HSR competitor pilots final journey to International Space Station

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Longtime Historic Sportscar Racing competitor Larry Connor has reluctantly withdrawn his entry for this month’s HSR 44th Mitty at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, but the all-around adventurer literally has an out-of-this-world excuse.

Connor is currently part of a four-man crew that is making history as the first fully private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Connor and his “crewmates” successfully launched the Axiom 1 (Ax-1) mission from Cape Canaveral on Friday, April 8 in a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket-powered Dragon spacecraft to usher in a new era of privatized use. from the ISS laboratory in orbit.

Lifting off from historic Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the mission includes Axiom Space astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegri – mission commander and former NASA astronaut – and mission specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy. Unsurprisingly, Connor (pictured front right, above) serves as an Ax-1 pilot in an astronomical evolution of his racing experience in contemporary, historic, and vintage competitions.

“When we received the email that Larry was going to have to cancel his Mitty participation due to scheduling conflicts, I had no idea he was going to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Falcon. 9 Dragon a few days later,” HSR President David Hinton said. “We all wish Larry well with the rest of the mission and look forward to seeing him at an HSR event later this year. , when he returns to Earth.”

Connor’s last visit to the HSR paddock was at the season-ending 12-hour HSR Classic Sebring last December, where he broke his pre-flight training at Cape Canaveral – he completed nearly 900 hours of training at the during the six months preceding Ax-1. launch — to join his team in shaking up his new Audi R8 LMP.

Connor bought the ex-Rogers Motorsports Audi R8 LMP 2005 which won multiple HSR Classic 24 At Daytona victories, including the 2015 race with Doug Smith and Butch Leitzinger. Audi’s old Champion Racing livery was replaced with a new “Audi Silver” hue, but still showed its top speed at Sebring. With Audi LMP aces Brad Kettler and Bobby Green tuning the R8, Connor watched Leitzinger set the fastest lap time in three different sessions before heading back to Cape Canaveral.

In addition to vintage and historic racing with HSR and other bands, Connor is a two-time National Formula Atlantic SCCA Runoffs Champion, SCORE Off-Road Champion and Class Winner and has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 A Daytona .

Connor’s daredevil pursuits, however, are far from limited to the racetrack. Still going strong at the age of 72, he won aerobatic competitions and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Rainier.

Connor also completed three dives in five days in May 2021 in the Mariana Trench, an area of ​​the western Pacific Ocean which has a known depth of more than 36,000 feet – nearly seven miles – and is believed to be even deeper in places. Connor could very well hold the extreme record of being the only man to descend to the greatest depths of the earth and ascend the more than 225 nautical miles beyond our planet to reach the ISS in space.

According to NASA reports, Connor and his fellow crew members are scheduled to return to Earth no earlier than April 20 after approximately 12 days in space. The private astronauts of the Ax-1 mission, led by Axiom Space and SpaceX, will undock from the ISS at 10:35 a.m. on April 19 before beginning the return journey to Kennedy Space Center, where they will crash into space shore. from Florida at the earliest. at 7:19 a.m. on April 20.

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