Kohler Challenge at Road America


Hot on the heels of a terrific race weekend at beautiful Mont Tremblant comes the Kohler international Challenge with Brian Redman at Road America. Since different cars were going to each race, truck driver extraordinaire Harvey Thompson had to drive back to VRS on Monday and leave for Wisconsin at o’dark thirty the following morning, arriving at 10AM Wednesday. The KIC is a favorite of many drivers and one sees rare and special cars that seldom appear anywhere else. This is a big spectator event and this year the stands and paddock were filled with race fans who were not disappointed.

Our driver lineup for the weekend consisted of:

  • Mark Simpson driving his beautiful 1958 Scarab reproduction
  • Jim Lenehan and his Swift DB2 and Datsun 240Z
  • Mayo Smith and his Porsche 911RS
  • Brian and Larry sharing track time in the VRS Swift DB2

The weekend started on a very sad note. Ed Jenson, Group 6 Camaro driver and brother of SVRA Competition Director Carl Jensen died suddenly Thursday morning. Ed was a true gentleman and was well liked and respected by all who knew him. Only last October, Ed was named 2009 SVRA Driver of the Year, an honor that he was most proud of. All of us at VRS extend our sympathy to Ed’s wife, Suzette and to his family.


Thursday practice got off to a good start with Mayo back in to saddle again and going well in the Porsche 911. Mark’s Scarab looked and sounded great until an engine problem sidelined it for the weekend late Thursday afternoon. Having previously raced a Lola S2000, Mark jumped into the VRS Swift and felt right at home.

The race gods were not quite done yet on Friday as Jim’s Swift suffered (as Chrysler Corporation used to put it) a thermal event at the start of Friday afternoon practice. Fortunately, Jim got out quickly and was unscathed but the Swift looked a bit scorched. Further examination revealed that it looked worse than it actually was but not repairable for the weekend. Jim jumped to his other car, the Datsun 240Z, for the remainder of the weekend.

All went according to plan on Saturday. The cars ran perfectly and the drivers did as well. Mayo ran a good qualifying race to finish 2nd in Group 8 and Jim was 24th in a huge field of over 60 cars. Sunday’s Group 8 race was terrific as Mayo moved up to 1st at the start and held off the field for a well deserved win. Good job! Jim also ran well moving up eight places to finish 16th overall. This was just not going to be Mark’s weekend. After waiting all day for his 3PM Group 7 race, Mark drove out to the false grid just in time for the skies to open up with a deluge that filled the poor Swift up like a bathtub. Mark, being Mark, took it all in stride.

So long to the KIC for another year. We’ll be back to enjoy one of the world’s great road courses once again. Now it’s off to Lime Rock Park for the Fall Festival with Watkins Glen close behind. It’s hard to believe that the season is half over.