Massive Mustang Exhibition Race Rolls into Vegas
Mountains in the distance, palm trees hither and yon, a magnificent horizon broken only by the advents of man–all very well fit to ponder here in Big Sky Country. In this instance, it was but a backdrop. The roar of American iron needs no accompaniment, but when others heed the call, it is a mighty chorus.
This was racing in its purest form. A race run merely for the sake of it. Three days of open track opportunity culminated in this point, where vintage Shelbys would run alongside Trans Am legends and modern muscle for the checkered flag. No trophies, no timed laps, no crowds to cheer them on. Just men and women born to race, who traveled hundreds of miles to do so, and are finally about to do it here, at the zMax Proving Ground in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway compound. Nothing couuld be more pure than that. And, nothing certainly was more pure in Sin City on this day.
An exhibition race among driving instructors, the display of their expertise garnered interest from their fellow racers. And, though they’d been at the track all day, every day, for three days, an eagerness to see who would be champion overtook them.
In such a race, when the cars are valued at well over the six-figure mark, racers are often restricted in an effort to preserve their cars. In that regard, today would be no different; there would be no trading paint. However, passing was allowed, and, with cars exceeding 120 mph in the straights, this certainly added to onlookers’ enthusiasm.
The cars seemingly lined up in random order as each driver responded to the announcement. Perhaps it was Freudian, but ultimately they were stacked in order of value, with a genuine ’66 Shelby GT350 and a ’68 Trans Am Mustang GT–each with proven racing heritage–leading the charge.
Even though they couldn’t truly overtake in the corners, because contact means you will not be invited back for 13 months, the straightaways saw some fierce competition from each contender. Lap times averaged at the two-minute mark.
The best show by far was the fight for first by friends and friendly rivals, Mike Eisenberg of MAECO Motorsport in the Wimbledon White vintage Shelby GT350 and James J. Bittle of JBA Racing in the silvery grey ’68 Mustang GT, also known as the Silver Mink. For five laps, they doggedly jockeyed for the win, swapping the lead after almost every hairpin. Just when it seemed one could predict the outcome, the other car would be out in front.
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