Meet the race car drivers of the 2019 Savannah Speed Classic

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — This weekend in Savannah, it’s all about the cars.

Dozens of race car drivers revved up their engines and burned rubber as they hit the track on Friday for the first official day of the 2019 Savannah Speed Classic.

Racing cars of all varieties, from vintage to modern and expensive, lined up Friday morning for the qualifying laps around a nearly 2-mile-long track, held at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa on Hutchinson Island.

BMWs, Lotuses, Corvettes and more raced around the track at lightning speeds Friday. 

The unique event is part of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance and runs through Oct. 27. It allows racing enthusiasts the chance to exercise their need for speed while showing off their impressive toys.

Meet some of the drivers and learn about their racing experiences below.

Simon Gregg, 2010 C7 Corvette

“It weighs 2,800 pounds and has 850 horsepower NASCAR-style engine. It’s a five-speed racing transmission, it’s got big brakes and tires, and it’s about one of the fastest cars here this weekend.”

“I’ve been racing this style of car going on 20 years. This is a top club event, and I’m from Ponte Vedra, Florida, so I don’t like to miss this event, it’s a lot of fun, I love the hotels and restaurants and being on the river.”

“This is just practice, but I’m excited, I’m looking forward to the race and to have a good chance of getting the win.”

John Nash, 1962 Lotus Super Seven

“This was built back in the United Kingdom and brought over the States probably about three years ago.”

“I used to race back in the U.K. in the early 1970s. I haven’t raced until I came over here about 25 years ago, and we started racing again about three years ago.”

“The car runs in Group Three with the SVRA, the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association. We’re very pleased to be here in Savannah, it’s a very beautiful city.”

“The last time I was in Savannah was about 30 years ago, and it’s nice to be back.”

Charles Kates, 1968 Datsun 2000

“I’ve had this car for three years. I really like the car, but it’s more than I can handle. It’s got a roll cage in it that I have to use as a ladder to climb into the car, and I’m kind of getting tired of that.”

“It runs in Group Three with the SVRA. I’ve only been out four events this year. Last year, I ran eight events, and won the Points Championship with it. That’s by accumulating points in each race, not necessarily finishing first.”

“I had a Lotus Super Seven that I ran for seven years, and prior to that, I had a Triumph TR4 that I ran for six years. This is the end of my 18th year racing.”

Topher Lathrop, 1974 Mazda RX4

“When I grew up in Atlanta as a kid, my father liked going to Road Atlanta to watch the races, and then we got involved with the Sports Car Club of America.”

“I volunteered as a corner worker and did that for many years, then got to crew for somebody who was racing, and he gave me a free driver’s school in his car for crewing for him for a year. “

“The hook was set after that… I had to find a car, build it, and go race it. I was slow, then I slowly got better as I got the car better.”

“In 1991 and 1992, I won South Atlantic Road Racing Championship two years in a row. I was just hooked with it ever since,  love doing it.”

“It’s scary, it’s fun, your concentration has to be so high to do everything right every time and not make a mistake, because if you ruin your toy, you don’t get to play again.”

The big Savannah Speed Classic racing events are scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday.

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