Well, here’s the final post for the 2017 Mitty. This is the last race I photographed since the rain on Sunday kept me away. One of the biggest surprises of the race was when Doc Bundy pulled into the pits just as the field was taking the green flag. He usually dominates this group, and my first thought was that someone else would finally get a chance to stand at the top of the podium. Sorry, Doc.
I kept a similar vantage point as with the Group 6 Sprint Race in the previous post. Turn 10A/B is a great passing area, and there are gravel traps on either side to keep cars away from the walls. This means there is opportunity for action. However, the drivers were pretty well behaved in this race.
Again Greg Ira was driving his 3.0L 240Z with the big boys and doing quite well until he noticed a loose hood pin and hauled the car into the pits before damage could be done.
There’s over 400 photos in this set. Click on the last photo to get to the full set. If you look carefully, you’ll see several cars picking up the right front tire off the ground as they exit Turn 10B.
After spending time with friends in the paddock and up at the car corral, it was back to watching the racing. The Group 6 cars were out. The Nissan GTP-ZX was running away from everybody, too, until a late race problem forced it into the pits.
After the Group 5 qualifying session, I walked from the infield over to the paddock. Unfortunately, this caused me to miss the Group 6 qualifying with the prototypes, but I got to the paddock in time to see the Group 3 cars lining up to go on the track.
I took to the bridge over the front straight in time to get a few photos of the Group 6 cars coming into the pits. Soon the Group 3 cars were buzzing about the track. This was the largest group of cars in the Mitty. Lots of cars means that there are opportunities for more problems. Sure enough, they had to come in so the safety crews could retrieve a car. Fortunately it didn’t take long, and before I knew it, the cars were headed back onto the track.
Click on the last photo to get to the full set. There are 500 photos, so grab a cold drink or a hot coffee and start scrolling.
On Saturday I arrived just in time to start shooting the Group 5 Qualifying session. After a few shots from the top of the hill at Turn 10, I moved to the outside of the track near Turn 10B.
Group 5 cars have a great variety of noise from V8s to V12s, flat 6s and straight 6s. The 240Z you see in the group has a 3 liter engine. That 25% increase in displacement allowed it to keep up pretty well with the big boys. It was third fastest during that qualifying session.
It was time for my favorite annual event: The Mitty at Road Atlanta. As usual I parked my car in the infield, broke out the camera and sunscreen, grabbed a valve cover I polished for a friend, and headed down to the paddock. My friend wasn’t at his trailer, but he had posted his guard dog to protect everything.
While there are the usual people that come to race every year, there are always unusual and special cars in the paddock area.
The Nissan GTP-ZX was one of the fastest cars on the track. No one in its class was even close. In its racing history, the Nissan GTP-ZX was the first car able to defeat the legendary Porsche 962 for the IMSA GTP championship.
This is the third time I’ve seen the Cheetah at The Mitty. The Cheetah is a front mid-engine car with Chevrolet power designed and produced in the 60s to compete with another legendary car, the Shelby Cobra.
Of course, while some people say race cars run on high octane fuel, the truth is that they run on money and plenty of it. This Porsche 918 Spyder was parked next to several cars participating in The Mitty. Between the haulers, RVs and nice cars, there is a lot of money at the track.
I’m always on the lookout for Datsuns, though. Greg Ira brought his car up from Florida to run against classic Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs and 911s. He was mixing it up with them pretty well, too.
There were plenty of 510s on hand, too. Unfortunately one was lost for the weekend when Bob Leitzinger experienced a mechanical failure coming down the front straight, heading into Turn 1. I was at the end of the front straight at the time and saw him zip past, fly over the gravel trap and slam into the tire wall. While the front clip was much shorter than stock, the roll cage kept the passenger compartment intact. Bob was extracted from the car and taken to a local hospital where he is recovering.
After I finished roaming through the paddock, I returned to infield to spend the afternoon. I set up a chair in the shade of a tree near the bridge and watched the cars fly down from the bridge to turn 12 before getting on the front stretch. I was later joined by a couple of friends, and we swapped car stories during the pauses on the track. I tried my luck at taking photos of the cars coming down from the bridge and going into turn 12, but there wasn’t quiet enough light to give me a fast enough shutter speed, so lots of photos ended up deleted. I had better luck on Saturday, but it will take a while to upload all of those photos. Meanwhile, click on the Datsun 510 above to get to the 400+ photos I posted from Friday.
I watched the morning weather intently. Would the weather hold out for a day of racing? The weatherman said some storms would move near but break up. It looked good.
