Mayer and McLaren Engineer Tyler Alexander. They entered the 1962 VIR Nationals with Revson and Roger Penske as drivers. Penske won the pole but Walt Hansgen took the race win from his last place grid position while both of the Revson-Mayer entries met with engine failure. The group then moved to Europe where Revson had a less than spectacular introduction to Formula 1 in a private Lotus BRM. After a return to the United States and a return to racing for Teddy Mayer who was now manager for Team McLaren,Revson won the 1971 Can Am championship and took the coveted Indy 500 pole the same year. He finished second at the 500 in 1972. In 1973 he moved to Formula 1 with McLaren and won the British and the Canadian Grand Prix. For the 1974 season he switched to the Shadow team and died after a suspension failure in practice for the South African Grand Prix.
BOBBY RINZLER raced a variety of well-prepared B Sports Racing entries throughout the Southeast in the early 1970's, entering a Chevron in the 1970 April VIR Nationals. For the 1971 season he campaigned a Lola 212 and earned an invitation to the SCCA runoffs. In 1972 he secured sponsorship from Holiday Inn and entered the IMSA GT series with drivers Charlie Kemp and Wilbur Pickett. At VIR they failed to finish. At the same time Rinzler's ambitious plans for the team also included a Lola T222 for Kemp in the Can Am series. A consistent top ten finisher, Kemp placed 10th in the overall standings. Rinzler and Kemp watched Roger Penske's turbo-charged Porsche 917-10 dominate the championship and make traditional normally-aspirated racers like the Lola obsolete. At the end of the season Rinzler bought the 917-10 from Penske and Kemp won the opening round of the 1973 season at Mosport. Kemp finished 4th in the 1974 Championship.
BILL SCOTT first raced in a formula car at VIR when he won the April 1966 Formula Vee National. He finished a close second in 1967 but won in 1968 and 1969. In 1968 he was SCCA Formula Vee national champion. He topped that with a Formula Vee World Championship title in 1970. When the SCCA began the professional Formula Super Vee championship he and crew chief Tom Milner became a major factor in the series with a three car team. He later formed one of the first and most successful racing schools at Summit Point Raceway and now owns and operates the track.
WENDELL SCOTT made his VIR debut in the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am as a co-driver with VIR regular Dr. Dick Thompson. His race ended as did most of his fellow NASCAR stars in the infamous "NASCAR bend". Scott was well-known to Danville area racing fans for many years having started his racing career on the dirt at the old Danville fairgrounds track. The Danville native was a pioneer in that he defied all odds in becoming the first and only black NASCAR regular winning the respect of fans and fellow drivers alike.
DON SESSLAR finished second in class to Bob Holbert in F modified in the August 1957 VIR inaugural. He took F Modified class wins at VIR in both the May and October races in 1958 In May of 1959 his Porsche RSK seriously challenged Walt Hansgen's Lister Jaguar for the overall win in the feature. Sesslar finished second and first in F Modified. He won the National championship in his class that year and was awarded the President's Cup. With the introduction of the Sunbeam Alpine, Sesslar moved from the modified classes to production car racing. He won VIR's F Production class in April of 1962 and an SCCA National championship in 1964.
BOB SHARP started a driving career that led to six SCCA National championships in a Lotus 7 that he drove to a 2nd place finish in F Production at VIR in 1963. In 1964 he and teammate Alan Wylie came to VIR with Sharp's Lotus in F Production and a G Production Datsun driven by Wylie. Sharp took second place in F Production in the Lotus and Wylie finished 4th in G Production in the Datsun They returned for the October 1964 VIR Divisionals with a pair of G Production Datsuns Sharp was the overall class winner and Wylie finished 10th. In 1965 he convinced Datsun to make him the East coast factory racing team while Pete Brock represented the factory on the West coast. For the 1966 VIR Nationals he placed second in both G and F Production. After a DNF at VIR in April of 1967, he went on to become SCCA F Production National champion for the season. Sharp entered four races at VIR in 1968, finishing third in C Production and first in F Production in the spring. On his return in September he repeated each of the class positions In 1969 he was a double winner in F and D Production while North Carolina teammate Jim Fitzgerald finished second in D Production. From that race on, Fitzgerald would become the official Bob Sharp Racing entry at VIR with highly successful results. After VIR Sharp would go on to win SCCA C Production championships in 1972, 1973 and 1975 and B Sedan championships in 1971 and 1972. As a team owner Sharp has led his team to many SCCA and IMSA championships with his son Scott, Jim Fitzgerald, actor Paul Newman and others sharing the driving honors.
