Report and photos by David Ferguson, Rusty Nuts Photography
The HSR Mitty Speedfest 2011 was held April 29 – May 1 at the 2.54 mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. This year’s Mitty saw 302 entries, the largest number in 10 years. The featured marque was Mazda and Mazda racing great Jim Downing was Grand Marshal.
After two days of storms that brought so much death and destruction to the South of the US, the event was graced with perfect weather. The track did not suffer any damage during the storms, but many entrants had to deal with weather related hardships on their way to Road Atlanta. Perhaps the hard luck award goes to Harry Dinwiddie, a former IMSA racer, who towed his equipment through the storm only to have the engine in his Corvette let go in the very first practice session.
There were 12 races over the weekend including two enduros and two motorcycle races, providing a festival of speed, noise and color for the spectators and participants.
George Robinson turned the fastest lap of the weekend in his newly acquired Lola B07. The Judd-powered Lola turned a lap of 1:15.2 minutes for an average speed of 121.6 miles per hour.
Stacey Schepens drove her Morgan to third place in Sunday’s group 2 race to get her first ever podium. The other women participants at HSR Mitty Speedfest 2011 were Brenda Johnson, Debbie Cloud and Debra Graves.
Fred Ritenhour won the prestigious Walter Mitty Trophy which is given annually to the driver who best exemplifies the spirit of Walter Mitty, the James Thurber fictional character. Ritenhour, who races a Toyota Sports Racer in group 3, is a former Toyota executive.
Ari Malkhassian of Houston, Texas won the Mazda MX5 Cup despite furious pressure from Jason Saini and Justin Hall. The margin of victory was .02 seconds. Gunnar Jeannette won both Mission Foods GT3 races, and Keith Carroll won both Cayman Interseries events. There was a vintage motorcycle race which attracted 32 bikes of various sizes, classes and age. Billy Hauser on a Yamaha R1 was the winner.
Brian Johnson, lead singer for the rock band AC/DC raced his Lola T70 Mk. I and his Royale RP4. He perhaps summed up the weekend best when he said, “The Mitty is not so much a race as a festival of speed. It’s lots of fun and everybody is car nuts and a gear head.”