P4-2021-12 – The Inaugural American Speed Festival at M1 Concourse
Article by Bill Molzon
Google defines Festival as a “gathering of people to celebrate something,” such as heritage, culture and traditions, AND states that “attending a Festival with your best friends means having GREAT experiences that you’ll be talking about for years to come”.
The American Speed Festival certainly fits that definition, providing the opportunity to see over 100 race cars (ranging from the 1901 Henry Ford Racer to current super cars like the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren Senna) in both static and dynamic displays. The dynamic demonstrations allowed you to see and hear the cars performing at speed on the M1 track and experience the sounds and excitement of their performance capabilities.
There was something for everyone in the range of vehicles presented, including four of the most historically significant cars designed, constructed and raced by the featured Marque, Chaparral. Each represented a significant milestone in the evolution of racecar aerodynamics from the inventive mind of Designer, Constructor, and Racer Jim Hall. The 2E and 2F introduced the use of wings to racing in the late 60’s, and was followed in 1979 by the 2K IndyCar, also known as the Yellow Submarine, which was created by legendary F1 designer, John Barnard. It incorporated full-length underbody tunnels to the rear wing to provide downforce along with many other outstanding design detail innovations such as the structural execution of the rear wing sub frame. In all, sixteen IndyCars were included among the entries, ranging from a front engine 1952 Kurtis roadster to the Unser 1986 Lola. In addition Can Am cars, stock cars, super cars, performance cars (American, European and Asian), endurance racing cars, and a significant number of other featured cars were included among the show entries. Another of the historically significant featured cars was the original 1953 Duntov Corvette mule, which was built to test a V8 engine in a Corvette that began the evolutionary process that led to the Corvette as we know it today.
Southeast Michigan Porsche Club of America members, the only car club with a dedicated car corral at the show, also enjoyed the opportunity to experience the sounds of the Porsche 917-30 in action on the track, something few of us have been able to experience in person. They watched their fellow member, John Dorscht, participate in the event with this Porsche GT1 replica. SEM members were also excited to see one of our Club sponsors, David Nikolas of Nikolas Motorsports, putting on an exhibition of his driving skill and speed in his March 817 Can Am, the Budweiser Paul Newman car. In the Solo class, Jonathan Finstrom, another of the local M1 garage residents, impressed everyone with his Staudacher’s speed and handling. That, combined with his outstanding driving skills, allowed him to unofficially turn in one of the fastest laps at the event. In addition he recently set the outright lap records at M1, Waterford, Grattan and Gingerman! Quite an accomplishment for a car that tips the scales at 1000 pounds including the driver!
One of my personal highlights of the event was having the distinct privilege of experiencing the M1 course in the rain on a Sunday morning thrill ride with my son Marc driving! That, along with all of the other experiences of the show, I WILL be talking about for years to come!