Simon Tibbett: 2019 The Mitty Recap

Simon Tibbett: 2019 The Mitty Recap

Simon Tibbett

The Mitty has been a fan favorite at Road Atlanta for forty-two years now and only continues to grow. For myself, it is always an exciting weekend of sprint racing which differs from our usual endurance racing events. It’s fun to just hop in the car and push hard without longevity in mind. The Mitty is also special to me as it marks one of the first races I ever went to as a kid. For those unfamiliar with The Mitty, it’s actually a vintage racing event where cars from throughout history race like they did in their glory days. While our Mazdas aren’t vintage, the series will allow newer cars to run on a case by case basis and we were sure to put on a show.

Friday would kick our weekend off with two qualifying sessions and race at the end of the day. The Mitty is always a very large showing so the further ahead you can qualify the better off you will be. The cars are placed in groups based primarily on weight, power, and type of vehicle (i.e. no formula cars with GT cars). The driving talent ranges from seasoned pros to drivers racing as in vintage events as a hobby.

Qualifying went well but it was very hard to get a good lap in. The issue with a lot of these older cars is they have massive amounts of power but then the older suspension technology and brakes tend to not perform as well. That, and as mentioned, the driving talent ranges greatly. We tend to catch some very fast cars very quickly in corners only to be left down the straightaways. So, getting a good lap means you either run with someone who’s a similar pace or you get a clear track, which is very hard to do when there’s fifty plus cars in one group.

Friday’s race was called the Sasco International American Challenge and both myself and my teammate who was in the team’s other Mazda for the weekend qualified well above mid-pack. We took the green flag and immediately got bottle necked into turn one which let quite a few cars slip by me as I lost all momentum.

I ended up finding gaps in traffic enough to hold off my teammate but could not catch the class leading car which was a newer BMW Z3 Coupe with an engine from the M Coupe model. In other terms it had a good 60+ more horsepower than we did! I took second in class with teammate Adam Diamond in a close third. We did manage to take a top ten overall though which is quite impressive given some of the machinery that was on track.

Saturday rolled around with beautiful weather and we would be up first for qualifying. The cool air and clean track meant the perfect time to throw down a good qualifying lap. We both took to the track at the same time to draft each other if possible but traffic split us up a little. I was above to build a gap and turned my fastest lap of the weekend, over a second faster than my previous qualifying time! This put me second in class for the two upcoming WeatherTech Series Sprint races.

The first of the WeatherTech races came later in the afternoon and I wasn’t very happy with the start but made up some ground quickly. Adam was in close toe behind the entire race and I caught an older BMW which really held us up. We were three seconds per lap slower than in qualifying! I’d catch him in the corners and have to slow up only for him to blast off on the long back straight. On the last lap the BMW made an even slower exit out of turn five and I had to brake to avoid running into the back of him which gave Adam a great run into turn six where he was easily able to pass. We finished second and third in class.

The final race of the weekend was Sunday afternoon and I was motivated to not be held up again. We took the green flag and I got a good start as did Adam who was starting right next to me. Heading up the hill was a traffic jam and I was able to keep momentum around the outside although it did mean I dropped wheels into the dirt. No harm to foul though and we continued our chase.

The race ended up being a back and forth battle between Adam and I which was a blast. It all boiled down to the final lap too. He got a good run onto the back straight where we drag raced the whole way down into the heavy braking zone in turn ten. He was able to out brake me a little so to get a good launch I let him through to follow in behind for a good run down the hill in turns eleven and twelve. We crested the hill side by side and I was able to pull ahead just at the line to take home second in class. It wasn’t a win (the BMW was un-catchable) but it was an absolute blast and judging by the reaction of the crowd they enjoyed the show as well. 

Overall it was a good weekend for the team and for all of my partners as we were able to reach a lot of people throughout the weekend which I hope will amount to sales! We have a quick turnaround and will be racing in Daytona May 11 for the second round of the World Racing League SE Championship.