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Lime Rock 2012

Well, the big event has come and gone. This one will go down as one of the most memorable of the last five years for the cars, the friends who made the drive, and the assorted adventures that transpired.

I’m embarrassed to report, however, that I failed miserably in taking pictures of the adventurers’ cars—’91 Lotus Esprit, ’59 Sebring prepared ‘bugeye’ Sprite, ’55 MGTF, Ducati, ’12 Subaru wagon—and, sadly, Lee Romano’s ’61 MGA was a last minute mechanical casualty and couldn’t make the trip and Lee A’s Corvette Z06 was a stay-at-home so he could graciously drive the support car. I’m hoping to beg on the mercies of the participants to send me a few shots of each of the rides so  can at least put the cars and the faces together.

Starting from center (left to right): Lee R., Lee A., Rex, Bill, Bruce, Dick, Rick, and myself

As is our tradition, this year’s adventure started off with breakfast at Mom’s Country Kitchen in Wallingford (VT). Mom’s is the source for some of the best blueberry pancakes in the state as well as some just plain good breakfasts. George Ohlweiler in the Esprit was unable to join us for our morning repast but we hooked up with him just down the road later in the morning.

Driver/navigator pairings were: Austin Healey Sebring Sprite – Rick/David, ’91 Lotus Esprit – George/Lee R., ’55 MGTF – Bill/Bruce, Ducati – Dick, Subaru chase vehicle – Lee R/Rex. We took off under a bit of cloud cover and even encountered a light sprinkle but by around 9:30 the clouds had given way to a brilliant blue sky with just enough clouds to complete the picture.

The drive down Route 7 was just spectacular and, it should be noted, that the Sebring Sprite legitimately passed the Esprit on a two-lane stretch just outside of Bennington. Okay, maybe the Lotus was just being friendly, but we passed George nonetheless and now rate an upside down Lotus “kill” decal on the driver’s door of the Sprite. The only interruptions to and otherwise great drive were the constant text messages from Lee R in the chase car (it should be noted that his was the only vehicle with on-board navigation) asking me where we were.

Our fuel stop on the way down is in Pittsfield, MA at the Mobile station just a bit down the street from the dog leg through town. Besides gassing up any of the vehicles that were in need, it was an opportunity for a couple of the navigators to swap rides – Lee R. jumping into the MGTF with Bill, and Bruce taking a seat in the chase car. I could have been a more gracious host and given up my seat in the Sprite but you’d have to pry my cold dead hands off the grab bar for that to happen. There were no takers.

After Pittsfield we continued on Route 7 through Stockbridge and Great Barrington then the last leg to Lime Rock. Usually, I just keep going on 7 through Canaan, CT and turn right at Rte 112 to the track but Rick has been going to Lime Rock for years and knew of a super secret (not any more) route via Rte. 43 and Salmon Kill Road that drops you out just above the back entrance to the track. Wow! Just, wow! It’s hard to tell whether the road was made for the Sprite or the Sprite was made for the road. Either way, it was possibly one of the most perfect sports car roads ever and Rick took full advantage of both the corners and the straights to give the Sprite full leash. Just exquisite.

A piece of automotive racing history

Once at the track, we split up and each of us wandered off to the things we most wanted to see, meeting up later at the beer tent (top of the hill) for some sliders and a brew before taking in the afternoon races. Of all the cars at this year’s event, Jim Hall and Hap Sharp’s number one chassis Chaparall was tops on my list to see. This is the car that started it all for the Texas duo and was simply breathtaking to see it up close and to hear it barking away on the starting grid. Even though I’m a Ford guy, the bite of that Chevy race motor was something to hear.

I’ll add more to this story as I acquire some of the shots from my co-conspirators but for now, here’s what I have from shooting the A and B paddocks. I’ve skipped cars that I shot at previous Lime Rock events, so these are all new (excepting the Abarth). I know Lee R. shot a ton of race activity including some cool video and I’m in hopes that he’ll send it my way so I can post up here for all. In the meantime…

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