Sometimes, running a race track is like being in a reality TV show… you just can’t make up some of the stuff you see and hear. For example, on January 14, Skip Barber was at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when a race fan came up and said, “Since ALMS and Grand-Am aren’t running at Lime Rock this year, I guess you guys won’t be having any big races in 2014, huh?”
Whoa! Cut the camera! While it’s true that as a result of the merger of Grand-Am and ALMS we went from hosting five major events to three, those three – IMSA Continental Tire Sports Cars/Porsche GT3 Cup, Historic Festival 32, and the Trans-Am Season Finale – are big-field, exciting, solid race weekends, all with excellent support races. In addition (and as always), there will be two SCCA races, including the NARRCS, a Lime Rock staple for more than 50 years. Do we wish we had more races of that caliber on the schedule? Yes. We also wish it could be Christmas every day. But rest assured, oh ye faithful, the racing lamp at LRP will burn brightly in the ’14 season and you won’t be disappointed.
(Photos above, Conti Challenge, May 23-25, Memorial Day weekend; HF32, Aug. 28-Sept. 1, Labor Day weekend; Trans-Am round 9, Sept. 19-20, LRP Season Finale)
Here’s another wacky myth that deserves some immediate busting: “If a racing or driving club doesn’t schedule dates with Lime Rock in 2014, it has no hope of getting a date in the future, right?” Um, wrong: Every winter, Lime Rock fields hundreds of calls and emails from folks interested in renting the track, skid pad, autocross and chalets, and we’ve been successful at accommodating almost everyone, whether they are first-timers or long-time regulars. If an organization isn’t able to find workable dates or simply doesn’t have an interest in a 2014 event, the track will figure out dates for them for 2015 and beyond. Of course, we could free up some more track time by eliminating the IMSA and Trans Am, but that’s not gonna happen (!).
Now this next myth might actually make sense if we were gardeners instead of racers: “Lime Rock closes in November and re-opens in April.” Sorry, Organic Mulch Breath, Lime Rock rents the autocross and hospitality chalets all year round, and even the 1.5-mile track is rentable under certain conditions. And of course, the Scheduling, Marketing, Accounting, Operations and Catering Departments are busy preparing for the next season.
Next up, a telecommunications myth: “Lime Rock has no cell- or smart-phone coverage.” Well, once upon a time, that was true, but now it totally isn’t. Did you not notice that big ol’ 3G AT&T cell tower (4G by April) between the two infield chalets? Works like a champ. In addition, just last month Verizon activated a brand new 4G tower two miles up Route 7 – and there’s a good chance other carriers will rent space on the that tower too – so you can talk, text and stream to your heart’s content. Can you hear me now? Oh, yeah.
And finally, the perennial, will-this-rumor-never-go-away, Grand Daddy Myth of them all: “Skip Barber wants to sell the track.” Actually… he doesn’t. But since his current plan is to not live forever, one day in the future, yes, he will sell the track. But on this he is very clear: It will be sold to someone who can ensure Lime Rock’s racing future. So please, no more golf course inquiries, ok? Skip is the ultimate caretaker of Lime Rock and will one day leave it to someone else to do the same. Until then, the track remains in his capable hands.
The bottom line is that Lime Rock Park is well-staged for a successful 2014 and way beyond. Skip Barber has not lessened his ongoing commitment to continually improve both the fan and driver/competitor/team experience at Lime Rock Park. We’re looking forward to an exciting, action-packed season this year, and we hope to see you!