Record-setting lap: 1909 Stevens Duryea becomes oldest car to complete a lap at AMS
A rare, record-setting lap was recorded at the historic Atlanta Motor Speedway this afternoon, but it wasn't the typical high-speed feat one might expect at a facility where stock car racing's elite drivers approach the 200 mph mark at its annual NASCAR weekend.
Instead, adding to the 56-year-old track's lore was a century-old relic. A 1909 Stevens Duryea Torpedo Speedster, owned by Fayetteville's Drena Miller, became the oldest car ever to complete a lap on the 1.54-mile asphalt oval.
The vehicle is the oldest continually-driven car in Georgia, and it will be the centerpiece in the Million Dollar Salon at this weekend's Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama, which has become one of the Southeast's largest automotive festivals in just its third year.
Behind the wheel, owner Drena Miller turned a fast lap of just over two minutes and 26 seconds, topping out at 43 mph and officially inking herself into Atlanta Motor Speedway history. Flagging the lap was Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway president.
"Fun, really, really nice," Miller said of turning a lap in her 107-year old vehicle on the AMS racing surface. "(It's) different from touring with the car, but I loved it. I didn't have it at top speed, but I also didn't know - never having gone around the track before, what I could do to it. I could probably go another five miles per hour or so faster"
Originallly built in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts in the early 20th century, the vehicle has nearly all of its original mechanics still intact. Only minor upgrades to its tires, headlights, brakes and starter have been applied.
For perspective, 1909 was the year the first Lincoln penny was minted in Philadelphia. Miller has owned the vehicle for about 30 years and still drives it on a regular basis on the roads near Fayetteville and on various tours around the U.S. and abroad.
"Touring, you have to watch for pot holes and animals and other people and cars and this was just 'drive,' and it was fun," she added.
One of several automotive celebrities slated to be on hand at the two-day event that kicks off tomorrow morning, Don Garlits, the father of modern day drag racing, made time to chat with the media about the opportunity to come to the Atlanta Motorama and talk with fans about his illustrious drag-racing career.
"I love it. There's a simple reason: when I raced, I worked on my own car. I was completely focused," he said. "I never had much time to spend with the fans, and this is such a refreshing change to come out (to the show).
"And all the old guys come out and they'll say, 'Big Daddy, my dad took me to see you...' and these guys come out - they're 50-60 years old - and their dads had taken them to the race to watch me. And now they get to come out, and they all have a story, and they like to hear a story, and there's plenty of time to tell it. I really enjoy that. It's a blessing to me."
The 17-time drag-racing champion will be on the show's Bojangles' Stage to meet with fans at 2 p.m. tomorrow and at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday. He will also fire up one of his famous "Swamp Rat" rail dragsters at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday.
The 3rd Annual Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17. In just its third year, it has become one of the largest automotive festivals of its kind in the Southeast. Known as "Georgia's Motoring Festival," the show is a celebration of anything with an engine and includes a wide variety of attractions, including more than 1,000 custom, collector and award-winning vehicles, BIGFOOT® car-crushing exhibitions, freestyle motocross demonstrations, the Pull-A-Part Swap Meet, classic car auctions, celebrity appearances, a giant vendor mideay, a go-karting experience and even a kids zone and arts-and-craft fair.
Admission to the Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama is $12 per day. Kids ages 6 through 11 will be admitted for $5, with kids 5 and under admitted for free. For complete event information and to purchase tickets, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorama.com.