If you want to go to Lime Rock Park, point your car towards northwestern Connecticut and drive. You’ll know you’re in the right neighborhood when the trees are tall, the hills are rolling, and the houses are for sale by Sotheby’s.
Historic Festival 33 took place from September 3-7, 2015. That’s four days of racing, car parades, and concourse. The Disembodied Voice at the track declared that the Lime Rock Historic Festival is third largest gathering of vintage racers in the country, and I can certainly believe it. The event seems to have tripled in size since the last time I saw it, with rare and exotic things on display and on the track. Combined with the new capital improvements to the track, Historic Festival 33 turned out to be a real winner.
(On a side note, does anyone know what the first and second largest events are? I assume that Monterrey is #1, but I don’t know #2.)
So let’s jump right in.
We’ll start with the demonstrations. The Revs Institute brought a few classic Mercedes Benz Grand Prix cars and LRP provided some racing heroes to fill the seats. First off was the 1939 Mercedes Benz W-154 piloted by Jochen Mass. The sound that this car made was amazing. I’m told also that you can’t stand too close to the exhaust when it’s running because the fumes from its exotic blend of gasoline are suffocating.
Along with the 1939 car, Revs also brought a 1914 Mercedes Benz Grand Prix car. I’m not sure who was driving, but the man sitting next to him was Sir Sterling Moss.
Not quite the oldest car I’ve seen in motion, but close. Revs had a few other vintage Mercedes Benzes on display in the paddock area, which I will post in Part II. For now, let’s go to the racing.
Group 1: Small-bore road going sports and GT cars
Group 1 is the epitome of what I think about when I think of vintage racing, quick little sports cars that are not so delicate that they can’t be raced in anger.
Race-winner Dave Nichols in a 1960 MGA
Dave Nichols won both Group 1 races handily. He also deserves special mention for being from Binghamton, the town where I lived when I was graduate school.
Jonathan Savage, 1959 MGA
Bob Kilpatrick, 1959 MGA
Jon Goodman, 1961 Alfa Romeo SZ
Jack Moreau, 1959 MGA
Edward Sanson, 1960 Alfa Romeo
Santo Spadaro, 1958 Alfa Romea (front) and Edward Potter, 1959 Alfa Romeo (back)
Group 2: Dawn of real performance: pre-war competition cars
You have to jump at any chance you get to see pre-war race cars on the track being driven in anger. These are the kinds of car that have some of the controls on the outside of the cockpit and the driver usually has at least one arm outside the car like a truck driver.
I probably could have watched the two Alfa Romeos all day. They made the most glorious sound and looked legitimately fast compared with the rest of the field.
Race winner Peter Greenfield in a 1935 Alfa Romeo 8C
Peter Giddings, 1932 Alfa Romeo P2B
George R Holman, 1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Liter
Yes, you read that correctly: this is a Bentley 4 1/2 Liter. In other words, this extremely rare pre-war race car is the fastest truck I’ve ever seen. The driver definitely needed to muscle this beast around the track as it was probably the heaviest thing out there.
U. Daniel Shose, 1933 Maserati 4C
Richard Mitchell, 1928 Stutz Blackhawk
Thomas Ellsworth, 1935 Amilcar
Bill Stelcher, 1929 Ford Model A Speedster
Frank Mount, 1939 MG TB
George Davidson, 1930 Bugatti T-35B
Jon Lee, 1932 Ford Sprint
Richard Mitchell 1929 Bugatti T-37A
Lester Niedell, 1933 Plymouth
Group 3: Formula Junior (FJ) and Formula Ford (FF)
Group 3 consists of the open-wheeled cars from the Grand Prix feeder series of the 1960s through the early 1980s, Formula Ford and it’s predecessor Formula Junior. FJs are a lot like mini-F1 cars, with similar chassis but smaller engines. The FFs existed during the Age of Downforce, so they are a bigger departure from their Formula 1 cousins since they don’t have wings.
David Allison, 1960 Lotus 18 FJ
David Allison’s Lotus is exactly the right colors.
Phil Lamont, 1960 Lotus 18 FJ
Hervey Parke, 1960 Elva 200 FJ
Nick Grewal, 1963 Lotus 27 FJ
Bill Gelles, 1959 Stanguellini FJ.
The only front-engined car in the Group 3 field. Also the one that made me finally put in some ear plugs.
Roy Walzer, 1963 Cooper FJ
Bob Goeldner, 1962 Brabham BT2 FJ
Dave Porter, 1971 Lotus 69 FF
I think Dave Porter was the race winner both times, but to be honest, I completely lost track of the order of this field.
Joseph Griffin, 1981 Crossle 45 FF
Tyler Pappas, 1982 Van Keiman FF
Peter Moody, 1982 Royale FF
Mike Taradash, 1971 Lotus FF
And lastly, this car. It looks like a Cooper FJ chassis, but I’m not sure since it’s not listed in the entry list. I also don’t know what’s going on with that engine intake in the back. I’ve never seen anything quite like that. It’s probably something to do with cold air or controlling condensation, but since I couldn’t identify the car I like to just think of it as the Mr. Fusion-power Formula Junior. If you’ve got any insights, please let us know in the comments.
Group 4: Post-war club racing cars
Group 4 was a really exciting field. The cars were fast and the drivers were good, so the racing was pretty close most of the time.
Sandra McNeil, Porsche 904
Richard Brown, 1969 Marcos GT
Robert Newman, 1964 Morgan 4/4
1970 Fiat Abarth TC
The Abarth has an air-cooled engine. Apparently it runs so hot that the only way to keep it cool is to keep the trunk (aka, the “boot”), open all the time. I’m guessing that this trunk lid adaptation also adds some rear downforce.
The Group 4 cars got some major lean coming out of this curve. You can tell who’s really pushing on the exit.
Richard Rzeplowski, 1971 MG Midget
Dave Gussack, 1963 Triumph Spitfire
Christopher Duerr, 1956 Porsche 356A
Kent Bain, 1965 Triumph Spitfire
Lee Talbot, 1967 Ginetta G4
Bill Warner, 1979 Triumph TR6
Part II with Groups 5-9 with more racing action plus the infield and paddock will be up soon.