After 14 hours in the car, we arrived at Road Atlanta. The red Clay of Georgia was once again caressing my boots. This storied track is often known for the ALMS, the IMSA, and other professional series, but The Mitty is special.
Organized and sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing, one the nation’s premier historic racing organizations, The Mitty is an annual event that still brings excitement, speed, and some of the world’s best historic race cars together.
The event began back in 1978, started by a handful of local racing enthusiasts looking for a safe venue to run their cars at race speeds. It took hold quickly, and the editor of the Jaguar Marque soon declared the festivities to be named The Great Walter Mitty Challenge, after the famous James Thurber short story. The Mitty was born.
How The Mitty Was Structured for 2022
Sports 2000 is The Mitty‘s featured marquee for the 44th running, with 55 cars in two run groups (S2A & S2B). Lola, Tiga, Swift (to name just a few) make up the grid.
Graced with clear skies and temps in the high 60s, I walked the paddock to see what was around. First stop was Sasco, to visit with David and Robyn Pass Handy. Not only do they supply tires for all the competitors, they also run Vintage Racers for Rescues—a rescue operation that has placed more than 1100 cats and dogs in new homes. These are wonderful people doing wonderful work.
The 44th HSR Mitty on-track schedule was packed with 10 feature races and non-stop sprint races. A tiny Vespa was parked next to a hauler, Porsches abounded, there was a sprinkling of Lolas, and the event also included the Bean Brothers with their awesome Chevrolet GTP Intrepid.
Race car run groups featured nearly every type of sports car from the past 70 years, plus stock cars and open-wheel Formula and Indy cars. I headed up to the Michelin tower to chat with the folks who handled timing and scores, then gathered the cameras and decided where to start: T1, before walking it out to T5.
Cars & Drivers at The Mitty in 2022
“A challenging track”, said Mitch Eitel, who turned a 1:33.711 practice lap in his 1975 Chevron B31. Other drivers called it “formidable”, while a few more proudly described it as “a piece of cake”. No records were broken, but everyone still seemed to have fun. A few black flags flew during practice, but by end of day we all had some celebrating to do.
My favorite in the Paddock was a 1968 Chevron B8; it’s only the second one I have seen in the states. A young mechanic with a distinct accent opened this striking dark blue car up for me to look over. Powered by a 2-liter BMW motor, this was one of the most beautiful race cars I’d ever seen. She looked fast and slick.
HSR was recently purchased by IMSA, and it looks like a good union. “When IMSA first approached me about their interest in being involved in the vintage and historic racing scene, I knew this could be the perfect opportunity for both HSR and IMSA,” said HSR President David Hinton. All things considered, it was a well run event—despite a few hiccups, the crowds did not stay away.
Above the paddock, local car clubs gathered at club corrals and a vendor row. Sonny’s BBQ looked to be the crowd favorite. Road Atlanta is a spectator track, with plenty of close-up views of the track, as well as ample camping nearby and other facilities.