2014 Mitty Report
April 25-27, 2014
Another Mitty vintage race (my 6th in a row) is history and in the books as it was. Three Corvairs of Mike Levine, David Clemens and yours truly showed up. That is the lowest number since I have been attending the Mitty. We raced, we had issues which were overcome and we were all successful in our mission to once again let the public see race prepared Corvairs in action.
The weather could not have been better. Cool mornings with not too hot days. No rain was felt for the entire five days although it was predicted to come on Friday As I like to say it was perfect weather for air cooled cars and old fat guys in fire suits!
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon as usual and met up with Mike Levine who was already in line at registration. There was not nearly the crowd of early birds waiting to get in as there was in previous years. Anything from gazillion dollar big rigs to people like me with a pickup truck and an open trailer could be seen awaiting the mad scramble for a good spot in the paddock. That happened around 1:30 or so and was fairly orderly. Mike had out usual spot picked out. We needed to save room for David Clemens rig and Barry fifth wheel camper which was to be our HQ for the weekend. The main pit or Pro Pits as it’s officially called located inside the track itself filled up quickly. Some folks require a lot of real estate and zealously guard it! We did have easy access to water and power.
I was the only one of our group who signed up for the Test & Tune day on Thursday which has been my habit over the years. I feel it gives me time to fix anything on the car if needed and helps knock off the rust from sitting around all winter! There’s no substitute for seat time and it gets rid of the “butterflies” I always feel the first time on track.
Mike and I got our area marked off and the basic pit camp set up so it was time to go check in at the hotel which is the same one we have always used since coming here in 2009.
Thursday, April 24, Group Test Day.
I didn’t make it out for the first of three test sessions starting at 8:00 AM as I needed to finish setting up my area and prepping the car. I did get out for the 10:30 session and after about three laps a “Porch” lunched its engine at the top of the Esses which brought out the full course black flag so it was back to the grid to wait. By the time the mess was cleaned up there was no time left and they sent us back to the paddock. At the 2:30 session I finally got in a full run. I had to keep reminding myself it’s just a test session, not a race. I guess most of the other drivers didn’t hear that at the drivers meeting. I think Porsche drivers are all deaf! The run was enough to let me know the Sunoco Corvair was running and the old driver remembered which way the track went! The weather was great with temps in the mid 70’s.
Friday, April 25, Qualifying and Practice sessions, Group 2 Qualifying.
I certainly had one of my best ever days at the Mitty on this day. I went out for the first morning qualifying session. My run was clean with no off track excursions enough to bring out any flags and the track was grippy with cool temps and slight overcast skies. I didn’t feel the run was anything out of the ordinary but did feel comfortable. I came in afterward and was sitting in my chair cooling off when Janet came back with the time sheets. Since I didn’t feel I was any faster than usual I began to scan the sheet from the bottom up as that is usually where I am. As I read further up there I was at 9th fastest and first in my group! At a 1:48.652 I was almost four seconds faster than my best ever time at Road Atlanta! With all this being said I naturally went out for the afternoon session with more confidence than ever to see if I could get faster. It was not to be as I visited the gravel pit coming out of turn 10A into 10B where I went off. I believe they black flagged the rest of that session because I was in a position where any other cars going off there could hit me. The rollback came along and pulled me out. The car wasn’t damaged and I drove it back to our area. It did need a wash off and I spent considerable time picking pea gravel out of all the nooks and crannies. It sure humbles you in a hurry.
Saturday, April 26, Feature Race 1, Group 2.
This was probably one of the best and most exciting races I have ever had. Due to my good qualifying time there were only a few cars ahead of me on the grid, which is a picture I had never enjoyed before. It eliminates having to waste time picking off all the slower cars from other classes. I had the most fun trying to get around a well prepped and driven Triumph Spitfire. I was marginally faster on the long back stretch and after several attempts managed to pass him by out braking him in turn 10A. As we passed a flag stand I saw the white flag meaning last lap so I needed to keep him behind me for one more lap which I did. I managed a 2nd place in my class and a 15th out of 47 starters overall. Again it was another best for me as I turned a 1:50.829 fastest race lap which was 2 seconds better than my best race lap ever here! It was “beer-thirty” in the paddock for me!
Sunday, April 27, Feature Race 2, Group 2.
The race began at 10:00 AM and I again had a good grid position as a result of my finish on Saturday. I had some good action in this race as well but I again had a slight off track experience in turn 10B which is where I went off before. This time I stayed out of the gravel pit and got it under control enough to get back on track but by this time I had lost the lead pack. I was trying to catch the same Spitfire I had fun with on Saturday but I let him get by me in turn 1 at the start. All said it was still a good race for me and I still turned a faster race lap at 1:49.597 than before.
We hit the road for home early (2:00AM!) Monday morning and other than a flat tire on the trailer it was an uneventful trip. It was the first time since I bought my trailer that it had a flat tire. It was a new one also. I really wasn’t aware when it occurred as I thought I just ran over something in the road that I did not see. I decided to pull in to the welcome center as we entered South Carolina to check it out. Apparently when the tire blew it shredded off the rim. All that was left were two beads on a destroyed rim! I threw on the spare and encountered no further delays.
All said it was another great time with good weather that blotted out the cold rain of last year!