Virginia International Raceway April 15-16, 1972
Danville Bee Friday April 14, 1972
The Holiday Inn Corvette, to be driven by Charlie Kemp and Dr. Wilbur Pickett, arrived in Danville today prepared to present a serious challenge to the Corvette of Dave Heinz for first place honors in Sunday's VIR 250. Fresh from an impressive victory in the IMSA, 'Starlight 3 Hour' race held April 1st at Daytona, the team appears to have broken a string of bad luck that plagued them at the Daytona 6 Hours in February and at Sebring in March. The car was crashed at both of the earlier Florida events, but a hasty rebuild by the Rinzler Motoracing crew enabled the Atlanta based team to stage a dramatic comeback at the Daytona IMSA event held only week after Sebring.
Car registration and technical inspection for VIR participants will be held tonight at Tamson Chevrolet. The, inspection is open to the public from 5 to 9 p.m.
Kemp was optimistic after the second Daytona race., "It will be a lot easier to get ready for VIR and I know we'll be ready to go." With seven successful years behind him, including a season of Can-Am com-petition in 1971, the Jackson, Miss. is stockbroker has had enough road-racing experience to know when he is ready. Team manager Bobby Rinzler de-scribes Kemp as "'one of the fastest and most dependable drivers in the country ."
Dr. Wilbur Pickett of Daytona Beach, who will be assisting Kemp with the driving chores for the VIR 250, brings to the team his valuable experience in a wide variety o. cars. His many recent VIR appearances have, enabled the Florida-based veteran to master the peculiar challenges presented by the twisting 3.2 miles of asphalt that make up the Danville track.
In order to prove that they have a winning combination, the team will have to beat one of the best fields of GT cars ever assembled. Dave Heinz, the 1971 IMSA, Over 2.5. liter GT champion and last year's VIR class winner, kicked off, his 1972 campaign with a fourth place overall and class win in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Denny Long, another member of the large Corvette contingent will be a definite threat in his John Greenwood prepared entry.
Because VIR's long straights are connected by twelve tight turns, the larger GT cars will also have to contend with the smaller, better handling Under 2.5 Liter GT machines led by the Porsche of Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood, the winners of last year's race. Gregg and Haywood finished fifth overall and first in class at Sebring, just behind heinz in his Corvette.
More than a dozen Porsches are expected to enter the April 16 contest, setting the stage for a "David and Goliath" show-down match between American horsepower and European handling on a- course that has proven itself to be one of the country's best equalizers.
The Camel Trophy Series moves to VIR Sunday and it shapes up as a battle between the sprinters and the endurance racers.
Bruce Jennings, perennial Porsche champion, views the IMSA sanctioned race as an endurance test while Mike Keyser, currently tied for fifth in the IMSA Point standings for the Camel Trophy, disagrees. "We have a choice of speed, using the new 2.5-liter Porsche engine or reliability using our proven 2.0-liter engine," says Jennings. "Peter Gregg and Keyser, among others, will be faster than me, but I plan on being around at the finish. Endurance racing is a matter of setting a pace, then maintaining it," he added.
"We'll sprint all the way," says Keyser. "The new 2.5-liter engine gives us more torque than last year out of the turns so we won't have to give up much to the Corvettes. Power comes on at 2500-3000 rpm with the 2.5. Jennings doesn't get anything until 5000 or so."
Russ Norburn of Durham, N.C., a local challenger for the VIR win, and Bob Hennig of Atlanta, driving a 390 cu. in. Javelin prepared by Miller-Norburn Racing of Durham, will make its initial outing of the season at VIR and should challenge for the win. Hennig won the IMSA Touring Over 2.5-liter Championship last year in the same car but with a 305 engine.
This year the IMSA Camel Trophy point leader, Danny Moore of Dallas, Texas, driving a Mustang built by Bud Moore Engineering, is making a strong early run at Hennig's championship. when he picked up 12 points for third overall finishes at both Texas World Speedway and Daytona.
Action for the rolling, twisting, 3.2-mile road course gets underway tomorrow with practice slated for 9:30 a.m. followed at 3 p.m. by the "Baby Grand" race. for sub-compacts including the Vega, Pinto and BMW. I-100 formula cars start at 1:15 p.m.. The feature event, the VIR 250, is scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. start.
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