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LATEST NEWS – The Gold Historic Races – VIR’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

Legendary Corvette Driver Returning to VIR

Danville, Va. (April 4) – Dr. Dick Thompson, the “Flying Dentist” who drove Corvettes and Porsches to numerous victories in sports car races of the 50s and 60s plans to return to one of the classic race tracks of the era, VIRginia International Raceway, for that track’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races, June 8, 9 and 10.

The “Flying Dentist” started racing in 1956, winning the Sports Car Club of America’s national championships in that year, plus 1957, 1960, 1961 and 1962 in A, B and C Production classes. He won a feature race at Sebring in class in 1957, drove a Corvette Grand Sport to a Watkins Glen victory in 1963, the same year he captured third at Daytona. Again at Daytona, he won GT in 1970. Putting his knowledge of the cars and racing to good use, he wrote The Corvette Guide in 1958, as a handbook for Corvette racers. He was inducted into the Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2000.

While he was best known as a Corvette specialist, Dr. Thompson also drove other cars, usually Porsches, and drove both marques at VIR’s first weekend of racing. At VIR, he won the B Production heat race in a Corvette and took third in a Porsche Carrera GT in the F Sports class. Thompson duplicated those finishing positions in the feature races for those classes. In the weekend’s top race, the 24–lap “Grand Prix” Thompson secured an entry in a Jaguar XKSS and finished fourth overall and in class, behind Carroll Shelby, Walt Hansgen and Charles Wallace, in a Maserati 450S and a pair of newer Jaguar D–types.

Dr. Thompson also surprised VIR with a 50th Anniversary present – a donation of the sterling silver trophy he won at the track in 1966. “We are excited and honored to have Dr. Thompson join us for the Gold Cup and are very thankful for the donation of this important piece of VIR history,” said VIR’s General Manager Josh Lief.

Dr. Thompson is joining Carroll Shelby, who won the feature race that opening weekend, Chris Economaki, who was track announcer to open VIR’s first fifty years, and several other historic figures and cars from VIR’s history as part of the Gold Cup weekend. Tickets are available for the Gold Cup races online through the VIR website.

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located just on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Virginia. In addition to its 3.27 mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8 mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27–room trackside hotel; the VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/lodging units and garages; Camp Motorsport; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

John Davison
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 919.271.8796
Home: 704.784.4630
Web: www.virclub.com

“Father of the Cobra” Returns to VIR for 50th Anniversary Reunion

Danville, Va. (March 28) – Carroll Shelby, star race driver of the 50s, originator of the legendary Cobra and legend in sports car racing, will return to the scene of one of his most significant wins – Virginia International Raceway for the June 8–10 Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the track’s opening, in August, 1957, the Gold Cup will reunite Shelby with the track and his original Maserati 450S in which he captured the opening weekend’s feature race, a twenty–lap race for “Sports” classed cars. Shelby won the preliminary race for the group, then went on to dominate the feature race, besting a pair of Jaguar D–types and an assortment of other racers.

Following the race, in heat nearing 100 degrees, Shelby commented that “One lap at VIR is like a hundred at Watkins Glen.” Shelby then went on to co–drive an Aston Martin DBR1 with Roy Salvadori in winning the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans before a forced retirement due to a heart ailment that led to a transplant in 1990.

VIR Co–Owner Harvey Siegel said: “We are thrilled that Carroll Shelby has agreed to join us as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of VIR. He is one of the true legends of the sport and an integral part of VIR’s early history.”

Shelby never slowed his personal activities, building the Cobra sports cars; campaigning cars for Ford’s GT–40 project and designing sports cars for street and racetrack. He is still a driving force in high performance cars. Carroll Shelby manufactures both small and big block Cobras, as well as the 2007 Ford Shelby GT Mustang in his Las Vegas facility. He works closely with Ford Motor Company on high performance vehicles such as the Shelby GT500 and has several other key cars in the pipeline. Shelby’s current activities include the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation, which has become a leading force in the fight to help children with acute coronary and kidney needs.

