VIR - 1957 August - Race Report - Newspaper

Virginia International Raceway - August 3-4, 1957

THE WASHINGTON POST and TIMES HERALD, Tuesday, August 6, 1957

Sports Car Drivers Hail Danville Layout

By DICK SLAY, Star Staff Correspondent

DANVILLE, Va., Aug. 5 - The new Virginia International Raceway, a, twisting, 3.2-mile course on the banks of the Dan River, went on trial before the racing world over the weekend and came out with a unanimous verdict in its favor.

The Nation's top sports car drivers, who make up the membership of the Sports Car Club of America, are a critical, particular breed. And those who showed up for the track's inaugural National sports car races Saturday and yesterday came away praising the layout.

Carroll Shelby, the loose-jointed ace from Dallas and No. 1 winner here, put the track on a par with the one at Elkhart Lake, Wis., considered the ultimate in sports car layouts. Dick Thompson, the Washington dentist who proved his versatility with expert driving of cars of several classes, was even stronger.

More Like Road - "I like it better than any course I've ever driven." Thompson said, "and Elkhart Lake, I guess, would be next . It is more like a natural road than Elkhart and this is how a road course should be. It's fast, but interesting."

There were only 120 entries, but the comparatively small field was blamed by most on the time of the year. As one driver put it, "If you have a cabin on the lake, why go to Danville in August?"

The crowd, estimated at 10,000, was treated to a number of top performances, particularly by Shelby in his 4.5-liter Maserati. He came down the straightaways at 140 to 160 miles an hour, winning his seven-lap sprint by six seconds and the 20-lap main event by about 20. Walt Hansgen and Charley Wallace trailed in that order both times in Briggs Cuniningham's two D-Jaguars.

Thompson Wins Two - Thompson led from the start in two races in Dick Doane's Corvette, winning his 14-lap feature by a full half minute over Jim Jeffords from Milwaukee. He drove two other cars for Manhattan Auto.

In the feature 14-lapper for the small modified cars, Thompson took a new Porsche Carrera to third place behind the powerful Porsche Carrera new model RS's driven by Bob Holbert and Wallace, and even beat another RS.

In the finale, Thompson drove the daylights out of the Jaguar XKSS and came home fourth in back of Shelby, Hansgen, and Wallace. In the latter, his victims included Paul O'Shea in the Mercedes-Benz 300XLS, Jim Lyeth in a 4.5-liter Ferrari, and Dale Duncan in a Maserati 300S.

The races, two Saturday and eight more yesterday, were staged by the Washington Region of the SCCA and Thompson was not the only member of the host region to win silverware. Thompson gave Washington its only two overall victories, but he and his fellow townsmen accounted for two over-all second places, four over-all thirds. six firsts in class, seven seconds in class and seven more thirds in class.

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