VIR - August 1957 Saturday Qualifying Race Report

Virginia International Raceway - August 3-4, 1957

The Danville Register - Sunday, August 4, 1957

Inauguration Day at VIR Roaring Success; Big Races Today
Over 5,000 Spectators see 14 laps of Sports Car Racing
Bob Holbert, Ed Hugus Win Opening Races;
83 laps crammed into 7-event card today

click on photo for a larger version

Start of Race #1


Ed Hugus - winner of Race #1

Holbert takes checker

Inauguration Day at the Virginia International Raceway east of Danville was pronounced a roaring success. More than 5,000 spectators thrilled at the sampling of things to come. The dose will be offered today.

As against Saturday's 14 laps of Sports Car racing, there will be 83 laps crammed into seven events starting at 10 a.m. today. Time trials indicated that yesterday's top average speed of 73 miles per hour will be eclipsed by something like 85 mph when 'the "big ones" hit the trail this afternoon.

Bob Holbert of Warrington, Pa.,turned in the 73 mph average in the seven-lap afternoon finale, shoving a Porsche 500 around the 22.4 miles in 18 minutes, 23 and two-tenths seconds. Thus he captured the Class F Modified event.

Ed Hugus of Pittsburgh, Pa., maneuvered an Alfa Romeo to victory in the opening event, averaging 67.05 mph, in the G Production classification.

Other winners in the various categories were: Harry Beck in Class F, George Tipsword in Class H Modified, John Middleton in Class E Modified, and M.R.J. Wylie in Class G Modified.

Against the times set by these smaller cars yesterday afternoon, the time trials for the larger models turned up real speed. Both Charles Wallace of Washington and Walter Hansgen of Chicago drove D-Jaguars around the "dangerous dozen" at an average of to 88.6 miles. Their time for the 3.2 miles was 2:27.8.

Later, Carroll Shelby of Dallas spun the newly-imported Maserati around the course in an unofficial 2:25.6 minutes. But his qualifying time was recorded in the official books of the Sports Car Club of America as 2:28.1.

Thus a Wallace-Hansgen-Shelby battle shaped up for the third race to be run today and for the finale.

Wallace ran into trouble in the second race yesterday when his Porsche RS Spyder spun off the track and was damaged slightly. There were two other miscues in the same race but no one suffered as much as a scratch. Frank Baptista's Lotus went off the track on the back side and Ray Heppenstall's Jomar broke down and went into a spectacular skid at the head of the home stretch

Except for the fact the spills ruined the driver's chances, the in-cidents did little more than prove a bit of excitement.

VIR President Ed Kemm said he was well pleased with the results of opening day. While some minor faults were found, cor-rections were rapidly being made for today's anticipated throng.

Attendance was just about what had been expected yesterday. More than 3,000 tickets were sold at the gate, plus the advance tickets plus the many pass-carriers.

State Police of Virginia and North Carolina, and traffic officers at the parking sites, kept traffic moving smoothly along. There were no long waits, no jams and relatively little dust.

As a result of this and the super program offered today, the largest crowd ever to view a sports event in this area is expected at the Milton track, located 11 miles East of Danville.

The more than 5,000 persons in attendance yesterday were "swallowed up" In the spacious 200-acre infield of the track. There was more than enough room for all to find good locations to watch the spectacle.

It was one of the hottest days of the year and the 10 concession stands were kept busy. Those who attended were telling their friends who will join them today to dress for the heat, bring along a camp stool or pillow and an umbrella will be handy.

Today's program will have to move rapidly because of the 265.6 miles of racing offered. That there will be few delays was promised by Chief Steward George Zuver-who, incidentally, was not happy when the first race was five minutes late starting.

Just prior to the initial race, Congressman William M. Tuck cut the ribbon opening the track. He was introduced by Delegate C. Stuart Wheatley and complimented the founders of the track. He declared the drivers are setting an example for America's youth in confining racing to the track. Mayor Curtis Bishop gave the invocation. Grand Prix racing came to the South with the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner and Dixie.

Highlights And Sidelights Of Day At VIR

The race results:

FIRST RACE (7 Laps, 25 Miles) (Class G Production, Class F MGs and H sports).

Overall and Class G Prod.

  1. Ed Hughes, Pittsburgh, Pa., Alfa Romeo.
  2. Bob Grossman. West Nyack, N.Y., Alfa Romeo.
  3. Alan Markelson, New York, N.Y., Alfa Romeo.

Class F-MGs

  1. Harry Beck, Newcastle, Del.. MG-A.
  2. David Muir, Norfolk, Va., MG-A.
  3. John Ryan, Cutler Ridge. Fla., MG-A.

Class H Sports

  1. George Tipsword, Lawrenceville, M., Bandini.
  2. Howard Hanna, Broomall. Pa.. DB Panhard.
  3. Walter Martin, Roaring Springs, Pa., Crosley.

Winning Time: 20:03.6 minutes, average 67.05 m.p.h.

SECOND RACE (7 Laps, 25 Miles) Class E, F and G Sports)


  1. Bob Holbert, Warrington, Pa., Porsche 550.
  2. Don Sesslar, Lancaster, Ohio, Porsche 550.
  3. John Middleton, Barrington. Ill., Ferrari.

Class E Sports

  1. John Middleton, Barrington. Ill., Ferrari.
  2. Gaston Andrey, Newton, Mass., Ferrari
  3. Charles Kolb, W. Hyattsville, Md., Triumph Special.

Class F Sports

  1. Bob Holbert Warrington, Pa., Porsche 550
  2. Don Sesslar, Lancaster, Ohio, Porsche 550,
  3. Dick Thompson. Washington D.C., Porsche GT.

Class G Sports

  1. M.R.J. Wyllie, Allison Park, Pa., Lotus
  2. Bob Weller, Toledo, Oh., Lotus
  3. Roy Shecter, Miami, Fla., Lotus

Winning time: 18:23.2 minutes, average 73.0 m.p.h.

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