We won! Vindication: The no. 48 Mustang of Heritage Motorsports earned the fastest qualifying position for GT racers, right behind the 4 lighter prototypes. Television producer, Chet Burks, wondered before the race if the Heritage team ...
The no. 48 Mustang of Heritage Motorsports earned the fastest qualifying position for GT racers, right behind the 4 lighter prototypes. Television producer, Chet Burks, wondered before the race if the Heritage team thought it could take the race to the prototypes. The answer came in only lap one. Having been put back to 15th on the starting grid, from the 5th place berth which qualifying driver Tommy Riggins earned, the 48 car passed 5 cars by the end of that first lap with Riggins at the wheel. Several laps later the 48 Mustang, with Riggins still cranking, was right back in that 5th slot, with only the 4 prototypes ahead. Amazingly, the top 5 positions were exactly in qualifying order!
With some careless driving and general ill luck on the part of the lighter-weight prototypes, the 48 GTS Mustang stood the chance of moving up... and that's just what happened. By the end of hour one, the 58 Brumos Porsche spun, the air dramatically ripping the left-side cockpit door open (driven by David Donohue, son of the late driving legend, Mark Donohue). Just a little later, apparently under pressure to regain position, Donohue tangled with the Chevy prototype of Terry Borcheller, and by hour two that pair was back to 6th and 8th positions respectively. Then the yellow Picchio prototype of G&W Motorsports began to suffer apparent engine trouble and fell out of the short lead it enjoyed. The 48 Heritage Motorsports Mustang was swapping in and out of 3rd and 4th. Hour 2 of this 250 mile or 2 and a half hour event saw the Mustang solidly in 4th place overall, topping the GT category.
David Machavern, team owner, took over the driving duties from hot-shoe Riggins somewhere before the second hour mark. Machavern has only recently completed his first full year of competitive driving at this top level of sports car racing. He's seen several championships in SCCA, but he's proving himself a worthy driving partner to Riggins, who is 7th on the All-Time Win List for the International Motor Sports Association. Machavern drove a very long stint during the heart of the race, climbing into the car on lap 60 and relinquishing to Riggins on lap 128 of this 151 lap event. Machavern exited with no strength in his left arm. Barely able to raise the limb, he drove the last of his laps one-handed.
The race ran into the time limit of two and a half hours, and the checkered flag fell on the 48 Mustang in 4th place overall,winning the GTS class! The number 59 prototype entered by Brumos Porsche, Jacksonville, Florida... and driven by Hurley Haywood and JC France took the first place on the victory podium.
Mr. Burks' question was well placed. The Heritage Motorsports Mustang DID in fact take the race to the prototypes. "We could have finished a little better, even", said Dave Machavern at the end. "We have something wrong with the engine, I think a header broken or something, so we're down on power." (In fact, one of the exhaust header bolts worked loose on the right side of the V8 engine.) But, it was said with a broad smile on the face of a tired & satisfied team owner.