CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - American auto racing today is synonymous with cities such as Indianapolis and Daytona. But Savannah holds the title of the birthplace of Grand Prix racing in America.
So WTOC hit the pits of the seventh annual Savannah Speed Classic on Hutchinson Island, where the event is picking up speed and popularity.
Make no mistake, you don't have to be a motor head to enjoy any of the events of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d'Elegance. One of the two weekends is spent on Hilton Head, the other on Hutchinson Island for the Savannah Speed Classic
Your childhood Matchbox Cars sprint to life. A James Bond movie-looking car will invoke a trip down memory lane, and the engine's roar will get your heart pumping.
Phillip Kuhn, a GT1 car crew member, agrees, "It's a thrill. Everyone loves an adrenaline rush."
He says racing is gaining speed especially among the armchair enthusiasts.
"This weekend is actually the one of the best weekends I've seen here. It's been a couple of years since I've been here," said Kuhn.
Debbie Ragan lives in Savannah and has one word, "Fantastic!" She said, "We came last year and it was so much fun."
The Ragans returned this year on their scooters to get around the expansive stretch of displays and historic racing cars. There's also hot laps, where drivers will take you around hair-pin twists and turns of the track at impressive speeds.
Scooter, WTOC Jamie Ertle's driver, got up to 105 mph in less than a third of a mile in a factory model Mini Cooper. There's also professional drivers for an "as a real as you can get without driving yourself" experience.
One of those professional drivers is James Redman''s father. The younger Redman is the Historic Sports Car Racing General Manager and he smiles when talking about his dad.
"Forty years ago my father drove for BMW in the car he's doing hot laps in, he drove to victory in the Sebring 12 hour race," he said.
This type of event draws young and old, and puts the city in another category for reasons to visit.
"The track is great, it's pretty, the infield, the park like area is great for the spectators," said Redman.
Debbie says with all the bad news that's been happening in the city, she thinks revving the engines revs up Savannah's spirit.
"Things like this are great. Savannah deserves...happiness," she said.
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