GRAHAM SHAW drove his orange 427 A Production Cobra in the VIR nationals in 1964 and 1965. In 1964 he finished second behind Mark Donohue and in 1965 he won the big-bore production contest. In 1964 he had entered the 24 Hours of Daytona with Charlie Hayes as co-driver and in 1965 he arrived at VIR fresh from a fourth in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring with co-driver Dr. Dick Thompson.
CARROLL SHELBY won the inaugural race at VIR on the weekend of August 3-4 1957. Driving John Edgar's 450S Maserati he overpowered the smaller engined D-Jaguars owned by Briggs Cunningham. He had started his racing career in drag racing but soon moved to road racing in a MG TC. He and Phil Hill had finished second at Sebring in 1955. He was Sports Illustrated driver of the year in 1956 and 1957. He went to Europe and drove for Maserati in Formula 1 in 1958 and 1959. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 in John Wyer's Aston Martin, co-driving with Roy Salvadori. The following year he returned to the United States and won the USAC road racing championship. A heart condition led him to give up his driving career and become a car builder and team manager. He designed and built his legendary Cobra and the Ford Mustang GT 350. As team owner and manager he won the 1965 World Grand Touring Championship with his Cobra Daytona Coupe and led Ford to victories at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. He continues to be very much involved with his Cobra design. He returned to VIR as Grand Marshall for the June of 2001 Gold Cup races.
JAY SIGNORE was a regular entrant at VIR in the early 1960's. His E Production Elva finished well back of the leaders in April of 1961 but he finished fourth in class in April of 1962. An employee of Penske Racing, he is best known for creating and being the chief administrator for the IROC series.
PAUL SPRUELL entered his Alfa Romeo Duetto in VIR's regionals in 1966 and again in 1967.He is listed as an entry in the VIR Nationals in September of 1968 and again in April of 1969 but is not listed among the top three finishers. 1969 was his best year in National competition. He won the SCCA G Production National championship and was awarded the President's Cup. He also won E Production National titles for Alfa in 1985 and 1986.
HARVEY TEMPLETON was SCCA Rookie of the Year in 1966. According to popular legend he celebrated his 62nd birthday that year also. In April of 1967 he made his first VIR appearance in a Bobsy Formula Vee. In April and September of 1969 he entered a Zink and listed his age as "59". His entry stated that he had qualified for the SCCA runoffs in 1966, 1967 and 1968. He finished 12th. By the time he entered the April Nationals in 1970 he had designed and built a revolutionary new low profile Formula Vee chassis that he named the Shadowfax. He also entered the Shadowfax in the last two Nationals at VIR before the track closed, finishing ninth in April of 1973 and taking his first VIR win at the last National in 1974. If calculations are correct, he should have been 70 years old.
HARRY THEODORACOPULOS or "Harry T" began his VIR career in April of 1965 in an F Production Alfa Romeo. He co-drove with Sam Posey in the 1966 Trans Am in an Alfa GTA. He won the 1969 SCCA C Sedan championship in an Alfa. His next VIR entry was in the 1972 IMSA Danville 250 co-driving with Andrew Carduner in a Porsche 911. He was rumored to have been the financial savior who saved Lime Rock Park from its money problems in the early 1970's.
DR. DICK THOMPSON - Frequent VIR racer, popular Corvette driver, and 8 times National Champion - Click here for complete article
JERRY TRUITT was SCCA G Production National champion in 1967. In 1968 he entered MG Midgets in both G Production and F Production classes. In April he won the G Production class and placed second in F Production. Returning in September he took first place in F Production. When he arrived in September of 1968 he held VIR lap records in both F and G production.
