Vintage Racing Heats Up at VIR
By Harry Kennison
The big winner at the Gold Cup Historic Races held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) June 6–8 was the heat. Unseasonable scorching temperatures and humidity to match greeted over 150 entries for this year's vintage event. How hot was it? Literally hot enough to fry an egg on the 3.1 mile rolling ribbon of asphalt that is VIR. The spectators who usually dot VIR's open hillsides had all retreated for the shade of the trees or under the covered concession stand trying to get some relief. Every now and then, a welcome breeze would blow, turning your body into a human swamp cooler.
I drove down with my buddy, Paul, for Saturday's practice and qualifying races and was fortunate to see several cars that did not take to the track on Sunday when PCA member Keith Welty and Paul Glassner found a significantly depleted field. I was counting on them to get an on-track shot of the striking orange 1966 Porsche 906 E on Sunday, owned and driven by Henry Payne IV from Michigan, as its practice session had just completed by the time I arrived on Saturday. But it never showed its nose during Sunday's feature race. The same was the case for several Italian thoroughbreds, including a sleek, silver 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and a gorgeous 1957 Maserati 300S, whose owner elected to protect those astronomically expensive cams and gears from the blistering heat by keeping them in their trailer.
Overall, Porsches were under-represented at this year's event aside from the aforementioned 906 and a trio of 911's driven by J. William Miller (#330) and Dan McChesney (#2), both over from Maryland, and Doug Nargiz (#244), up from Florida. The 911's didn't seem to mind the heat, with Nargiz and McChesney finishing 6th and 7th in the Group F feature race running against a Ford GT, a Shelby Mustang GT 350, and a 1965 Corvette Sting Ray among others.
(All photos by Harry Kennison except #6, which was provided by Greg Glassner)