RACER #296: Serious Fun

RACER #296: Serious Fun

Mitch Bishop was born into a racing family. Father John and mother Peggy founded the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) in 1969 when Mitch was 13 years old. Summers were spent touring the country with the series, and even from a young age, Mitch was busy working the “family business.”

“Back in the 1970s, IMSA was a small, tight-knit community,” recalls Mitch. “All of the teams, drivers and officials were like family. My parents always got a big table at a local restaurant on Thursday and Friday nights and invited anyone from the series to come along. Racers are always competitive, but it was also common that when someone needed help with spare parts or something else, all the others would chip in to help where they could.”

Mitch moved west from the family home in Connecticut after earning a degree in computer science from the University of Connecticut. He was at the leading edge of the field and it was Silicon Valley that offered him a career. Yet racing was never far from his heart.

During the early part of his career in high-tech, he graduated from racing school and competed in a few IMSA RS and Firestone Firehawk races. Then other priorities beckoned. Eventually, he was able to return to the race track to compete part time in the Grand-Am Cup during the latter part of 2006.

He discovered Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in 2007 as the result of a marketing program he developed to build relationships with IT decision makers.

Bishop recalls that the facility was little more than a ribbon of asphalt laced across a chunk of Nevada desert, with Las Vegas far off in the distance. Today, Spring Mountain has blossomed into a premier motorsports facility, with more than six miles of track that can adapt to over 50 unique configurations. There’s also a luxury clubhouse, SM Estates, condominiums, garages and host of other amenities. As if that’s not enough, a new track and hotel expansion phase is now underway.

The Club Spring Mountain Race Series is the main draw for Bishop, who competes in the LSR3 class behind the wheel of a Radical SR3 for the past four years.

“Everyone who races at Spring Mountain leads a busy life, but when you come through the gates for a race weekend, there’s this enormous sense of relief,” says Bishop, who became a club member in 2014. “The car is prepped and ready. There are 15-20 cars on the grid, and they’re all so even that it comes down to driver talent and setup.”

According to Bishop, it’s not only his fellow competitors, but all of the staff, including the technicians, coaches and crew, who facilitate the smooth operation of the series.

“It’s the same mechanic who works on my car for the season and the same driver coach, so over time the rapport that’s developed and the comfort level that’s raised makes a big difference in my ability to be competitive and have fun,” he says. “But even with that one-on-one relationship that we enjoy, it’s a team effort when needed to resolve any issues quickly and keep us on track.”
On track the racing’s intense, but respectful.

“We have a no contact rule. It doesn’t just keep us and our equipment safe, it also forces us to be better drivers and sharpens our racecraft,” adds Bishop, who finished second overall in class for the 2018 season. “We all want to race hard to go for the win. Then as soon as we’re off the track, we’re all best friends again. It’s a great group of people, with great personal stories that make it fun to spend time with each other. It reminds me of those early days of IMSA.”

Arrive and Drive

Club Spring Mountain Race Series members enjoy turn-key service, whether it’s a personal drive day or a race series weekend. With a simple phone call, your racecar can be prepped and fueled ready to get you out on track as soon as you arrive at the Nevada resort.

The Club Spring Mountain Race Series is open to members only. It features classes for Light Sport Racers like the Radical SR3 and Wolf GB08SM Turbo, as well as a class for Mazda Miatas.

To learn more about membership levels and the race series, visit springmountainmotorsports.com

MX-5 Cup | Round 12 – VIR