Shelby will return to the scene of one of his most storied victories, Virginia International Raceway, for the track’s 50th Anniversary, June 8–10.

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located just on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Virginia. In addition to its 3.27 mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8 mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27’room trackside hotel; the VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/lodging units and garages; Camp Motorsport; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

John Davison
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 919.271.8796
Home: 704.784.4630
Web: www.virclub.com

“Last Open Road” Auto Olympics added to VIR Gold Cup Weekend

Danville, Va. (Feb 5) – The Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races at VIRginia International Raceway, scheduled for June 8–10, will include a new feature this year. VIR is collaborating with popular motorsports author Burt (BS) Levy to create “The Last Open Road” Auto Olympics, a four–part competition for enthusiasts.

Levy, noted journalist and the author of the cult–classic racing novels The Last Open Road, Montezuma’s Ferrari, The Fabulous Trashwagon and Toly’s Ghost, created the concept in order to get fans more involved in a vintage–racing weekend.

“It’s important for owners of sports and classic cars to use and enjoy their cars, and we wanted to find a way to get the spectators more involved,” Levy explained. “Give them more of an opportunity to participate instead of just watch. And I think we’ve come up with something pretty special.”

The four segments of the “Last Open Road” Auto Olympics will include a car show, an autocross on VIR’s 1.1–mile Patriot Course, track touring on the 3.27–mile Full Course and a 90 –minute road rally on the country roads surrounding VIR. The scoring will favor participation over finishing position (although results will count), and trophies sponsored by VIR and Classic Motorsports magazine will be presented for individual, club and marque champions at the end of the weekend.

The car show segment will be in conjunction with the existing Gold Cup Car Show, which is organized by the Corsa Rossa organization from North Carolina.

“This year we’d like to expand the car show entry to include (in their own classes, of course) more older, classic sports cars, some American classics and muscle cars, more modern sports and GT cars like Boxsters, GTIs and Miatas and maybe even a few Drive–In Cruisers and Street Rods,” Levy said. “We’d like to invite more clubs to participate, too.”

The autocross portion of the event will use a course set up on the Patriot Course. Participants will sign up for a time in advance, rather than having to wait in long lines to get on the track. The track touring segment will be run on the full 3.27–mile Full Course behind a pace car, during breaks in the scheduled vintage racing action for lunch. The road rally will be a 90–minute “do–it–yourself/start–any–time–you–want” event, with participants punching in and out on a time clock and following a prescribed course on the winding country roads in Southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.

“By the way,” Levy added, “I’ll be the rallymaster, and I guarantee something really different and enjoyable. And maybe a little diabolical, too!”

A single entry fee of $125 (including two three–day spectator passes, three runs on the autocross course, rally entry, car show entry, lunchtime track touring and four lunch tickets at the Pagoda restaurant) will be available, along with special discounts for early registration ($10 off if registered before April 1) and multi–car “club entries” of six or more cars ($100 per car).

“We’re excited to be working with Burt Levy on “The Last Open Road” Auto Olympics,” said VIR general manager Josh Lief. “Burt’s devilish sense of humor should lend itself perfectly to a fun event for our fans that will enable them to be more intimately involved with the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races and compete for their own trophies. We’re really looking forward to the weekend.”

Advance three–day Super Tickets for the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races will be priced at $30. At the gate, three–day Super Tickets will be priced at $40. Also, single–day tickets will be available for Friday ($10, gate only), Saturday ($15 advance/$20 gate) and Sunday ($15 advance/$20 gate). VIR is a family–friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available. Call 434–822–7700 x300 or x116 for advance ticket sales.

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River outside Danville, Virginia. In addition to its 3.27–mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsport country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8–mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27–room trackside hotel; the new VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/lodging units and garages; the new Villas at South Bend, a 60–unit residential villa complex; Camp Motorsport, a motorsports–themed summer camp for young people aged 10–16; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

For more information on VIRginia International Raceway, or for ticket and entry information for the Gold Cup Historic Races, visit the track’s website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434–822–7700.

