Hotlanta, Racing, and a Frozen Warbird

Kas Kastner

Kas Kastner, signing autogrphs and keeping cool by all available means.

Whether you’re referring to the racing or the weather, The Mitty, held at Road Atlanta from April 27-29 had plenty of hot to go around. Lovers of on track performance were greeted by both originals, and recreations of famous race cars from the heyday of Triumph sports car racing. If famous people are more your style, the Classic Motorsports tent played host to automotive luminaries such as Robert “Kas” Kastner, Bob Tulius, Jennifer Revson (sister of the late racing driver Peter Revson, and trustee of the Motorsports Hall of Fame), Mike Cook, and others.

Among the “others,” was a man named Richard Taylor. To an arch fan of WWII warbirds, the name of Richard Taylor means quite a lot. You see, Richard, an architect by trade and sometime TR4 vintage racer, once dug up a P-38 Lightning fighter from under almost 300 feet of ice…in Greenland. Compared to digging out a suspension piece from under 50 years of dirt and grease, digging up a whole WWII twin engine fighter from under a glacier is a really big deal.

Prior to The Mitty, I had been given a heads up that somebody who “had something to do with digging up an old airplane from under a glacier” would be racing in Atlanta. As the only airplane I could think of fitting this description is the P-38 Glacier Girl, I greeted the weekend with high anticipation. Friday afternoon, while sitting in the Grassroots tent trying not to melt, I was approached by Neil Estes of Neil’s restorations.

The Mitty Road Atlanta

Neil Estes and Richard Taylor. Vintage racers and famous warbird spelunkers.

Not only did Neil recognize me as the Moss Motors guy (time to change disguises again), but he knew of my interest in aviation from a previous British Motoring editorial. As we got to talking, he mentioned both his own role in the Glacier Girl saga, and that Richard Taylor, one of the original two men to go after the lost aircraft, was at the track. In fact, he was sitting at a table just over there, about twelve feet away. Attack!

I can be really shy about introducing myself to busy famous people, but sometimes all other considerations are secondary, I had to speak with this man. So what was said in conversation? Not much of general interest to a sports car crowd, for a life long warbird fan, however, they could have cancelled the races and I still would have considered the trip time well spent.

The story here is not about the weather, or the cars, or even the Friday and Saturday night parties at the Moss Motors Pub, it’s simply this: along with all the great automotive history on display, there was an abundance of really cool people to meet. One of the great things about hanging around the classic car scene is the people. They come from all walks of life, and some of them have incredibly compelling stories from outside of the hobby.

Glacier Girl P-38

Glacier Girl at the Chino, CA, warbird show.

If you’d like to know more of the story behind Glacier Girl, just surf your way to El Goog, or pick up a copy of the book Lost Squadron by David Hayes. It may be about an airplane locked in ice, instead of a car with a tree growing through the floor, but you won’t run across a better story of human persistence. Knowing a couple of the major players in that adventure were busy hammering on a sick TR4, trying to keep it on track, just made the whole weekend a little bit sweeter.

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