Phil Wicks Driving Academy
First of all, I would like to thank Flow MINI of Raleigh and Winston Salem NC for contributing to make this whole event such a huge success. The encouragement and good luck wishes from the MINI Cooper owners that came to the track to watch me race my 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S gave me the extra determination to try my best to put on a good show in the races.
On Saturday, September 28, the race consisted of MG Midgets, Austin Healys, Sprites, Formula V single seaters, MGAs, Fiat, and my Austin Mini Cooper S. I was placed 3rd on the grid based on my practice times on Friday. The race developed into a great scrap between two very fast “spridgets” and my Mini Cooper, passing and repassing one another right down to the last lap with my Mini (Snoopy) prevailing to with the race overall and place first in my class. My best time was 2:23.7 which is 4 seconds faster than my best ever lap time at VIR. The track has been resurfaced.
My win in Saturday’s race put me on pole position for the Gold Cup Race on Sunday. I led the first lap and felt if I could keep the car on the track I might with this race as well. Then, out of nowhere, I was passed quite easily going up the hill on the back straight by a Brabham BT6 which is a full spec Formula Junior single seater with a very fast Sprite on its tail. How the BT6 was allowed to be eligible for our race, I don’t know!!! The driver of the BT6 was obviously a novice new to racing as the car slowed dramatically in all of the corners, allowing the Sprite to get away and the BT6 blocking me for the rest of the race. The race organizers told me later that the BT6 was so pitifully slow in its own group (Group 2) that they moved the car to our group (Group 1). And, of course, the same thing happened in our race – fast on the straight but slow in the corners. However, that’s racing. I finished 3rd overall and first in class. I’ll take it! The fastest time by the winning Sprite was in the 2:24 times – slower than my winning time on Saturday.
After the podium ceremony, we rested up and got ready for the Sunday evening reception hosted by Flow MINI. This was held in the newly renovated Historic North Theatre in downtown Danville VA. Food and drink was served all around. Then they showed the Italian Job movie which I introduced on stage. Early night to bed, then up early for the Phil Wicks Driving Academy sponsored by Flow MINI of Raleigh and Winston Salem the next day.
Monday, September 29, started with a slow drizzle of rain and kept up all day long. But it did not damper the spirits of the 47 MINI Cooper owners that came to VIR full course to participate in the Phil Wicks Driving Academy tuitional driving event. The participants were divided into 2 groups. Novice drivers had instructors in the cars.
All drivers attended classroom sessions throughout the day and all classroom sessions were conducted by Phil Wicks. During the lunch break, all drivers assembled their cars on the grid for a group photo op. And then all cars were allowed on track for the touring laps. Drivers were allowed to take passengers to experience driving on the full track at VIR.
After lunch, the on-track and classroom sessions continued to the end of the day. A Certificate of Completion of the Phil Wicks Driving Academy was presented to all participants. There were lots of smiling faces.
Many thanks to my sponsors for making this event so successful. My racing sponsors: Mini Mania for parts; Hoosier Tires for great grip; Midlands Motorworks of Columbia SC; the Brusnahan Clan of Alexandria VA, Zapata Race Team of Nashville TN, Flow MINI for the reception attended by all Phil Wicks Driving Academy participants and guests, and making the track day on Monday, the 29th possible, and all the instructors that traveled far and wide to provide expert tuition in the cars. And most of all, my wife Norree for all of the administration and office work in support of Phil Wicks Driving Academy and our English Cocker, Sherry for unconditional love.