June 23-26, 2022

Article penned by Colby Hillman


(This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Article) 

HISTORY and a little miscellaneous rambling: The Leadfoot Racing team always looks forward to Mid-Ohio, a world-renowned sportscar racing track just north of Columbus.  Constructed in 1962 by Les Griebling a successful local farmer and sports car lover who personally drove the road grader that laid out the original course.  Not to digress but I had the pleasure of meeting Les several times back in the early 70’s.  The first time was when a buddy of mine and I rented the track for the afternoon for $300 (try doing that again).  Mike and I took the day off of work, Mike loaded up his Formula Ford and I load up Mr. Feathers.  We ran the 45-minute drive up there and start unloading only to have him tell us he “changed his mind and the track was no longer for rent”. We later found out that to him we looked like a “couple of squirrels” and he had to mow the track’s grass and didn’t want to risk us “running into him”.  We tried in vain to convince him that since it was a 2 & 1/2-mile track, we’d just slow down as we went by him but “nope” that wasn’t going to work either.  

It’s now noon and now more than ever wanting to run our cars, we both loaded back up and drove the 2 hours down I-71 to south Columbus to the infamous “Columbus Motor Speedway” a local 3/8th mile high banked Saturday night “bullring” that had open practice every Wednesday afternoon.  They advertised that they’d let anybody “run what you brung” for $5.  In addition to late models, street and hobby stock our competition included a school bus and a guy in a station wagon pulling a boat who were practicing for the upcoming “School Bus and Trailer Races”.  We spent the next 3 hours getting educated by the locals on the nuances of driving inside a barrel.  It’s hard.    Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to get lapped by a school bus?  Let’s just say we left having a newfound respect for short tracks.  But that’s another story for another day.  

The second time I met Les Griebling was when he invited a couple of us to “lunch on the porch” at his very cool “chalet” just off what he referred to as “Lake Mid-Ohio”.  His “chalet” was a quaint 2 room “A” Frame resembling a Swiss Mountain Chalet.  He had built alongside his stocked fishpond which to this day resides in between the false grid and the tower.  Both the chalet and the fishpond (complete with huge fish) are still there today.  If you ever make it up to Mid-Ohio, take a peek.  I’d say that it’s kind of “cute”, but we all know that real racers don’t use the word “cute”, but Les did love to sit on the front porch and watch the races.  He’d talk about his dream to build a place to host local sports car events.  Look what it’s evolved into today.  His dream is now a picture book setting on what can be argued as one of the most beautifully landscaped 330-acre plots of land on earth.  

TRACK OVERVIEW: The main course is 2.4 mile with 15 turns and really does flow through the rolling hills and valleys of Central Ohio’s beautiful Amish Country.  You can be standing clear on the opposite side of the course or even in Lexington a small town 5 miles away and at the drop of the “Green” for the “big bore” races feel the ground shake while the deafening explosions of some 50 unleashed 800 horsepower motors, 400 cylinders of high compression, 113 octane fed rotating steel literally gives notice throughout the valley that the race has begun.  The combined “roar” of these fiberglass and steel beasts quickly spreads throughout the valley walls, returning to senders a sound which has become known throughout the racing world by the name of “Thunder Valley”.

Next: Part 2: The Mid-Ohio Trans Am by Pirelli and SVRA Mid-Ohio Speed Tour.

Photo courtesy of GoTransAm.com

Track Facts:

Opened: 1962
Length: 2.24 Miles
Layout: 13-Turn Road Course
Race Direction: Clockwise