John Gardner
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 704.467.1424
Web: www.virclub.com

Corsa Rossa to Host Gold Cup Car Show

Alton, Va. (Jan. 18) – VIRginia International Raceway is pleased to announce that the Corsa Rossa organization will host and organize the 2007 Gold Cup Car Show, which will be part of the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races over the weekend of June 8–10.

Corsa Rossa is a North Carolina-based organization devoted primarily to classic Italian cars, but welcomes owners and enthusiasts of all interesting cars.

The Gold Cup Car Show, which will take place on Saturday, June 9, has become part of the annual Gold Cup tradition at VIR, and is open to all interesting cars. There is no fee to enter the car show, but Corsa Rossa does encourage donations for the Brenner Children’s Hospital. Entrants and guests will be required to purchase an admission ticket at the gate.

Gold Cup Car Show entrants will compete for trophies, and will be allowed to tour the full 3.27–mile VIR circuit during lunch. In addition, they will be able to take touring laps on the 1.1–mile Patriot Course in the afternoon following the conclusion of the car show.

The Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races is VIR’s signature, self–sanctioned vintage racing event. Dedicated to “reviving the vintage spirit,” the Gold Cup places the emphasis on fun and camaraderie rather than outright victory. The event has received rave reviews for its mix of low–key on– and off–track fun, and grids are assembled based on car/driver combinations rather than engine displacement or year of manufacture, guaranteeing close racing from the front to the back of the pack. Three days of on–track action will be complemented by off–track activities including parties, live music, a car show and a fun karting enduro for race entrants.

This year’s event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of VIR’s opening in 1957. Among the highlights of the weekend, in addition to the Gold Cup Car Show, will be: A Celebration of VIR’s 50th Anniversary with Very Special Guests and Cars; “Storytime” with special guests, reminiscing and answering questions in an informal setting; the public debut of a specially–commissioned painting by Mike Mate illustrating the most significant cars and drivers in VIR’s history; a signing party with the artist and drivers depicted in the painting; the annual “Black and White Party” for drivers, crew and guests at VIR’s antebellum Plantation Clubhouse; and a weekend full of old–fashioned vintage racing, the way it was meant to be!

There will be no featured marque for the weekend, other than “VIR History Cars and Drivers.” VIR encourages everyone who raced at the track or has a car that raced at the track between 1957 and 1974 to come back for the big weekend.

“We are very pleased to be involved with VIR and the 2007 Gold Cup Car Show,” said Corsa Rossa’s Bill Dymond. “It is a beautiful facility, and with one of America’s finest vintage racing weekends on tap, will be a perfect backdrop for our cars. We’re really looking forward to the weekend.”

“We are very happy that the Corsa Rossa organization has teamed up with us to present the Gold Cup Car Show during the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races weekend,” said VIR general manager Josh Lief. “We’re looking forward to a great selection of interesting and beautiful cars, and we know that it will be a perfect complement to the racing action.”

Advance three–day Super Tickets for the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races will be priced at $30. At the gate, three–day Super Tickets will be priced at $40. Also, single–day tickets will be available for Friday ($10, gate only), Saturday ($15 advance/$20 gate) and Sunday ($15 advance/$20 gate). VIR is a family–friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available. Call 434–822–7700 x300 or x116 for advance ticket sales.

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27–mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, a sales showroom for high–end collector and racing cars; Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8–mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27–room trackside hotel; the new VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/ lodging units and garages; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

For more information on VIRginia International Raceway, or for ticket and entry information for the Gold Cup Historic Races, visit the track’s website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434–822–7700.

John Gardner
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 704.467.1424
Web: www.virclub.com

Heacock Classic Named Title Sponsor of Gold Cup Historic Races

Alton, Va. (Jan. 5) – VIRginia International Raceway is proud to announce that Heacock Classic has been named the title sponsor of the Gold Cup Historic Races.

The Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races is scheduled for the weekend of June 8–10, and this year’s event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of VIR’s opening in 1957 with a number of special guests and significant racing cars.

