Road America Vintage Weekend, Redman, Hobbs, Many Friends and a Big Beautiful Blue Truck

I knew this year’s vintage weekend at picturesque Road America was going to be a special. The Kohler International Challenge with Brian Redman and presented by Ford also featured the Mark Donohue Reunion and historic Can-Am cars. This weekend going to be one to remember, this was my first time to seeing all those Mark Donohue cars at one event. I was looking forward to it, because what a great time of the year to be at Road America, with usually lovely weather (Not counting those pesky storms that greeted fans Sunday morning and later that afternoon) and great Wisconsin bratwursts, this is the track to be at.

What’s great about this weekend is seeing all these cars in one spot and also to get see them on the track. Add legendary driver Brian Redman and you have a can’t miss event. Seeing Redman and another championship driver that drove these cars is a bonus, drivers like David Hobbs who really like coming to Road America, mingling with the fans. I chatted with David and getting his thoughts about Mark Donohue, that after 35 years he is still remembered and all he did for the sport. David said he brought a different approach to racing because of his engineering background it gave him an advantage to the other drivers. Add the team that Roger Penske assembled, they certainly had an “unfair advantage.” Paul Powell who organized the Donohue reunion did a great job bringing back many of the Penske team members such as Karl Kainhofer, John “Woody” Woodard, Jerry Kroninger and others.

Road America was a place where Mark had one of his famous victories. On August 26, 1973 in the SCCA Can-AM race he won both heat races and also set a new lap record during qualifying at 1:57.518. Donohue was the first driver to do a lap under two minutes and that record would stand till 1982. Donohue drove the legendary Porsche 917-30, as David Hobbs said back then we had more power then car and we really had a handful driving those cars back. I think that what really makes those drivers back then really drivers.

The other thing about Vintage weekends unlike race weekends these people are very friendly and they want to talk about the cars and remember the old days Just walking through the paddock you see a laid back atmosphere. That gives you chance to catch-up with friends like Donnie Hoevel who worked for Newman Haas for over 20 years. Donnie says he likes working in the vintage racing field because the stress level is lower, more laid back. Also was nice seeing Brad Kettler from Audi, fresh from his win at LeMans last month. Brad is now working with the privately owned Audi R8’s that are gasoline powered, but still a technological wonder. He faithfully maintains them and is very happy wrenching on them. Yet, he loved being an underdog at LeMans and winning. Plus, to finish 1-2-3 was sweet, but Audi stuck to a plan going into the race and it worked out for the best.

Also, another example of the people that were at Road America and active in vintage racing are my friends Rick and Jacques Dresang. They own a beautiful 1972 Indy Eagle-Offy that Donohue placed on the front row at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1973. They also acquired the 1972 International Fleetstar used by the Penske team via eBay, never realizing what they were getting into. As with most restorations, it ended up costing a bit more than originally estimated. However sitting with Rick and looking at it sitting on grass at the Osthoff resort Friday evening, it was very impressive. I think Roger Penske would have been proud of it. I asked Rick if he would do it all over again and he did not hesitate a second and said, “yes” he would do again. Shortly after I left Road America, the International Fleetstar won the Road&Track Best in Show for 2010. Congratulations to the Dresangs.

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