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Farmington Business Owner Wins First AxIS Shoot-Out



Dean Cusano drove his special 1984 Jaguar XJS to victory in the First Annual Wells Fargo Advisors Presents the Lime Rock Park Autocross Invitational Shoot-out (AxIS) Saturday, November 16, beating 17 other drivers to take the inaugural championship.  

Cusano’s fastest lap was a :38.333 (seconds), nipping John Rickermann and his 2007 Honda Civic Si’s :39.281. Third place went to a 2009 Audi R8 driven by Adam Totter, who lapped the autocross in :39.791.

AxIS 4a
Cusano's lightweight 1984 Jag -- about 205 h.p. from the six-banger -- cresting the Uphill of the full autocross course. Photos (more below) by Rick Roso

Drivers qualified for the Shoot-out by posting one of the 20-fastest lap times of the year during one of the 10 Open-Enrollment Autocross Days that were scheduled in 2013 at Lime Rock Park. Each autocross day ended with a timed lapping session of Lime Rock’s 4/10s-mile full autocross course. These 20 fastest drivers at the end of the season were invited to Saturday’s AxIS.

Following two hours of open practice, each entrant took to the track for a warm-up lap, followed by three timed hot laps. The fastest of those three laps determined the placing.

Cusano, 55, from Farmington, Conn., and owner of Motorcars Incorporated, a Jaguar restoration outfit based in Plainfield, said, “Lime Rock is my heaven, I’ve been coming here since I was a teen. Winning the Shoot-out – especially the first one, because this is too cool of a thing to do just once – is very, very satisfying.”

Wells Fargo Advisor’s Chris Benjamin awarded the trophies and prizes and said, “This is why we all like Lime Rock so much, which does fun, exciting things like this for its fans. Watch out, I may enter my Jeep Wrangler into AxIS II!”

The cars in the Shoot-out ranged from a 22-year-old, 100 h.p. Mazda Miata and Cusano’s 205 h.p. Jag to Mitsubishis and Subarus – even a 2013 BMW X1 SUV.

Between the first Open Autocross Day in March to the finale in October, more than 250 people enrolled in Lime Rock’s exclusive driving program.  The days are open to any licensed driver and car, and the cost is $225. Driving coaches are available for feedback and instruction at each day. The 2014 schedule of Lime Rock Open-Enrollment Autocross Days will be published in December.

Final Standings
2013 Wells Fargo Advisors Presents the Lime Rock Park Autocross Invitational Shoot-out (AxIS)
Fin., Best lap (sec), Driver, Town, Car
1. 38.333, Dean Cusano, Farmington, Conn., 1984 Jaguar XJS
2. 39.281, John Rickermann, Burlington, Conn., 2007 Honda Civic Si
3. 39.791, Adam Totter, Massapequa, N.Y., 2009 Audi R8
4. 39.914, Erik Carlson, Newington, Conn., 2008 Ford Mustang GT
5. 39.919, Ryan King, Florence, Mass., 2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder
6. 40.493, Timothy Copp, Danbury, Conn., 2006 Honda S2000
7. 40.563, Jose Vergara, Chappaqua, N.Y., 2012 VW Golf R
8. 40.574, Stefan Jackson, Thomaston, Conn., 2010 Mitsubishi Evo
9. 40.599, Shawn Quint, Thomaston, Conn., 2011 Subaru WRX STi
10. 40.802, Gordy Wagner, Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., 1998 BMW M3
11. 40.812, Steve Constable, Hyde Park, N.Y., 2005 BMW M3
12. 40.914, Fred Messore, Orange, Conn., 2013 Porsche Boxster S
13. 40.996, John Isaacs, Orange, Conn., 1990 Porsche 911
14. 41.182, Eric LaCore, Bethel, Conn., 2006 Mazda Miata 
15. 41.274, Paul Norman, Middleborough, Mass., 2005 MazdaSpeed MX-5 Miata 
16. 41.676, Ray Hartford, Suffield, Conn., 1991 Mazda Miata
17. 42.070, Mike Doyle, Irvine, Mass., 2007 Saleen Mustang
18. 42.659, Chris Araujo, West Stockbridge, Mass., 2013 BMW X1

- Rick Roso
More photos below

AxIS 2
Pre-race drivers meeting



AxIS 5

AxIS 6
Third place went to Adam Totter and his R8

AxIS 7

AxIS 12

AxIS 3

AxIS 11
John Rickermann snagged a decisive P2 in his Civic Si

AxIS 8

AxIS 10
Cusano crests the autocross Uphill

AxIS 9
Left to right: Chris Benjamin, Wells Fargo Advisors; AxIS winner Dean Cusano; Lead Coach Dean DiGiacomo; Driver Coach Roger Cote

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LRDC Member Wins Tough Race at VIR

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Lime Rock Drivers Club member Rob Nimkoff and teammates Tim Bell, Al Davis and Dillon Machavern drove their Car Guy Nation Aston Martin Vantage GT4 to the win in the SCCA North Carolina Region’s annual “13 Hour Charge of the Headlight Brigade” at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, Oct. 26. The Region bills the “Charge” as the “sixth-longest closed-course auto race in the world*.”

