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ALMS Heritage Car Makes Surprise Visit

rothmans_porscheYou know what’s cool about Lime Rock? You just never know what you’ll see on the track...

With the exciting American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix coming up July 8-9, a neat piece of ALMS’s heritage showed up for Tuesday’s Test & Tune. Today we saw a car that hadn’t been “out of the garage” in more than 25 years: an early ‘80s Rothmans Porsche 956, chassis -009.

The current owner, Greg Galdi, had recently re-built the engine and was doing some “installation” laps to make sure everything was up to snuff.

The leading prototypes that competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1980s were generally the cars that were raced in the FIA World Sports Car Championship and/or World Endurance Championship. According to our [admittedly] hasty research, Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof raced -009 in 1983 and 1984.

This chassis didn’t race at Le Mans, but it did put up the fourth-fastest practice time in 1985 at Le Sarthe as the T-car.

Regardless of its Le Mans heritage, 956-009 is considered by some experts as the most successful of the 10 works cars, winning seven World Endurance Championship victories in Rothmans colors between October of 1983 and December of 1984; Bellof won the World Championship title in 1984.

Anyway, it was very cool to see this Porsche 956 here. And yes, we would have told you it was coming ahead of time if we had known, but we didn’t. Mr. Galdi had simply said when he was making his Test & Tune reservation that he was “bringing some vintage cars to dial in.” Doh!

Other ALMS stuff... The ALMS folks tell us that registration will close in less than a week for the annual ALMS/AutoWeek/Corvette Le Mans Sweepstakes. The “ultimate racing lover's dream” features a five-day/four-night trip to the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours – with airfare, hotel and travel allowances covered… plus a 2010 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible! Visit racetowincorvette.com to register.

He’s a Sharp one... Some people can say they grew up at a racetrack. Scott Sharp can say he honestly has. The owner/driver of Extreme Speed Motorsports went to his first race at Lime Rock Park at the ripe old age of 6 months to watch his dad Bob go ‘round and ‘round Lime Rock in a variety of GT cars. Now it’s Scott’s turn to continue the Sharp legacy at the track in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.

A native of Norwalk, Conn., the Scott will be back at Lime Rock with one of ESM’s Ferrari F458 Italias, co-driving with Johannes van Overbeek. The pairing will look to improve on last year’s sixth-place GT finish. (By the way, Sharp won overall at Lime Rock with David Brabham driving the Highcroft Racing Acura prototype in 2008.)

“It’s unique in that it is such a small track,” Sharp says. “There are only a handful of corners, and the laps go by very quickly! In the ALMS, traffic seems to be a huge deal at Lime Rock and negotiating your way through determines success or failure. It is one of my favorite tracks to visit and the Connecticut fans offer such great support for my dad and me. It makes it special to go back there each year.”

Check this out... Writing for ESPN, David Phillips examines Muscle Milk Racing's (last year's Northeast Grand Prix winner) move from Porsche power to becoming an official team of Aston Martin Racing to start 2011. Sports car racing coverage on espn.com? That’s a good thing, we love it.

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