BOB TULLIUS won his first four races at VIR. In April of 1962 he took top honors in E Production in a Triumph TR-3 on his way to a National championship for the season. In 1963 he moved to D Production with a Triumph TR-4 and once again took both VIR and National championship titles. Beginning in 1964 he formed his legendary Group 44 team and began to assemble sponsors such as British Leyland and Quaker State. He arrived at VIR with his TR-4 and topped the D Production class again and repeated in 1965.He was once again National champion in 1964. He switched to an updated TR-4A for 1966 and registered his first DNF. Meanwhile, earlier in the year Tullius had entered the SCCA professional sedan series the Trans Am in a Dodge Dart. He finished second to future World Champion Jochen Rindt in the four-hour season opener at Sebring and arrived at the VIR round in July with co-driver Tony Adamowicz. They only completed 14 laps. For 1967 Tullius was back with his more familiar Triumph mount. This time he had the bugs worked out of the TR4A and was able to set a new D Production record even though a first lap spin prevented him from winning the race. He returned to his winning ways in his final VIR appearance in April of 1968 by taking the win in C Production in a TR-250. Group 44 made its final appearance at the April 1970 Nationals with Brian Fuerstenau winning E Production in his MGB and John Kelly failing to finish in his Triumph Spitfire. After capping off his SCCA career with a B Production championship in a V12 Jaguar in 1975, Tullius went on to a career fielding teams for Jaguar in IMSA and endurance racing. He currently operates out of a facility at the Sebring airport that houses the Group 44 museum for racing cars and WW11 vintage fighter aircraft.
CURTIS TURNER made his first VIR appearance as a driver and promoter in April of 1962 when he brought the Midwest association for Race Cars (MARC) to Danville for what he billed as an alternative to NASCAR that would rival Bill France's organization. A stock car legend since 1949, he had been banned from NASCAR for attempting to unionize the drivers. He arranged the VIR race with the Midwest stock car group to compete with NASCAR .He won the race (battle) but lost the war. NASCAR was never seriously threatened. See related story for details. Turner did return to VIR with his NASCAR comrades as a part of the attempt by the promoters to generate interest in the VIR 400 Trans Am event in July of 1966. Teamed with veteran road racer Peter Lake in a Mustang, Turner was the only stock car driver to finish but in last place after the famed Woods Brothers pit crew repaired a hole in his engine block with duct tape.
PETER VAN DER VATE dominated the G Production class at VIR from 1962 through 1964, finishing second in his Sprite in 1962 and winning in 1963 and 1964. He also was SCCA National champion in the class in 1963 in his Sprite and 1964 in a Morgan. He and Monty Winkler entered an Alfa GTA in the 1966 VIR Trans Am and failed to finish. He entered an Alfa Romeo in E Production at the September 1968 Nationals and placed first in class. In the last National held before the track closed in 1974 he took an F Production win and set a lap record of 2:21.3. He is a regular guest and participant in the June alumni and Gold Cup events. In a recent interview he pointed out the advantage he gained from his long history at VIR. "I learned something new every time I drove here."
CHARLIE WALLACE had a dual role in VIR's 1957 races. In the August inaugural races, He drove his F Sports Porsche RS to a second place finish behind Bob Holbert. For the weekend's feature race on Sunday he drove a Briggs Cunningham D Jaguar to third place behind Carroll Shelby and Walt Hansgen. Returning for the October President's Cup event, he was the runaway winner in the third race in his F Sports Porsche. Once again he was recruited to drive a D Jaguar for Briggs Cunningham and this time he was on the pole ahead of both Walt Hansgen and Ed Crawford. Hansgen was the team's lead driver and contender for the National championship so when he bent a flywheel in an off-course excursion, team manager Alfred Momo called race leader Wallace into the pits and he turned his Jaguar over to Hansgen. Wallace and Hansgen shared the President's Cup. He entered a modified version of the Porsche in the October 1958 E Modified race and recorded a DNF. He was SCCA C Production champion in both 1954 and 1955 in a Jaguar XK120M and F Modified champion in 1957.
ED WELCH served as President of Sports Car Enterprises Incorporated and was one of the original builders of VIR. He also was considered by local racing fans to be the best road-racing driver in North Carolina in the 1950's. For the inaugural race weekend in August of 1957 he entered his AC Bristol in VIR's E production class along with a competitive entry of eleven identical racers. In the third race of the weekend he took the first place trophy .He finished second on Sunday in the same class. He returned in October of 1957 and qualified in the top ten. He followed with a second in class in May of 1958 and a third in October. He celebrated a win in May of 1959. Before they built VIR, Welch and Dr. Hooper Johnson campaigned a 750 cc "Palm Beach"Crosley. The car destroyed its engine at Cumberland in 1955 but was rebuilt and appeared at VIR in October of 1958 and again in 1959 driven by S.E. Clark.