Not long after the start and his first 90 minute stint, Nimkoff took over P1 when the two Radicals in first and second fell by the wayside with mechanicals.

“The car remained solid and consistently outpaced the rest of the field,” said Jared Lamanna, chief tech on the GT4. “Though not without a bit of drama, we remedied a handful of small problems.”

Approaching the 10th hour, Bell passed a car during a full course yellow flag and had to sit in pitlane for :2.30. Machavern then drove the final stint and got the Aston back up to second place, duking it out fender to fender with the leading BMW M3. With 30 minutes to go, the Bimmer suffered a mechanical, handing the win to the Car Guy Nation Aston Martin.

Car Guy Nation is a Lime Rock Park marketing partner, and we congratulate them on their team’s success at VIR.

*Behind Thunderhill’s 25 Hour, and the 24s of Le Mans, Daytona, Nürburgring, Spa and Bathurst

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It was a TaylorFest in Final Grand-Am Race

Velocity DP
Photo by Gary Gold

Click here for the Saturday photos by Greg Clark and Casey Keil.

When it comes to Daytona Prototype racing at Lime Rock Park, there are just two names you have to know, now and forever:

Taylor and Angelelli.

Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series has been to Lime Rock three times prior to today. This year was the fourth and final time, as Grand-Am/ALMS becomes the Tudor United Sports Car Championship as of right now.

The first Daytona Prototype race at Lime Rock, in 2010, was won by Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR), driven by Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor, Wayne's oldest son (he was 21 at the time). The second DP race here was won by WTR, again Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor winning. In 2012, the third DP race at... well, you can guess, right? WTR with Max and Ricky.

Today, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Velocity Worldwide/Toshiba/Chevrolet Corvette DP won its fourth consecutive Lime Rock Grand-Am race, driven by Angelelli and Jordan Taylor, Wayne’s other, and youngest (22) son.

But Wait, There’s More (apologies to AutoWeek)...  Eight years ago, Wayne Taylor was both the team owner and one of its drivers. Guess who his co-driver was when WTR won the driver’s title in 2005? Max the Axe, of course.

Remarkable. And very cool.

Angelelli, who had qualified the Corvette DP fifth, took the first stint and handed the car to Taylor an hour later, who re-joined fifth. With an hour to go in the 2:45 race, Taylor took the lead back when Gustavo Yacaman (Michael Shank Racing Aero/Tuvacol Ford-Riley) pitted for fuel. Despite two full-course caution periods that allowed Yacaman to close up, each time Taylor did a Vettel and broke away to big leads on each re-start and cruised home to the win.

In the GT class, Eric Curran of Holyoke, Mass., who’s been racing at Lime Rock since he was a teen, took over from co-driver Lawson Aschenbach at the halfway point and drove their Whelen Engineering (a Connecticut company) Chevy Corvette to the win over the Ferrari 458 of Leh Keen and Alex Balzan, the second place finish being more than enough to clinch the Grand-Am GT driver’s title for Balzan.

In today’s first race, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Grand Sport Division, it was like the old pony car wars, as a Mustang beat a Camaro. Billy Johnson and Jack Roush, Jr. – yes, that Roush’s son – drove their Boss 302R to the win over John Edwards and Matt Bell in a Camaro GS.R. Great stuff. (On Friday, Mike LaMarra and Terry Borcheller won the Conti Tire ST crow with a fifth-place finish in their BMW 128i in a dramatically won race by Joel Miller and Tristen Nunez in their Mazda Miata.)

So there you have it, a history making day as a very large crowd of Lime Rock fans witnessed the last ever Grand-Am race, the crowning of its last champions, and the end of an era... and beginning next year, the start of a new one.

By the way, look for an announcement of our upcoming 2014 races in the near future.

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Prototype & GT Racing at LRP

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Prototype and GT Racing at Lime Rock   
Names, Numbers & Whatnot...