I had packed most of what I wanted to take the night before. I got my drinks, snacks and cameras into the car and set off for Road Atlanta. There was a breeze out of the west, and the air was cool enough that it made for a nice drive with the window down. Traffic was very light which was to be expected on a Saturday, and it not too much time, I was at the gates of the track. After signing my life away, I made for the infield.
I scouted out the trees near Turn 10, looking for ones near a good parking spot that would also yield shade as the sun passed overhead. Some of the trees were providing some shade near the top of the seating area for Turn 10, so I grabbed my camera bag and chair, and settled down to enjoy the cars and cool breeze. This wasn’t a big racing event. I was the only one in the area aside from the corner worker manning the entrance to the turn. I took some photos from the protection of the shade and moved down to the fence to take some more from a different vantage point.
Eventually I saw a 280ZX turn drive through the tunnel into the infield. I walked over to the car as it parked a little ways away from me and met the driver and passenger who were also father and son. We enjoyed the racing and talked about the son’s future military plans. A couple of other Georgia Z Club members arrived, and I resumed taking photos when the next group of cars took the track. That session seemed to be jinxed. First, I saw a lot of smoke coming from Turn 9. I saw a car sitting on the inside part of the track. I walked across the bridge to the other side of the track for some more photos, and not too long after that, a 911 spun around the drift circle. I thought it rather odd for the driver to lose control there. About another lap later, I saw a Lotus 7 spin in Turn 10, smoking badly before pulling off to the infield side of the track, and a Lola spun shortly after with other cars locking up their brakes too easily in the same area. It was obvious that there was something on the track. Eventually the corner worker put out the flag to warn the drivers of the hazard, and not much later, the track was cleared to deal with the problem.
At that point we headed over to the paddock area to see a friend who was racing. Another couple of friends joined us, and we decided to grab a bite at the Paddock Grill. Having satisfied our appetites, we headed back over to Turn 10. The morning shade was gone from Turn 10, so I retrieved my canopy, and we set up at the top of the hill. We enjoyed a few more racing sessions and finally called it a day.
I got to the track during the first enduro. Action is slow on Sunday. There aren’t nearly as many spectators. Many teams have already packed their trailers and hit the road. Quiet hours limit the amount of racing. Still, it is nice just to relax around Road Atlanta. After photographing the enduro, I visited the Concour de Lemons. Unfortunately it was more ChumpCar/LeMons racers than ugly cars that you would be surprised to see in good shape.
I visited with my friends in the Paddock again and took photos of the parade laps. I ran into another friend in the paddock. It was his first time to be at The Mitty, so I dragged him around the paddock some and took him over to turn 10 to see some of the action. After a few more hours of enjoying the racing, it was time to call an end to the weekend.
I’ll be back again next year. It will be 10 straight years.
It was a great day for vintage car racing. There was no threat of rain, and the thermometer planned on getting up into the low 80s.
Since it rained on Friday, I spent a good part of the morning walking the paddock and talking to friends who were running cars.
One of the hero stories of the weekend that you almost never hear about involves the Pirate Racing Z car of Scott Curry. After running in The Mitty last year, he mentioned to a couple of us that he needed a new engine. He got hooked up with a very knowledgeable Z car person who built a new engine. It was installed in March and put on the dyno for final tuning before going to the track on Thursday. Then disaster struck. An oil pump failure caused a lost engine. They scrambled for another engine, sourcing it from local friends, and put it together on Friday. Saturday, Scott was back on the track and managed to get in 3 7-lap sprints. I got to see one of the camshaft towers from the blown engine on Sunday.
Unfortunately, there was a significant delay on Saturday when one of the UOP Shadow CanAm cars wrecked hard in Turn 12. The driver was severely injured and is facing a lengthy recovery. The family is being kind enough to keep us updated on his progress on their Facebook page. It serves as a sobering reminder that while this is “friendly” racing, there is still a lot of danger involved.
There are a lot of photos to see. You’ll notice a heavy Z car bent since I was also taking photos for my racing friends and fellow Georgia Z Car Club members.
It chased me away – The rain. I got up early, and I could hear it. That is not the right weather for spending a day at the track. I ate breakfast and watched the weather radar online, hoping that the storms would fizzle out.
Finally, I saw a break in the weather. I hurried over to the track. There was no time to waste. I made my way over to the paddock and started taking photos. After an hour or so, the drops started falling again. With the threat of thunderstorms and maybe even hail, I decided to retreat back home. Sure enough, the heavens opened up on the drive back.
After a couple of hours, I checked the weather radar again. The storms were breaking up for the afternoon. I returned to the track and met up with friends. I managed to enjoy some racing and try out my new lens.
Eventually, I hope to create some GIFs from this weekends photos. We’ll see how much time I have.