Classic Motorsports Mitty Brings History To Road Atlanta Track
Atlanta, Apr. 23, 2011: History comes together from many angles at the annual Speedfest at the Classic Motorsports Mitty event at Road Atlanta April 28-May 1.
The Classic Motorsports Mitty is the oldest and largest historic car event on the East Coast. And what better place for more than 300 historic cars and motorcycles to flex their muscles than on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course?
Opened in 1970, Road Atlanta has hosted the Mitty since 1978. Through the years, some of the most historic and recognized race cars have been driven on the course by some of the top drivers in the world.
“Road Atlanta is ranked in the top five road circuits in North America, primarily for its many elevation changes, blind rises, the ski jump under the bridge and several high-speed turns,” said Steve Simpson, one of the founders of the Mitty.
“With the more powerful cars, the experience is magnified by the much higher speeds and cornering G forces you encounter,” he added.
“The Walter Mitty is a tremendous event, and it’s been around for a really long time. It’s a race unto itself,” said Jack Lewis, who will mark his 40th year of racing at this year’s Mitty.
“The first Mitty I did was either 1989 or 1990, and it was such a special weekend. The Mitty this year is going to exceed the field from last year, which is really exciting. It’s going to be quite an event. This event is kind of a Woodstock of races, and if people are going to race in an event, it’s going to be this one,” Lewis added.
Another veteran racer at Road Atlanta, Jack Baldwin noted, “Obviously, Road Atlanta is a world-class racetrack and one of the finest in this country, and it’s one of my favorites. It is so fast, and I love the elevation changes. It never gets old, it never gets boring, it’s always a thrill, and it’s one of those tracks that you are always looking forward to another lap.”
Baldwin is the Chief Instructor for the Porsche Cayman Interseries, just one of the many classes at the Mitty.
Mazda is the featured marquee for this year’s event, the first time the Japanese make has been so honored. Baldwin, a frequent class winner driving the Riley MkC III Judd with George Robinson, has a long history with Mazda too.
“Mazda is the most active auto racing manufacturer in the world. I got my first break driving a Mazda. Of the first 100 wins worldwide for Mazda, I contributed the most as an individual driver with 13 wins. Mazda has been extremely good to me as far as giving me the opportunities to win. Driving a Mazda, I’ve won the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Miami Grand Prix, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, you name it,” he said.
The Mitty even has celebrity drivers such as AC/DC band frontman Brian Johnson, who along with his wife, Brenda, frequently compete at the historic racing venue.
“It was great to get back to racing last year at the Mitty after two years of touring with the band,” said singer and lyricist Brian Johnson. “To come back and be on the podium with two second-place finishes was fantastic. Racing is a perfect way to escape your everyday, but with an adrenaline rush.”
The Classic Motorsports Mitty also features historic motorcycles. JB Layman has fielded a fleet of Yamahas at the event for the past three years.
“Some of the race car drivers are impressed that our lap times on the motorcycles are the same as the top cars. They are amazed at how well the motorcycles can navigate the turns. They think we’re crazy doing all this without a roll cage to protect us.
“At those speeds, 165 miles per hour on the back straight, with your body so close to the track, fences, barriers. Wow,” he said.
Colbi Bradley, a 22-year-old Georgia Tech student and driver of several types of cars, has been going to the event since she was a young child.
“These race cars are more than just historic cars, they are pieces of art. The feeling of being behind the wheel of such history is exhilarating. It really gives you an appreciation for how far race car technology has come,” she said.
Veteran driver Gene Felton has many memories of Road Atlanta, including a runner-up finish in the 1970s that featured several top NASCAR drivers. Felton finished second to Tiny Lund and just ahead of Hall of Fame driver Bobby Allison in the event.
Felton now heads up the historic NASCAR class event for the Classic Motorsports Mitty. He was asked by a reporter after his professional driving career ended if he was scared driving the historic NASCAR cars at Road Atlanta, especially going down the dip leading to the final turn.
“Hell yes, I was scared,” he said. “But now it doesn’t scare me in the least. I now back off at the end of the straight before even starting down the hill.”
Sponsor Louis Chevrolet Watches is proud to be a part of this year’s Mitty race and will be closely observing the HSR Endurance races on Saturday and Sunday. Racewatches.com will present a Louis Chevrolet watch to the HSR Endurance Series winner and their co-drivers at the 2011 year-end banquet.
The Classic Motorsports Mitty features something for everyone, not just racing on the track. If you own a Mazda, be sure to be part of our attempt to set a record for the world’s largest parade lap. We need 683 Mazdas to make the claim. Car corrals, auto crossing, autograph sessions, entertainment events and live music are just some of the activities fans can enjoy during the four-day event.