Feel The Brutality of Vintage Racing In This '69 Corvette Onboard Film
No highfalutin tech here—just the driver, four speeds, and a 7.2 liter V8 at Road Atlanta.
For all the safety innovations of the last 50 years—fireproof racing suits, energy-absorbing barriers, boatloads of driver aides—racing will always be a dangerous game. Still, it's a lot different from the days when the cars that were little more than huge engines wrapped in flimsy metal shells and drivers took huge risks with each and every lap. Vintage racing series and events may be a dime a dozen, but it's a real treat to experience the sheer brute force on display in this onboard footage from a beastly 1969 Chevrolet Corvette going flat out at Road Atlanta yesterday.
It's the "2017 Classic Motorsports Mitty" this weekend at the Georgia track, an annual event held since 1978 to celebrate all manner of old-school machines with three days of vintage racing, car shows, and a festival atmosphere. Though Porsche is this year's "featured marque," photos from the track's Facebook page show that basically every major manufacturer is well-represented with a huge variety of entries spanning decades. Friday featured hours of qualifying sessions for the various classes, including one for "Big-Bore Historic Sports Cars" that featured Jody O'Donnell going balls to the wall in his modified 'Vette.
Aside from the glorious side pipes and absurdly-large hood bulge, the final clue that something sinister lurks between the front wheels is that the 1969 Corvette wasn't offered with a 7.2 liter V8, so that extra displacement had to come from somewhere. Details aside, it's mesmerizing to watch O'Donnell wrestle the wheel and keep the monster pointing straight as the back end threatens to kick out at every turn. Throw some headphones on for the full experience—the roar of that V8 on the long straight is both angelic and demonic all at once. Some may quibble with his occasional one-handed technique, but with no paddle shifters in sight it's a necessary skill to master.
He positively rips through the session, posting lap times that appear to be in the mid 1:30's which apparently were good enough to take the pole. Unfortunately, on his third lap he gets on the brakes too late at the end of the straight and spins out into the gravel on turn 10. He looks frustrated, but we think you'll agree his overall performance earned him some slack.