Events like this draw all sorts of fans of vintage racing to try and strut their stuff—albeit quite safely—at a calm, careful, and composed pace with no damage and plenty of polite banter afterwards. Jody O’Donnell didn’t get the memo.
His display of confidence in this 427-powered monster of a Corvette is stunning. Most racing drivers, with years of experience, would still likely keep their hands firmly gripped on the Chevy’s steering wheel, but O’Donnell casually one-hands it while correcting oversteer through most corners. It’s not the most precise way of going racing, but it’s clear by his body language that he’s not intimidated—or fatigued—by the this dinosaur and its lack of power steering.
That’s meant in the the most complimentary way possible: this C3 Corvette is a tyrannosaurus. It’s wild, unruly, and extremely loud—plus it’s able to blitz past IROC Porsche 911s and Mustangs without breaking a sweat. It’s crude and rude, and completely ferocious at high speed; the 800-odd ponies available can spin tires through Turn 12! Pull that move with a novice in the passenger seat and you might have to pit so they can grab another pair of skivvies.
With plenty of experience countersteering these kinds of muscle cars on the road course—O’Donnell has raced in Trans-Am and won vintage events like this—O’Donnell had pole position in his pocket by over a second. Hopped up on adrenaline, he continued his charge for the sheer thrill of it, dropped the anchors, flat-spotted his tires, and took a ceremonial trip into the gravel trap. There are more conventional ways to celebrate a successful qualifying session, but champagne doesn’t quite match the thrill of backing a pricey ‘Vette into a sand trap. Thankfully, the race went a little more smoothly.
O’Donnell is made of stronger stuff.
The Bob Woodman International Challenge, better known as “The Mitty,” celebrates classic racing cars of all guises; drawing somewhere between 250 and 400 competitors. The celebrated marque here is undoubtedly Porsche, though the variety of cars—from classic MGA to Audi R8s, mean vintage racers of any brand are welcome. Generally speaking, it’s a lighthearted event that is meant to bring fans of classic motorsports together. Some still take it quite seriously, though.
O’Donnell was happy to show how his Corvette was was the best of them all—in fact, he would go on to win the event’s opening race. Though he was outgunned at the start by Todd Treffert in his ’74 IROC Porsche, O’Donnell would use his superior firepower to haul past on Road Atlanta’s long straights. The 7.2-liter motor sitting underneath the bulging hood is built by Steve Allen Racing Engines, and it isn’t so much an engine as it is a medium-sized bomb which just happens to explode in a controlled fashion. As he depresses the loud pedal and manages the inevitable wheelspin, the world just seems to turn backwards with no indication of stopping. Engines like that should power naval ships, not cars.