The Savannah Speed Classic 2014 was held October 24-26 on the 1.96 mile, 10-turn Grand Prize of America / Savannah Harbour Race Course on Hutchinson Island in Savannah, Georgia. Sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR), the races were the first part of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival, the second part being the more sedate Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance.
The Grand Prize of America race track winds through the lush Hutchinson Island directly across the river from historic River Street in Savannah, Georgia. HSR attracted a field of over 140 racers in cars spanning almost 100 years of motor sports.
The track was built in the late 1990s to hold sanctioned Indy Lights racing but only managed one such event. The track is quite bumpy in parts but fairly wide, providing good racing and several opportunities for passing. Drivers must stay sharp though as several turns involve looming concrete walls on the exit. The track also features several banked turns, allowing spectators to experience some impressive cornering displays at speeds higher than the norm.
The 2014 running of the Savannah Speed Classic saw spectacular Georgia fall weather, with cool, dewy mornings giving way to warm, dry sunshine all three days. The venue played its part with its manicured green infield area at turns two and three providing a terrific view of the track action, gourmet food, motor sports memorabilia and the chance to get up close to the newest products from Porsche and BMW.
As is the norm at these gatherings, the atmosphere was decidedly more relaxed than professional races and the fans could walk the paddock, mingle with crews and drivers, breathe the heady mixture of hot oil and racing fuel, ask questions and snap photos to their heart’s content. One of the off-track highlights on Friday was the evening cocktail at the Westin Savannah Harbor. Attendees enjoyed poolside refreshments and were treated to a humorous panel discussion with racing greats Hurley Haywood, Brian Redman and Bobby Rahal.
For the drivers, things kicked off Friday morning with tech inspections and the first of several group qualifying sessions. Friday’s track action finished with the first race of the weekend, the Hawk Performance H/P Enduro. Qualifying continued Saturday morning and the serious racing got underway after lunch.
Groups Two and Three saw the largest grids with over 45 cars taking the green flag. Lots of close racing action with American, Italian, English, Japanese and German marques from 1949 to 2002 mixing it up. The top three spots were grabbed by the faster Group Three cars but the Group Two class winners did well to come in ahead of numerous Group Two cars.
A crowd favorite, Group Five brought out the big-bore historic sports cars. Lots of cylinders, lots of noise and lots of speed from the Corvettes, Mustang Cobras, BMW CSLs and Porsches. The crowd was treated to Motorsports Hall of Famer Brian Redman looking oh-so-smooth on his way to 3rd in his Chevron B16.
The Pre-War race on Sunday was a survivor’s affair after several qualifying sessions consumed much vintage machinery. Just four cars from the original eight entries made the grid and hung on to see the checkered flag. The relative youth of the #284 1953 MG TD driven by Steve Konsin saw it through to the top step. Style highlight of the class goes to Miles Whitlock sawing the huge wheel in his Ford while chomping on an equally huge cigar.
Photographer Peter Falkner documented the Savannah Speed Classic 2014, offering the following images from the first leg of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival. We split up Peter’s photos 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 can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.
Savannah Speed Classic 2014 – Featured Photo Gallery
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