The 40th anniversary of "The Mitty" was a success. Friday morning was our first practice session and the goal was to just get a feel for the car since I had never driven it. Things went well and the car seemed good, I was within a few seconds of the Mazda3 I ran a few years back in the first session so that was a good start. The second practice was the same thing but with so much traffic (over 40 cars) it was hard to get a clean lap so I worked on just running wheel to wheel with some of the other drivers.
Friday afternoon was the first race of the weekend called the Bob Woodman Tire International American Challenge. It puts American cars versus foreign cars over a certain engine size head to head. It’s a huge “free” race with cars from two groups, so it’s a ton of cars, I think seventy or so. It was a good time, there’s a lot of horsepower in that race so I didn’t have a chance but I had fun running with some classic BMWs and we swapped positions a few times.
Saturday was exciting because we qualified nice and early when things would be cool. The car generally felt more powerful in cooler air as many cars do. So my goal was to run a 1:49 as my last Mazda3 race car I ran a 1:49 but on brand new tires, these were used. I tried, got clean laps, and on the final lap ran a 1:50.4! There wasn’t much left in it but that was good enough, it wasn’t too far off.
The race Saturday came and tension rose as it always does before a race. The excitement built. The pace lap started and as we got to the final turn to take the green flag, boom, the engine started misfiring and I had to watch cars blow by me and try to avoid any contact. I drove it all the way back to the pits, the culprit was a wire on one of the coil plugs simply snapped off. Nobody could have seen it beforehand, just pure bad luck.
The car was fixed for Sunday and I was excited because it was very wet. A lot of people had left as some of those guys are scared to risk crashing their older cars but enough stuck around. They decided to combine Group 2 and 3 since the fields were smaller. I started further back as you start based on your finishing position from Saturday. Immediately at the start I started picking people off one by one. In a front wheel drive car, you tend to have more grip available in the wet. That mixed with lower horsepower than a lot of the other cars and softer suspension helped in those conditions. In the end, I finished first in my class, second overall in Group 2, and fourth overall out of the entire combined field. It was an honor to get a real Mitty trophy and be among those cars in victory lane, even if I was driving a four door economy car.
Overall the weekend was a big success. I want to also mention Lemons of Love as I promoted this wonderful charity all weekend long. They make care packages for those receiving chemo. They are full of goodies that can help some of the side effects of chemo and also offer some smiles. When my mom was living at a hospital in Atlanta after a marrow transplant, we spent Christmas in her hospital room. That morning a generous woman came in and was giving those staying there a small gift bag as she had been there years prior and wanted to let people know they weren't alone. I thought that was awesome and Lemons of Love is on that same type of platform which is giving directly to those fighting cancer. If you missed me at The Mitty, checkout their website for more information, make a donation, or buy a package for someone you love.
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