With the last-ever Grand-Am race coming up in a couple days -- the Grand-Am Championship Weekend Presented by BMW -- we thought you would enjoy a mini-rehash of this kind of racing at LRP.

Here are some interesting facts for you to ponder.

Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have scored 27 Rolex Daytona Prototype (DP) wins since they snagged their first one together in 2007 at Iowa Speedway.

Pruett himself is a five-time Rolex DP champion, by the way.

Guess how many DP races he’s won at Lime Rock? None.

But Pruett knows how to win here; he won the 1988 Trans-Am race in a Merkur XR4Ti at the wet-behind-the-ears age of 28...|

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This year, BMW-powered chassis have led the most laps, 776 of 1,731 laps (45%) in the 11 races so far, while Chevy-powered cars have led 683 (39%)...

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Since 1978, there have been 38 prototype races at Lime Rock; this weekend makes 39:

1978-1981 was the IMSA GTX era
1982-1993 was the IMSA GTP era
1994-1998 was the IMSA WSC era
1999 was the USRRC SR year
2000 was the Grand-Am SR year
2001 was the Grand-Am SRP year
2004-2013 was the ALMS LMP1/LMP2 era
... and 2010-2013 was Grand-Am DP

The list of drivers that have won these Lime Rock prototype races reads like a “Who’s Who” of racing.

In no particular order, victors include (non-comprehensive)...

Al Holbert
Peter Gregg
Brian Redman
Geoff Brabham
Chris Dyson
Max Papis
Butch Leitzinger
Juan Manuel Fangio II
James Weaver
J.J. Lehto
Didier Theys
Bob Tullius
Gil de Ferran
Sarel van der Merwe
Ryan Briscoe
Scott Sharp
Klaus Graff
Price Cobb
Marco Werner
Chip Robinson
Wayne Taylor
Lucas Luhr
Max Angelelli
Allan McNish

The cars? An equally impressive roster (non-comprehensive...

Porsche 935 Turbo
Lola T600
Jaguar XJR-5 and -10
Nissan ZX-T
Porsche 962
Toyota Eagle Mk III
Ferrari 333 SP
Audi R8
Acura/HPD ARX
Lola-Mazda
Riley & Scott Fords & BMWs
Corvette DP
March-Porsche
Porsche RS Spyder...

When you come for prototype races at Lime Rock Park, you’re seeing the crème de la crème, that’s for certain.

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GT Racing at Lime Rock Park

There have been *48 GT-style races at Lime Rock since 1972, under the various sanctioning-body banners of IMSA, USRRC, Grand-Am and ALMS/IMSA, under class names including GT, GT1, GT2, GTO, GTU, GTS et al.

The marque with the most victories – no big shock – is Porsche, with 11. But Chevy is right on the 911’s rear bumper with 10 wins (5 Corvette, 4 Camaro, 1 Monza). The third-most GT wins might surprise you; Mazda, with 7. Next is Nissan’s 5 wins, Pontiac(!) at 4, Oldsmobile with 3, BMW and Ford 2, then single wins for Mercury, Dodge, Audi and Panoz.

*The source material is ultimateracinghistory.com, which though extensive does not list or differentiate classes in its result sheets, so some class wins are going unaccounted for. I used deduced class winners where it was obvious, but in the cases where it was not perfectly clear (for instance, back in the day Mazda RX-7s ran in both GTO and GTU), I did not count them. Editor

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When you're here for the Grand-Am finale, be sure to check out the Prestige BMW Display on the Midway!

Prestige art

 

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Free Concert Friday, Sept. 27

DAVY-KNOWLES-web

Lime Rock Park has organized a free concert the evening of Friday, Sept. 27, showcasing the talents of British blues-jazz-rock guitarist Davy Knowles. The show is 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., to be held in the big concert tent located on Lime Rock’s Upper Infield Midway.

The Davy Knowles show is part of the Grand-Am Championship Weekend Presented by BMW, but you don't have to have tickets to the race to see it. People may begin arriving for the show after 5:00 p.m. at the track’s main gate, 60 White Hollow Road.

A cash wine-and-beer bar will be open, too.

Knowles, 26, draws his musical influences from Dire Straits, Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac founder) and Eric Clapton. Celtic music – Ireland being a figurative hop, skip and a jump away from his Isle of Man birthplace – also tinges his repertoire. Knowles, who has toured recently with Jeff beck and Joe Satriani, has gotten “hot” of late thanks to well-received performances at the South by Southwest Festival, Coachella, Lollapalooza and the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

The Lime Rock show is sponsored by Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Guitars, a marketing partner of Grand-Am.

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