DR. M. J. R. "Doc" WYLLIE started racing in his hometown of Capetown, South Africa in 1938 or 1939 with a front-wheeled drive BSA Scout. He recalls he was either 17 or 18 at the time and took advantage of the fact that South Africa had no age restrictions for young drivers. After WW 11 he moved to the Pittsburgh area to pursue a career as a research scientist that eventually led him to become President of Gulf Research and Development. In Pennsylvania he helped found the Steel Cities Region of the SCCA in 1950 and began a serious racing career starting with a MG-TC in 1949 and a Jaguar in 1951.He entered the inaugural event at VIR in his Lotus X in August of 1957. He won the first race for G Sports on Saturday and finished second in class on Sunday. He returned in October with the Lotus and started alongside National champion Frank Baptista on the front row. In May of 1958 he recorded a second place finish. His next record appearance at VIR was in May of 1960 in a G Modified Lola that he entered in several events through the mid 1960's. In the 1961 President's Cup he drove the Lola to a sixth place overall and first in G Modified. For the 1962 President's Cup event he and his Lola finished 15th while his wife Peg finished 12th in her F Modified Lola. His record for the entire 1962 season was much better because he won the SCCA G Modified championship that year. Through the late 1960's he entered a number of events with a Bobsy that was listed as having a Climax engine and later a BRM V8. The final entry is for April of 1969 but as in several of his late 1960's entries, he is not listed in the results. The VIR archives indicate Wylie as being tied with Randy Canfield for the second most entries at twelve but his total numbers remain questionable due to three entries being recorded without a corresponding record in the official results. He drove in the VIR Alumni race during the 2000 Homecoming weekend.
BROCK YATES recruited NASCAR point leader David Pearson to co-drive his Dodge Dart in the July 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am. Pearson raced in the NASCAR event Saturday night in Nashville Tennessee and arrived Sunday morning to join his teammate and Car and Driver editor Yates. Yates yielded the driver's seat to Pearson so that he could learn the VIR course in Sunday morning practice. On the third turn of the third lap Pearson blew the Dart's engine and ended Yates' VIR career. A professional journalist who enjoys occasional samples of the racing driver's life, Yates remains a fan of VIR's historic course, frequently mentioning the track in his regular column on the Speed channel web site.
TOM YEAGER teamed with VIR veteran Bob Johnson to win the 1966 VIR 400 Trans Am race. The pair had won the previous race in the series at Mid America in June. The victory at VIR by Yeager and Johnson enabled Ford to win the 1966 Over Two Liter Manufacturer's point title for Ford. Yeager has made several appearances at VIR since the reopening including serving as Grand Marshal for the 2002 VIR Speedfest Trans Am.
DON YENKO was a legend to Corvette fans as a racer and as a high performance car dealer. The son of Chevrolet dealer Frank Yenko, Don turned the family's Canonsburg, Pennsylvania dealership into one of the most famous high performance shops in America. He entered the August 1957 inaugural race in a new B Production Corvette but did not finish. In April of 1961 he drove the same car to a third place finish. He was the winner in B Production on 1962, 1963 and 1964. He was SCCA class champion in 1962 and 1963. Favored to win again in 1965, he was leading when he had to pit with an overheating engine. In a departure from B Production, he won a thrilling small sedan race in 1965 in a Mini Cooper. As a natural evolution of his performance dealership he developed his own version of Chevrolet's Corvair known as the Yenko Stinger that he brought to VIR in 1966 and entered in D Production with his friend Dr. Dick Thompson driving and taking the class trophy. Yenko drove a B Production Corvette Stingray to a class win. He died in a small plane crash in May of 1987.
The above list was prepared from the best available sources using the VIR archives collected and preserved by Nick England on his web site virhistory.com as the primary resource backed up by an internet search of each driver. All suggestions for additions and corrections are welcome.
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