VIR - 1959 May - Race Report & Class Winners

Virginia International Raceway, May 2-3, 1959

Hansgen Wins Fourth Feature At VIR Despite Bid By Sesslar

Walter Hansgen of Westfield, N.J., again displayed his domination of the Virginia International Raceway yesterday afternoon - but not without a struggle.

The 1958 SCCA national points champion moved into the lead on the fourth lap of the 40-lap feature and held it the rest of the way despite the efforts of Don Sesslar of Lancaster, Ohio.

The victory was Hansgen's fourth in as many feature races in VIR history.

Driving a new Porsche RSK, Sesslar pursued the mighty Lister-Jaguar like a little pup snapping at the heels of a fleeing mailman. Sesslar ran out of gas on the final lap but managed to take second place overall and first in his class.

Third place went to Fred Windridge of Arlington, driving a Lister-Corvette. He led during the first three laps, but the big machinery couldn't stand the pace for the 128 miles.

Hansgen averaged 77.62 for the feature. but the fastest lap was turned in by Sesslar, who whirled around the 3.2-mile paved course on the 33rd lap in two minutes and 24.2 seconds, tying the competitive course record set by Hansgen last spring .

Early in the race, the second Lister-Jaguar owned by Briggs Cunningham also was in contention with Dr. Richard Thompson of Washington at the wheel. On the 22nd lap, Thompson pulled into the pit area land explained that the gas fumes had him dizzy. Cunningham, the millionaire sportsman from Connecticut, took over the wheel and managed to take third in his class.

Heat was a factor throughout the afternoon, with several drivers saying afterward that they could have done better except for near-exhaustion.

It was good weather for the spectators, and the rains held off until after the final race was completed.

The largest field of entries in the history of VIR brought out the largest crowd; The Danville Shrine Club sponsors had not completed tabulations today but they were confident they had made a considerable sum to go to the Crippled Children's Hospital at Greenville, S.C.

There were few mishaps and no really serious injuries although there were numerous close calls. A blowout may have robbed Harry Blanchard of Greenwich, Conn., of first place in the opening race. He was well out front when he drifted into the pits but lost too much time to get back into contention in the 20-lap affair.

With Blanchard out, that race developed into a keen contest among three other Porsche drivers: Bruce Jennings of Towson, Md., Gene Hobbs of Silver Spring, Md., and Tom Payne of Ann Arbor, Mich. The three took turns at leading , all within 50 yards, until the last few laps, when Payne started losing oil and fell back. Jennings won with Hobbs second and G. C. Lazar of Riderwood Md., moving up for third overall. Jennings' winning speed was 69.44 miles per hour while Blanchard turned in the fastest time, 71.28 mph. on the 15th lap.

In this race, "Team Roosevelt" swept the honors in Class I Production as the Fiat-Abarths paraded. Winners in order were Paul Richards, Charles Callanan, Stover Babcock and John Norwood, all of Washington. Other class winners in the first race were C. A, Stoddard, Mentor, Ohio, in an Alfa Romeo, G-Production; Ray Heppenstall Philadelphia, DB Special, H-Production, and J. Eichenlaub, Cleveland, Osca, H-Modified. Driving an Osca, Cunningham took second place in H-modified.

The only runaway race of the afternoon was the second, a 20-lap affair. Jim Jeffords of Milwaukee, Wis., jumped out front with his purple Corvette on the very start and stayed there - demonstrating why he was 1958 national points champion in B Production classification.

Jeffords averaged 72.112 for the 64 miles. After reaching 73.2 mph on the second lap, Jeffords eased up a bit, holding his lead and playing it safe. Second and third place overall went to Roy C. Tuerke of Washington, driving a Corvette, and Ed Welch of Norfolk, in an AC-Bristol.

In addition to Jeffords and Welch, class winners included Robert Grossman, West Nyack, N. Y., in a Ferrari, C-Production, and Fred Spross, Poughkeepsie, N. Y., driving an Austin-Healy in D-Production.

In the finale, it appeared throughout that Sesslar might duplicate his feat at Marlboro, N.J., two weeks earlier, when he beat Hansgen in the rain. At one point, Hansgen led by 15 seconds. Going into the final lap, however, Sesslar had closed the gap to a couple of carlengths and appeared ready to gamble for the lead when he ran out of gas.

