With six cars in the Outlaw Vintage group at Carolina Motorsports Park, it was shaping up to be an exciting weekend. Fred Benedict had his 914’s front splitter repaired from the previous event at Roebling Road and he was eager, and ready for a rematch against Matt Isbell’s 240Z. Fred Crawford made his series return with his Porsche 914 to make it a three-car shootout in V1.
In V2, we had Gordon Slingerland’s 1968 Pontiac Firebird, Marty Howard’s Factory Five Cobra and Lars Lattstrom’s Cobra. With all six Vintage cars on grid, it brought back memories of days gone by, but all six drivers were prepared to race and race hard, not run parade laps.
At the drop of the green flag for Saturday’s race, Matt Isbell and Fred Benedict pulled away from the field from P1 and P2. Racing hard, they swapped the lead back and forth several times in the first couple of laps. It was the rematch we all hoped it would be, but on lap four going into Turn 12, Isbell turned the wheel and his car went straight off the track and into the grass. He was able to get back to the pits without further damage, but a tie rod bolt had sheared off, causing his off track excursion.
This left Benedict with a lead he never relinquished, with Crawford mired back in traffic. And even though Crawford is in V1, Gordon Slingerland saw this as an opportunity. With Lattstrom plastered all over his rear bumper, Crawford became the rabbit for Slingerland to chase.
Lattstrom gave Slingerland no breathing room over the next several laps, and with him trying to hold off Lattstrom, he was unable to close the gap on Crawford until a full-course caution bunched up the field. Lattstrom set his sights on taking the V2 lead on the restart while Slingerland was determined to keep it.
However, during the restart, the cars got stacked up going into Turn 14, and several Thunder Roadsters tried to dive in where there wasn’t enough room. One slammed into Slingerland, knocking him off the track and out of the race with front end damage. This left Lattstrom with the V2 lead and win because Howard was too far back to be a factor at the end. Benedict was far enough in front of Crawford that he was able to hold off the rest of the Thunder field to not only take the V1 win, but win Thunder overall.
The Vintage cars are proving they can race and win against most any other cars on the track. With the liberal and open build rules within Outlaw Vintage, they are able to equalize the technology gap with talent and ingenuity to win against cars 30 and 40 years newer.