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.