Bennett Controls Long Beach GTO Challenge

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Craig Bennett in victory lane Saturday in Long Beach, Calif. (Leah Bennett Photo)

MONTROSE, Calif. – Craig Bennett swept qualifying and the Historic IMSA GTO Challenge race in his 1990 Nissan 300ZX at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Saturday.

Bennett took the checkered flag after turning the streets of Long Beach into his personal playground at the Historic Motor Sports Ass’n sanctioned race. It was his second historic win at Long Beach.

Joel Miller finished second in his 1991 Mazda RX7 and Escondido’s Ken Davis rounded out the top three in his 1985 Ford Mustang.

“The fun part about what I get to do is drive with Joel and the rest of these great drivers,” Bennett said. “I knew the best opportunity I was going to have to win would be driving through traffic and managing the race.”

HMSA President Cris Vandagriff has overseen the vintage portion of the wildly popular Southern California tradition nine times and said 2019 was an exciting race enjoyed by many – especially the racers.

“There are always a ton of moving pieces to running a race of this magnitude, but everyone had a great time and the racing was very exciting,” Vandagriff said. “The racers provided some incredible competition and it seems like every time Craig Bennett shows up for this race, he wins, but the other racers made him work for it.”

When it comes to vintage classics racing, it’s difficult not to enjoy the driving part, even if you don’t win.

“It’s just so great running with these guys and it’s an absolute joy racing these cars,” Miller said.

The cars in the Historic IMSAS GTO Challenge were required to be period correct race cars from 1980 through 1991 – helping to celebrate the 50thanniversary of IMSA.