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Nissan joins the ultimate motorsports circus: The 2018 HSR Classic Motorsports Mitty

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John Morton on track in a 1970 Datsun 240Z built to include surviving parts from the original BRE race car. Photos by Dr. Chris Brewer.

[Editor’s note: This piece comes to us from Dr. Chris Brewer, director of public relations for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and regular Hemmings contributor.]

The sun was setting, providing a soft warm glow over the Road Atlanta main paddock in Braselton, Georgia. The 2.54-mile road course was now quiet as remaining teams prepared for the journey home after a weekend affectionately dubbed the “ultimate motorsports circus.” Just an hour earlier, the 12-turn circuit was filled with the deafening sound of prototype racing as Mirco Schultis drove a yellow-and-white 2009 Oreca FLM-09 to take the WeatherTech Sprint Race 2 Group 6 victory, the final race of the weekend.

Mirco Schultis takes the 2009 Oreca FLM-09 to victory in the final race of the weekend.

Held April 27-29, the Mitty is a combination of three days of Historic Sports Car Racing (HSR) and an event-packed Speedfest hosted by Classic Motorsports and presented by Hagerty. The schedule is relentless in the best possible way. Two road tours guide spectators to the track. The Coker Tire Road Tour stages at Coker’s headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the One Porsche Drive Tour kicks off at the Porsche Experience Center Atlanta.

The 1966 BMW 2000CS of Damon DeSantis battles with the 1965 Porsche 911 of Tom Brabue and Roy Sanders.


Group 3A cars prepare to race.


Group 3B, lead by the Nissan 370Z pace car.

At Road Atlanta, HSR qualifying starts at 8 a.m. on Friday with groups running 20-minute sessions roughly five minutes apart. At 4:40 p.m., the Sasco Sports International/American Challenge runs followed by the B.R.M. GTC Enduro Challenge one-hour race, completing the competitive portion of the day. The Speedfest opens at 8:30 a.m., featuring vendors, ride and drives, car corrals, relaxed parade, and spirited touring laps of the road course.

The 1965 Ford Mustang of Steven Piantieri leads a 1975 Porsche 911 driven by John Larimer.


Nathan Thompson races a 1966 Brabham BT21b during qualifying.


1964 Chevrolet Corvette, driven by Tom Cotter.


A Group 6 1985 Porsche 962 takes a breather in the paddock.

Saturday’s schedule includes final qualifying sessions in the morning and racing in the afternoon. The Speedfest opens again at 8:30 a.m. and doesn’t slow down until guests leave the closing party at 11 p.m. Sunday’s highlights include a full day of HSR racing on the track and a “Concours d’Lemons” in the fan zone. Visitors can test out their vehicle’s traction at the skidpad challenge located on the infield of turn 7.

Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL.


Cars at One Porsche Drive Road Tour.


A mid-90’s Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon works the skidpad.


A Datsun 280Z hides out in the infield camping area.

Nissan was the featured marque for the 41st HSR Classic Motorsports Mitty, and the response was overwhelming. The sea of spectator vehicles, combined with the 50 race cars, produced one of the largest gatherings of vintage Datsun and Nissan vehicles ever assembled in the United States. Race entrants included the feature event-winning, right-hand drive 1971 Hakosuka Skyline GT-4 C10 of Alex McDowell, and comedian Adam Carolla’s 1973 Bob Sharp 610. Datsun/Nissan racing legend John Morton served as the 2018 Grand Marshall and drove a 1970 Datsun 240Z built with numerous surviving parts from the original BRE race car in Group 3A.

The 1971 Nissan Skyline C10 of Alex McDowell and Brendan Hermalyn wins the Nissan Feature race.


Comedian Adam Carolla drives the Bob Sharp 1973 Datsun 610.


2018 Honored Guest John Morton.

Sunshine and relatively cool spring temperatures provided an ideal climate for a weekend-long celebration of the automobile. The comfortable environment made Road Atlanta’s infield overnight camping an excellent option for those seeking an entirely immersive experience. Being able to drive into the storied road course and disconnect from the outside world for a day or two while enjoying the sights and sounds of vintage race cars being pushed close to their limits is energizing and refreshing.

Lawrence Cooper dominated Group 3A winning both WeatherTech Sprint races with a 1971 Datsun 240Z.


The 1961 Jaguar XKE of Donald Norby took second place in Sunday’s Group 3B WeatherTech Sprint Race.