VIR - October 1958 SCCA Nationals Race Report - from SCCA Sports Car Magazine

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Story by the DAVISONS 

Tex Hopkins leaps high to send Race # 1 on its way. 
Photo by Taz Rufty

        RAIN AND MUD, mud and more rain! The Danville Region really sweated for three weeks prior to its first National race weekend, which dawned in a grey mist but cleared to reveal two beautiful days of sunshine and perfect racing weather. Ed Kemm's witch doctor certainly must have worked overtime!
        Besides some highly interesting practice sessions, Saturday provided the first Novice race ever held at VIR. A highly varied field of about 20 cars left the grid with Henry Grime's XK 140 MC in the lead, closely followed by the TR 3 of Harold Whims. In the set of curves prior to the bridge Whims assumed command but immediately made very expensive noises and retired, letting the Jaguar back into the lead.
        Somewhere back in the pack, running with a shattered 2nd gear, David Williams was working his way up slowly but surely in an ancient pre-streamlining Morgan. Passing a Porsche coupe and Rex Beamer's Healey, he moved into the third slot, slipstreaming John Colgate's Healey 100-6; Colgate's ring-around-the-rosie at the hairpin soon put the old Moggie into second place. Dave kept moving on and, when Grime's Jaguar spun in the last lap, made a superb effort to take the lead, but fell about 4 seconds short at the checkered flag.
        Sunday's first race saw the Class H modifieds pitted against 3 Alfa Veloces, 3 Porsches, 3 MG A's and 4 Berkeleys. 'Twas rather interesting! Class H was diversely represented by the Italian marques of OSCA, Bandini and Stanguellini, while American engineering gave the Special builders much to ruminate over in the Saab-engined Martin Tanner Special and the well-remembered PBC of Tom Clark. The "Palm Beach Crosley," long campaigned by Dr. Hooper Johnson and Ed Welch, brought about the interest in 750cc racing in this area several years ago. It disappeared into mechanical limbo after disintegrating its Moretti engine at Cumberland three years ago-it certainly resurrected well! Tom and Sandy McArthur in his Stanguellini circulated as if tied together for the entire 20 laps, the PBC nosing out the Italian car at the finish by less than a second.

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Martin Tanner almost loses his Special (#100) as he goes wide to pass Murray Clark in the MGA (#123). Photo by Taz Rufty
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Dick Thompson (#11) momentarily leads Frank Dominianni (#69), but Frank went on to take first overall. Photo by the Davisons
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After a six lap battle, Windridge's Lister-Corvette (#36) fell by the wayside to leave Walt Hansgen (#60) all alone in first place. Photo by Taz Rufty
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Photo by Taz Rufty - Bob Stewart's Alfa leans into the corner on the way to the uphill chicane.

        Bob Grossman managed to overcome young Bob Stewart for Class G honors, but in turn was led to the finish line by the waspish 750cc OSCA of Ed Ginther. For the first time that I can remember, MG's dominated Class F in a National race, with Murray Clark's rapid A-type leading home the Porsche of Warren Brow and with third place being taken by W. M. Verbeck in an equally fast MG A! This race saw the advent of the 500cc Berkeleys in this neighborhood. With his beetle making a great racket, William Harding led the rest of the animated chain saws home to a win in this new class.
        The second race consisted of production cars from 2-liters on up, and was easily the best of the day. Frank Dominianni's fuel injection Corvette jumped into an immediate lead, closely followed by the AC Bristols of Arch Means, Ross Wees and Ed Welch; these were in turn shadowed by Dick Thompson's Healey and a red XK 150S navigated by Bob Grossman. By dint of some very hard driving Grossman passed Thompson and Welch, and hurtled the red bomb into 4th place. Means in his AC Bristol tried desperately to take the lead, and Wees tried just as hard to take him, but both attempts were to no avail-a spin in the closing minutes of the race removed any hope of the 4th place Jaguar improving its position, and that was the way they ended on the final lap.
        The last race of the day, for all cars over Class H modified, showed great promise, with a Lister-Jaguar, a Lister-Corvette, a 4.5 Maserati, the HiTork Special, a Lotus-Corvette, a Testa Rossa Ferrari and 2 Porsche Spyders contending the overall win. Two Elvas, a Lotus, and Porsche and VW Specials had at it in the small bore classes.
        Unfortunately, after a real rip snorter of a race for about 6 laps, Windridge's Lister-Corvette spun out of the lead in the Big Bend, breaking something or other and retiring on the spot. Don Sesslar's magnificent Porsche RS fell back, the Maserati failed to come by and very shortly thereafter the race degenerated into a somewhat disappointing parade following the incredibly fast Lister-Jaguar of Walt Hansgen. Rich Lyeth in the Hi-Tork Special could more than match the Listers in acceleration, but the elderly 4.5 Ferrari chassis seemed incapable of the delicate handling necessary for a tight course such as VIR.

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Photo by Taz Rufty - Sandy McArthur's Stanguellini (#89) dices with S. E. Clark's PBC, despite signs of combat.
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Photo by Taz Rutty - Bob Grossman (#90) leads Bruce Jennings (#71) in their battle for second overall.
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Photo by the Davisons Ray Stoutenburg (#171) and Rex Beamer (#16) head for the bridge.

        The Lotus of Floyd Aaskov had a merry time throughout the race with the Elvas of Frank Baptista and Art Tweedale, all finishing in that order. Don Sesslar's very fine handling of his Porsche RS certainly deserves an accolade. His second place overall attests to a great drive. The last time I saw a Spyder do as well was Jack McAfee's equally great ride, also against Hansgen, at Cumberland three years ago.
        It is a great pity that so many owners of hot machines, at least in this general area, prefer to forego National events in favor of Regional competition. Apparently the majority of owners prefer to compete among themselves, rather than to try to defeat the powerful corporations which, for all practical purposes, are the equivalent of the European factory teams. My personal hunch is that a well organized Regional race at VIR would draw a much larger and more representative field than those which have shown at the first three races. Probably be a lot more interesting, tool