A second day of near-perfect weather provided the ideal setting for close and competitive racing Friday and Saturday at Historic Sportscar Racing’s Fall Historics weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Clear and sunny skies returned to Road Atlanta for the second-straight day, though Friday’s cooler temperatures gave way to Saturday’s higher thermometer readings in the 80s and even hotter competition on the 2.54-mile Georgia road course.
Saturday’s featured Can-Am Mini Challenge Ed Spreen Cup race lived up to its pre-race hype with a thrilling finish that wasn’t decided until the last lap. Three different drivers stepped up to lead at least once in the final lap-and-a-half of the sprint race, with Greg Wold prevailing for the victory in his 1964 No. 88 Morris Cooper S.
Both Wold and eventual second-place finisher Evan Gaston, in his 1964 No. 44 Austin Mini GT5, trailed race leader Andrew Nelson with less than two laps to go. After getting past Nelson’s 1965 No. 11 Fortech Mini just before the white flag, Gaston made a move on Wold to take the lead on the final race lap, setting the pass up in the uphill run out of Turn 1 and into Road Atlanta’s fast esses section.
A bobble by Gaston later in the lap put Wold back up front for the second and final time and he crossed the finish line for a 2.468 second margin of victory.
Third place fittingly went to the Team Spreen Racing 1966 No. 12 Austin Cooper of Chris Kearney who took advantage of a last-lap issue for Nelson to steal the final podium spot. Kearney drove the same TSR Mini that Spreen himself drove to the C Sedan National Championship in the SCCA Runoffs at Road Atlanta in 1970.
Another Saturday showcase race was the one-hour B.R.M. Chronographes Endurance Challenge race for Historic, Prototype and GT Modern (GTM) competitors where the battle was for overall and Prototype top-three honors between a trio of familiar teams and drivers that have all raced and won in HSR competition.
The victory was secured by the Matador Motorsports ex-ESM Tequila Patron 2016 No. 22 Ligier Nissan OR05 of Pierce Marshall and Eric Foss who won a B.R.M. race at Michelin Raceway for the third time since 2020.
Second place went to the Olthoff Racing 2007 No. 25 Oreca FLM09 co-driven by Larry Huang and John Edwards while Travis Engen solo drove to third in his equally ageless GMT Racing 2005 No. 2 Audi R8 LMP.
Alejandro Pimentel scored the B.R.M. GTM win in his 2018 No. 57 Porsche 991 GT3 but a pair of quick Porsche Cayman GT4 competitors kept the pressure on to the finish.
Second place in GTM went to brothers Paul Denton and Steve Denton in their 2016 No. 540 Porsche Cayman GT4 prepared by Denton Carden Racing. Drew Ewing and Chris Ferraro completed the all-Porsche GTM podium in third in their Fandango Racing 2016 No. 13 Porsche Cayman GT4.
Saturday’s additional race winners included Kenneth Greenberg, who took the B.R.M. Historic class victory in his 1996 No. 836 Porsche 993 RSR prepared by Air Power Racing, and HSR Classic RS Cup winner Mike Banz in his Heritage Motorsports 1974 No. 13 Porsche 911 RSR.
Near-perfect weather and a pair of weekend-opening races that could be described the same way got the HSR Fall Historics off to a fantastic start on Friday. The Sasco Sports International/American Challenge and Stoner Car Care Global GT sprint races combined to crown the weekend’s first four race winners ahead of two more days of on track competition Saturday and Sunday.
The Sasco Sports overall and Porsche class victory was secured by longtime HSR competitor Jack Lewis in his pristine Jack Lewis Enterprises 1974 No. 9 Porsche 911 RSR.
Friday’s other overall winner was local resident and Team Corvette racing legend Johnny O’Connell, driving his ex-GT World Challenge 2011 No. 3 Cadillac CTS/VR. O’Connell held off a field of competitive Porsches to win the Stoner Car Care Global GT race in the Bill Heifner-owned Cadillac “Johnny O” drove in its competition prime.
In the Sasco Sports race, Lewis was chased to the finish line by another HSR stalwart, Mike Banz, who took the checkered flag just three seconds back for second place in his Heritage Motorsports 1974 No. 13 Porsche 911 RSR.
Lewis and Banz were joined on the overall Sasco Sports podium by American division winner Jeff McKee in his popular 1964 No. 51 Ford Falcon prepared by Olthoff Racing.
Fourth overall went to International-class winner Joey Bojalad in his unique 1967 No. 12 Ginetta G12. Only 29 of the mid-engine Ginettas were produced, and Bojalad prepares and tunes his car – which is chassis No. 15 – with only his teammate Joe Serbin.
The overall top five and second in American went to Steve Cullman in his 1970 No. 74 Ford Mustang Boss 302, giving Olthoff Racing and Ford a sweep of the top-two American division finishing positions
The Porsche podium was completed by Colin Dougherty in his 1988 No. 86 Porsche Turbo Cup series car prepared by DAS Sport that also finished an impressive sixth overall.
Other Sasco Sports podium players included Amber Stephenson, Steve Piantieri and Craig Joslin.
Stephenson secured second in International and eighth overall in the 2Girls Racing 1963 No. 52 Lotus Super 7.
Piantieri also cracked the overall top-10 in ninth which also locked down third place in the American class in his 1965 No. 95 Ford Mustang 2+2. Piantieri, the 2021 HSR Driver of the Year, is another always-fast HSR competitor that tunes and prepares his car with only the help of one or two hard-working teammates.
Joslin rounded out the International podium with a solid third-place finish in his 1983 No. 09 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI.
In Stoner Car Care Global GT, O’Connell held the lead from the pole for a flag-to-flag win ahead of the 2015 No. 96 Porsche 991 GT3 of Ben Johnston and third-place finisher Ryan Harrold in his Team Mean 2011 No. 110 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car.
* The Ed Spreen Cup memorial race pays tribute to its namesake who was a pioneering and legendary figure in the North American Mini racing community. The Mini that Kearney drove to the third place showing Saturday was the same car that Spreen, who passed away in 2010, purchased from England in 1967 and brought to the U.S. The car was built for competition from a brand-new Austin Cooper S in 1966 and has been run exclusively as a race car for more than 55 years. A highlight victory was Spreen’s 1970 Runoffs triumph that organizers of the popular Can-Am Mini Challenge race planned to commemorate with the Ed Spreen Cup tribute race on the 50th anniversary of the victory in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed those plans until this weekend, which also includes the final Can-Am Mini Challenge sprint to bring the curtain down on this year’s HSR Fall Historics on Sunday.
* Foss and Edwards are not the only two professional driver/coaches competing this weekend in the HSR Fall Historics. Local resident and Corvette Racing legend Johnny O’Connell went two-for-two on the weekend so far guest driving the Bill Heifner-owned ex-GT World Challenge 2011 No. 3 Cadillac CTS/VR. O’Connell backed up his win in Friday’s Stoner Car Care Global GT race with a WeatherTech Sprint race victory today in the No. 3 Cadillac he raced in its competition prime. Recently crowned Pirelli GT4 America co-Champion Eric Filgueiras is also in action this weekend co-driving with Angus Russell in his Amalfi Racing-prepared 2016 No. 15 Ligier JS/P3 LMP3 car.
Sunday’s HSR Fall Historics action got off to an early start with the one-hour B.R.M. Chronographes Endurance Challenge race for the Vintage and GT Classic (GTC) classes at 8:10 a.m. EDT. Sunday also features the second and final WeatherTech Sprint races for all Run Groups and concludes with the final Can-Am Mini Challenge race at 2:35 p.m. EDT.