Heacock Classic, formerly known as Parish–Heacock Insurance, specializes in insurance coverage for classic, collectible and vintage racing cars. Heacock Classic is a division of Heacock Insurance Group, Inc., based in Sebring, Fla. Heacock Insurance is a full–service independent insurance agency which has been in business since 1922. Parish Motorsports Insurance in Burns, Tenn., became part of the Heacock Insurance Group in March, 2000, expanding their client list to over 20,000 collector car clients nationwide.

Company president Ford Heacock III is a serious automobile enthusiast. As a native of Sebring, Fla., his family was intimately involved in the heyday of Sebring’s international sports car races. His grandfather (Ford Sr.) was the first local chairman of the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance. After college, Ford III took an active interest in the burgeoning vintage sports car racing hobby. He founded both the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), a national organization for vintage racing, and Vintage Motorsport magazine. Today, in addition to his duties as president of Heacock Classic, Ford finds time to organize the annual Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival in Lakeland, Fla. He is currently restoring a 1953 Jaguar XK120 roadster.

“I’m very excited about Heacock Classic having the opportunity to become title sponsor of the Gold Cup Historic Races at VIR,” Heacock said. “As a past vintage racer and founder of SVRA and Vintage Motorsport, I look forward to reconnecting with my good friends from long ago. Insurance for vintage racing cars and collector cars is our specialty, and I can’t think of a better way to network with our best customers and prospects.”

“We are thrilled to have Heacock Classic as our title sponsor for the Gold Cup Historic Races,” said VIR general manager Josh Lief. “The Gold Cup is a very special event for us, and with this year’s celebration of VIR’s 50th anniversary we are determined to make it one of the “must–attend” events of 2007. The opportunity to work with Heacock Classic is a perfect match, and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”

The Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races is VIR’s signature, self–sanctioned vintage racing event. Dedicated to “reviving the vintage spirit,” the Gold Cup places the emphasis on fun and camaraderie rather than outright victory. The event has received rave reviews for its mix of low–key on– and off–track fun, and grids are assembled based on car/driver combinations rather than engine displacement or year of manufacture, guaranteeing close racing from the front to the back of the pack. Three days of on–track action will be complemented by off–track activities including parties, live music, a car show and a fun karting enduro for race entrants.

Advance three–day Super Tickets for the Heacock Classic Gold Cup Historic Races will be priced at $30. At the gate, three–day Super Tickets will be priced at $40. Also, single–day tickets will be available for Friday ($10, gate only), Saturday ($15 advance/$20 gate) and Sunday ($15 advance/$20 gate). VIR is a family–friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available. Call 434–822–7700 x300 or x116 for advance ticket sales.

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27–mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, a sales showroom for high–end collector and racing cars; Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8–mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27–room trackside hotel; the new VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/ lodging units and garages; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

For more information on VIRginia International Raceway, or for ticket and entry information for the Gold Cup Historic Races, visit the track’s website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434–822–7700.

John Gardner
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 704.467.1424
Web: www.virclub.com

Legendary Scarab to Return to VIR

Scarab 1958

Alton, Va. (December 5) – The 2007 Gold Cup Historic Races, scheduled for June 8–10, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of VIRginia International Raceway. To commemorate the occasion, VIR is expecting a number of very significant racing cars that helped form the track’s history.

One of those cars is the legendary Scarab Mk I, which raced here over the weekend of May 3–4, 1958. The Scarab is a very historic car, an all-American sports car, built and campaigned by a “dream team” that took on and conquered the best that Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar and all the other established European manufacturers had to offer.

The Scarab was the brainchild of Lance Reventlow, a wealthy young Californian who was the son of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Reventlow decided in 1957 to build an All–American machine that could beat the world, and assembled a Los Angeles–based team of designers, fabricators and mechanics that was unparalleled. Three of the sleek, front–engined roadsters were built, all with beautiful hand–formed aluminum bodywork and 283ci Chevrolet V8 engines bored out to 339ci.

The first chassis, No. 001, made its race debut at Palm Springs, Calif. on April 13, 1958. Reventlow qualified second to the Maserati 450S of Carroll Shelby (the same car–and–driver combination that won VIR’s inaugural race in August 1957) and took the early lead, but misjudged his braking, took an escape road and had to fight back to third at the finish. The car sat out the Sunday feature due to engine damage.

