The HSR Mitty Speedfest 2016 was held on April 22-24 at the 12-turn, 2.54-mile Road Atlanta racetrack in Braselton, Georgia. Sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) and featuring the Ford marque, this year’s Mitty also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Can-Am series.
Over 280 entries were received for the 2016 Mitty. They raced in one of 10 classes, three enduros, two International/American challenges and a race for Ford powered cars. The fastest lap of the weekend was done by Theo Bean in a 1991 Chevy Intrepid, with a lap of 1:15.1, which averages out to 120 miles per hour.
More and more, vintage racing events in the United States have classes for cars that are not very vintage. This has created some controversy among fans and participants, but it’s gaining more and more acceptance among the fans. They enjoy the sound of the F-1 Benettons, the swoosh of Travis Engen’s Audi R8 LMP, or Juan Lopez-Santini toss his Porsche 997 Cup car over the curbs, landing sideways, bouncing up again and power oversteering on to the straight. It’s hard to imagine someone doing that in a wire-wheeled Jaguar XK120.
Vintage cars are what these events are about, however, and among the more notable ones there were two Cheetahs, five Lola T-70s, two Morgans, two McLaren M8Fs and three M1Bs, a Lotus 79 and many more. One of the most anticipated cars for this year’s Mitty was the 1974 Shadow DN4 driven by Craig Bennett along with the DN4 he drove last year, now in the capable hands of Dave Handy.
This was the 39th running of the Mitty. It has become a tradition for many spectators to welcome spring by driving their wonderful old sports cars to the event, and camping with like-minded friends in their old sports cars. There are corrals set up for German, Italian, Japanese and American cars. These fill up with cars brightly polished by their proud owners, hoods opened wide to show off the engines. The event is really about people gathering to share their passion.
Gene Felton was a successful IMSA racer from the 1970s and ’80s. He raced his championship winning IMSA American Challenge Chevrolet Nova in vintage events. His last race was the 2013 Mitty where he won his class, although health reasons have kept him away from the driver’s seat. Frank Marcum bought Felton’s Nova, and decided to honor Felton’s last win by bringing Chris Cook to drive the Nova and put the car back on the podium. Marcum invited Felton, who was able to come. They saw an exciting race, with Cook and Richard Howe in his 1989 Ford Mustang Trans-Am battling for the lead all race long. On the last lap, Cook was able to out brake Howe going into turn 10 and win by half a second. It was an emotional victory circle.
The harsh side of racing also showed its face at the 2016 HSR Mitty Speedfest. The beautiful 1965 Cheetah driven by Jay Stephenson crashed. Stephenson got caught out on the track when it started raining, and crashed coming out of turn five. According to Stephenson’s son Spike, Jay suffered a broken ankle and will be fine. The Shadow DN4 that Craig Bennett was driving crashed hard into turn 12, and Bennett sustained serious injuries. The family is using the UOP Shadow Facebook page to keep friends and fans informed of his progress. Sports Car Digest’s thoughts are with Craig and his family, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
Similar to 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2016 Mitty Speedfest, with photographer David Ferguson offering the following pictures from Road Atlanta. We split up pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest, while the second gallery and race results can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.
HSR Mitty Speedfest 2016 – Featured Photo Gallery
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