Birth of the Mitty


Written by The Staff of Motorsport Marketing


Story by John Webber

It all started in the late 1970s, when Steve Simpson was a member of the Atlanta Jaguar Club. “I had long been interested in racing,” Steve says, “and so I encouraged a bunch of our members to get together and put on an event at Road Atlanta where we would rent the track and have these speed trial runs, one car at a time.”

The first one was held in 1977, and these budding racers invited the Jag club and the Aston Martin club to help spread out the cost. The event was received with a lot of enthusiasm. Steve, of course, drove his Jaguar E-Type.

“We ran [the event] like that until about 1980 or ’81,” Steve recalls. “Sometimes we did what we thought were clever things. We thought the back straight would be intimidating, so we put in a cone chicane. Virtually every car that wrecked, wrecked there. It was a disaster.”

In about the third year of this event, Steve remembers, they started to notice a lot of neat old race cars being towed in on trailers. “Finally I got the bright idea that what we really needed to do was to focus on these historic race cars, not the street cars,” he explains. So they took the next step and established what was then called the Walter Mitty Challenge Vintage Racing Group.

“We started hosting historic sports car races, along with timed runs for street cars,” he recalls. “That was 1981. Then in ’82, we added a second event at Road Atlanta called the Atlanta Historic Races.”

In 1983, the group added a third race at Roebling Road in Savannah. “We continued on throughout the ’80s running three major events,” Steve says. By then, the Walter Mitty Challenge had grown into a huge event on the East Coast.

Steve continues, “In 1990, we hired a guy full-time to help us run [the group] and we re-christened it Historic Sportscar Racing, LTD.” Interest and participation increased. In 1991 the racing schedule grew to five events per year, and today HSR has nine events scheduled for 2017. In addition to the one at Road Atlanta that started it all, their current schedule hits other favorites like Sebring, Daytona, Virginia International Raceway, and even Quebec’s Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

This story ran in an old issue of Classic Motorsports. Want to make sure you’re reading all the latest stories? Subscribe now.

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Reader comments:

April 23, 2018 1:45 p.m.

The BMWCCA Peachtree Chapter was also involved in the early days.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
April 24, 2018 9:07 a.m.

I'm so twisted...... I look at the picture above and think------ sweet Mk1 Scirocco!   cheeky

Danny Shields
April 24, 2018 10:08 a.m.

In reply to Joe Gearin :

We get it. You are among friends here. That Scirocco probably racks up more miles and smiles than all those Ferraris put together.smiley

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
April 24, 2018 11:11 a.m.
Danny Shields said:

In reply to Joe Gearin :

We get it. You are among friends here. That Scirocco probably racks up more miles and smiles than all those Ferraris put together.smiley

Yeah, that's a later one too-- the kind I like, from 78-81.   I still miss the 81 I had.   Maybe it's time to find another!  

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