HSR celebrates NASCAR’s 75th anniversary at Road Atlanta; Joe Nemechek wins

The Wood Brothers, center, were grand marshals for the HSR Mitty at Road Atlanta
Historic Sportscar Racing

BRASELTON, Ga. — With “Front Row” Joe Nemechek appropriately on the pole and one of the most famous families in all of motorsports presiding over the celebration, Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) paid tribute to NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary in a big way Saturday at the 45th HSR Mitty at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Founded in 1948, NASCAR marks its 75th Anniversary in 2023, and this weekend’s HSR Mitty is just one part of the year-long celebration. Historic Stock Cars have been a major part of HSR events at Michelin Raceway in recent years, but Saturday’s NASCAR 75 tribute set a new standard. The event attracted an HSR entry of more than 50 historic and vintage stock cars for both competition and exhibition laps on the 2.54-mile road course north of Atlanta.

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The iconic Wood Brothers Racing family was the perfect choice for this weekend’s Grand Marshal duties. Eddie Wood and Len Wood — the sons of the late Glen Wood who founded the team over 70 years ago — joined their equally legendary Uncle Leonard Wood in representing the family at the 45th Mitty on Saturday.

The NASCAR 75 feature events are also the second annual Gene Felton Memorial Challenge races, which honor the late road racing star and 2019 HSR Mitty Grand Marshal Gene Felton. Nemechek won the inaugural Gene Felton Memorial race last year and made his repeat bid a little bit easier by winning the pole for this weekend’s race.

Nemechek led a field of 35 HSR Group 8 Historic Stock Car competitors to the green flag for Saturday’s featured sprint and stayed there until the checkered flag. He pulled off the flag-to-flag victory in his NEMCO Motorsports 2007 No. 22 Chevrolet Silverado but the win was far from easy as top HSR regular Curt Vogt pressured Nemechek to the finish in his Cobra Automotive 2006 No. 38 Ford Fusion.

Vogt crossed the finish line in second place just 1.114 seconds behind Nemechek while Joe Burke was even closer to the No. 38 to secure a close third in his 2006 No. 48 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

Along with a solid turnout of competitors and race fans, several NASCAR and IMSA Executives were among the enthusiastic attendees Saturday. The group included NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France, NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, IMSA President John Doonan, IMSA CEO and NASCAR EVP, Chief Administrative Officer Ed Bennett and several other Daytona-based executives who were welcomed by MRRA President Rick Humphrey and HSR President David Hinton.

The second and final Gene Felton Memorial Challenge NASCAR 75 feature race of the 45th HSR Mitty weekend is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. ET Sunday.