Well, the 2018 Classic Motorsports The Mitty is now past and won’t be remembered as one of the best weekends for us. Things started off Friday for us with practice and qualifying sessions. I was driving the new to Casey Carden Motorsports #213 Mazda MX-5. The first was cut very short with only one or two laps before the black flag came out for oil on the race track. The second session ended short as well as we needed to make some adjustments to the car so we ended the day with a 1:47 lap time and planned to do an alignment overnight that would fit the car better.
Saturday came and our final qualifying session was early in the morning. The car was amazing, amazing enough that my final lap I had a clean track and got the “push-push-push” radio call from the car owner which is what I love to hear. I could turn a 1:43 without a draft, so quite the improvement over Friday’s time and good enough for third in class with quite a bit still left in the car and myself.
The first race was the Sasco Sports International American Challenge and was about eighty cars large. As the green flag flew there was immediately a wreck at the front of the field under the start stand and that brought out the black flag. After sitting on the grid waiting for them to clean the crash up they decided to postpone it until later in the day. So that was a real bummer to have your adrenaline go up and then have to go wait longer.
The first WeatherTech Sprint Series race of the weekend was next and we were in a good spot to potentially podium both cars. I was third in class and my teammate Adam Diamond a few cars back. Our plan was to have him get to me and help push us up to the front and then we could race it out at the end. Bump drafting or having a draft partner in an MX-5 is key so we needed to work together to move up.
The green flag flew and my start was slightly butchered by a few cars braking at the last second. The good news was I didn’t lose much and Adam made quick time and was behind me by turn three so our plan was coming together perfectly.
Things were tight through the esses but I had a good run by the time we got out of turn 7, there was a Mini who had us on straight line speed but we were quicker in the turns. He made a mis-shift or something and I could sneak by. Halfway down the straight he started catching back up on my right so I left space and saw the VW Rabbit of the Baltic brothers coming even faster on my left which I knew I couldn’t do much with him.
We were about three wide starting to enter turn 9, I knew the Mini was close to me, then I heard a small noise and then had a huge impact from the side and I was facing backwards. The force to turn a car moving straight at 120mph backwards is quite large. I could just see tire smoke from my tires, then dirt as I went to the wall on the left. At that point I saw the Volkswagen tumbling in the air above me, I felt some more impacts, I let go of the wheel and held my hands against my helmet. I was not sure what impact was coming next or how big so at that point you sort of sit and wait for the next one and hope it’s over soon. When the car straightened out my brakes were to the floor so it didn’t stop well and I saw the VW in my mirror tumble a couple of more times. I was on the radio to my car owner before the car was even stopped explaining there was a huge crash and that I was involved. My teammate was behind me and saw it all so was already telling the car owner freaking out fearing people were hurt.
I sat for a second but thought my wife and friends were in turn ten where they would have seen that so wanted to get out quickly so they saw I was ok. I climbed out not sure what damage I’d see to the car, surprisingly just cosmetic stuff. I was covered in dirt and fearing the absolute worst looking up the hill at the VW which was unrecognizable. I just sort of stood there still questioning what happened because I had no clue.
I was forced to go to medical to get looked at and when I walked in the VW driver was sitting there alert, sitting up, and talking. I walked to him first, he was dazed, his brother there very upset, it was a pretty dramatic crash. I was checked over and released. The only issues I had was a bad headache, soreness, and a few bruises from the seat probably.
I was back at the track Sunday to cheer on my teammates and promote my partners as well as I could. By Sunday I was just a little sore though the morning started off feeling rough. Overall though by Monday morning I felt fine.
So, the weekend was not a highlight for myself but the team did manage a string of podiums so not all was a failure. Luckily my car is repairable, albeit a decent crash bill. I’ll be back behind the wheel in a month at Daytona International Speedway with the World Racing League.