Scarab No. 001’s second–ever race was at VIR, three weeks later. It was the first time that Reventlow’s squad would face off against the vaunted Briggs Cunningham team. Reventlow started third behind the Cunningham Lister–Jaguars of Walt Hansgen and Ed Crawford. Reventlow led early but faded to fifth in Saturday’s 30–minute sprint, and came home third, winning his class, behind Hansgen and Crawford in Sunday’s one–hour feature.

After leaving VIR, Reventlow’s Scarab team went on to win at Santa Barbara; at Minden–Gardnerville airport in Nevada; Montgomery, N.Y. (Chuck Daigh in the new No. 002 chassis); Thompson, Connecticut (Reventlow); and Meadowdale, Illinois (Daigh and Reventlow finishing 1–2).

The most famous race for the Scarab team followed at Riverside on October 12, where Daigh waged an epic battle with Phil Hill in John von Neumann’s new Ferrari 412MI, a one–of–a–kind Ferrari roadster fitted with a very special 4.0–liter V12 built for the single–seater Ferrari entry in the “Race of Two Worlds” at Monza, which pitted Formula 1 and Indianapolis 500 teams against each other. Daigh and Hill swapped the lead throughout the race, but Hill fell out near the finish with fuel starvation. Interestingly, although it never raced at VIR in its heyday, the Ferrari 412MI will also be at the Gold Cup Historics, bringing these two iconic cars together for only the third time in history.

The team went on to win again at Minden–Gardnerville, plus Laguna Seca and Nassau. By that time three chassis had been built, and at the end of the season Reventlow sold chassis Nos. 002 and 003 (for $17,500 each) and converted No. 001 to be his personal street car. The 002 and 003 chassis continued to race for a few more years (and chassis No. 002 raced at VIR in 1959 and 1963), but the cars never regained the dominance they enjoyed in 1958.

After selling the cars, Reventlow’s team embarked on an ill–fated quest to build an All–American Formula 1 car. Unfortunately, the car took so long to come to fruition that it was already obsolete by the time it reached the racetrack, the rear–engine revolution having already begun, relegating the front–engined Scarab to backmarker status.

If the late 1950s were the “golden era” of sports car racing, Lance Reventlow’s Scarab was the high–water mark for American enthusiasts. For a brief moment in time, an All–American team and car took on and defeated the best cars and drivers in the world. The Scarab was a car that wrote a big chapter in the history of American motorsport, and was one of the cars that helped form the history of VIRginia International Raceway.

“We are thrilled that the legendary Scarab will be returning to VIR for the 50th Anniversary Gold Cup Historic Races,” said VIR co–owner Harvey Siegel, “and we can’t wait to see the rematch between it and the Ferrari 412MI. It is our intention to make the 2007 Gold Cup one of the “must–attend” events of the year, and having these two cars battling each other again on the racetrack will go a long way toward realizing that goal.”

VIRginia International Raceway is a multi–purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27–mile natural–terrain road racing circuit, VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club; the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park; the VIR Gallery, a sales showroom for high–end collector and racing cars; Plantation Valley Kart Track, a 5/8–mile paved karting circuit; The Lodge at VIR, a 27–room trackside hotel; the new VIR Paddock Suites and Garages, with 18 dual–purpose hospitality/ lodging units and garages; and the Oak Tree Tavern, a full–service restaurant located within the circa–1840 Plantation Clubhouse.

For more information on VIRginia International Raceway, or for ticket and entry information for the Gold Cup Historic Races, visit the track’s website at www.virclub.com or telephone 434–822–7700.

Photo (attached) caption: Lance Reventlow’s Scarab No. 001 at VIR, during the weekend of May 4–5, 1958. (Photo by Les Nance/courtesy www.virhistory.com)

John Gardner
Director, Public Relations
VIRginia International Raceway
1245 Pine Tree Road
Alton, VA 24520
Work: 434.822.7700 x112
Cell: 704.467.1424
Web: www.virclub.com

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