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October in the Dan River Valley is usually filled with crisp air, maybe still a touch of Indian Summer, and with a Joseph's coat of bright leaves on the many trees that beautify VIR. But for the 1957 President's Cup races, well, there was unusual weather to say the least.
Some of the earlier classes almost froze out, following an all-night rain and actually a flake or two of snow in the early morning at Danville. It turned mud anywhere the driver looked. Tony Briggs caught it down the hill toward the home stretch, leading at the time. Frank Baptista spun into the goo, also in the lead, the brakes locked
But for the white Jaguars of Briggs Cunningham there were no elements to confound them. The D-Jags had controlled the time trials the previous day, amid the sunshine, and they were destined to keep the Alfred Momo honors on top for the President's Cup. Charlie Wallace was on the pole, Ed Crawford two, Walt Hansgen three. By the second lap Hansgen had the lead and was off running.
At 140 m.p.h. the Jags sped by the pagoda and the timers, Hansgen ahead, Wallace nudging him from time to time. Momo called in his cars for tire checks, and they merely swapped around the top three places. With 40 minutes to go Hansgen developed trouble, getting a bent flywheel when he had to swerve off the pavement to avoid a slower car. He limped in, chin low. But Momo flagged in Wallace's car, then leading, and he put Hansgen in the seat ... for a team victory. Hansgen went on to win the national championship and acclaim as "sports car driver of the year" by Sports Illustrated.
On the President's Cup for the first time went a team name: Charlie Wallace and Walt Hansgen, but they both spelled Jaguar because this was the day the Jags took charge.
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