Sesslar's crew explained they had tried to figure the amount of gas needed on the basis of earlier races on level tracks and apparently didn't figure on the hills.

In addition to Hansgen and Sesslar, other class winners in the finale were Bill Burroughs of Atlanta, who drove here from California to race his Ferrari, and Art Tweedale of Washington, driving an Elva in Class G-Modified.

Visiting sports car enthusiasts repeatedly commented on the outstanding job turned in by the Shriners in preparing for the big weekend.

 Complete Race Results

RACE NO. 1 - 20 LAPS - (Classes F, G, H, and I Production, plus H-Modified)
Overall - -
1. Bruce Jennings Towson, Md. Porsche
2. Gene Hobbs Silver Springs, Md. Porsche
3. G. C Lazar Riderwood, Md. Porsche
Class F Production - -
1. Bruce Jennings Silver Springs, Md . Porsche
2. Gene Hobbs Towson, Md. Porsche
3. G. C. Lazar Riderwood, Md. Porsche
Class C Production - -
1. C. A. Stoddard Mentor, Ohio Alfa
2. Reed Rollo Washington Alfa
3. Allan Lance New York City Alfa
Class H. Production - -
1. Ray Heppenstall Philadelphia. Pa. DB Special
2. Dudley C. Deimel Columbus, Ohio AH Sprite
Class I Production - -
1. Paul Richards Washington Fiat Abarth
2. Charles Callanam Washington Fiat Abarth
3. Stover Babcock Washington Fiat Abarth
Class H Modified - -
1. J. Eichenlaub Cleveland, Ohio Osca
2. B . S. Cunningham Green Farms. Conn. Osca
3. Ray Cuomo Washington Fiat Abarth

RACE NO. 2 - 20 LAPS - (Classes B, C, D, and E Production)
Overall - -
1. Jim Jeffords Milwaukee. Wisc. Corvette
2. Roy C. Tuerke Washington Corvette
3. Ed Welch Norfolk AC Bristol
Class B Production - -
1. Jim Jeffords Milwaukee, Wise . Corvette
2. Roy C. Tuerke Washington Corvette
3. Bob Johnson Columbus, Ohio Corvette
Class C Production  -  -
1. Robert M. Grossman West Nyack, N.Y. Ferrari
2. David Gausey Carmel, Ill. Jag 150-S
3. Howard L. Quick Evanston, Ill. Jaguar
Class D Production - -
1. Fred Spross Poughkeepsie, N.Y. AH
2. Robert L. Hathaway Poughkeepsie, N.Y. AH
3. John K. Colgate, Jr. Lewes, Del. AH
Class E Production - -
1. Ed Welch Norfolk AC Bristol
2. Pierre R. Mion Arlington AC Bristol
3. David J. Zabludoff Philadelphia, Pa. AC Bristol

RACE NO. 3 - 40 LAPS (Classes B, C, D, E, and F and G Modified)
Overall - -
1. Walt Hansgen Westfield, N.J. Lister-Jag
2. Don Sesslar Lancaster. Ohio Porsche
3. Fred Windridge Arlington Lister-Corvette
Class B Modified - -
1. Fred Windridge Arlington Lister-Corvette
Class C. Modified - -
1. Walt Hansgen Westfield, N.J. Lister-Jag
2. Allen Connell, Jr . Ft. Worth, Tex. Ferrari
3. B. S. Cunningham
     Dick Thompson
Green Farms
Class E Modified - -
1. Bill Burroughs Atlanta, Ga . Ferrari
2. Gene Parsons Waukegan, Ill. Maserati G
3. James Place Durham. N. C . Ferrari
Class F Modified - -
1. Don Sesslar Lancaster, Ohio Porsche
2. Roger Penske Allentown, Pa. Porsche
3. H. Blanchard Greenwich, Conn. Porsche
Class G. Modified - -
1. Art Tweedale Washington Elva
2. M. R. J. Wylie Allison Park, Pa . Lotus
3. T. D. Neal Greensboro, N.C. V.W Special