The Early Years of Trans Am at Lime Rock Park (1967-69)
Photos via barcboys.com
Lime Rock Park hosted the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli for three consecutive years on May 30, when the traditional Memorial Day holiday fell during the week. The midweek dates brought large crowds to the picturesque Connecticut circuit, but also provided schedule conflicts with several of the Trans Am regulars who also competed in the Indianapolis 500.
On Tuesday, May 30, 1967, Trans Am paid its first visit to the Berkshire Hills in the fourth race of its second season of competition. Peter Revson made a winning debut in a Mercury Cougar fielded by Bud Moore. Revson was filling in for Parnelli Jones, who came four laps shy of winning the Indy 500 in a turbine-powered race car.
Mark Donohue finished second, two laps back in the Penske Chevrolet Camaro, followed by Jerry Titus in a Carroll Shelby Ford Mustang. Horst Kwech took fourth overall and first in the Under-Two liter category in an Alfa Romeo.
The four-hour race had 30 entries, with Revson covering 219 laps on the 1.53-mile circuit at an average of 83.651 mph.
The following year, Memorial Day fell on a Thursday. Donohue captured the pole and then led all 171 laps of the three-hour race, averaging 87.21 mph.
Jerry Titus took second in a Mustang, two laps back, followed by Revson in an AMC Javelin. Reigning NASCAR Grand National champion David Pearson filled in for Parnelli Jones in a Ford Mustang, but lost oil pressure 22 laps into the contest and placed 20th – and last. Tony Adamowicz took fourth overall, winning the Under-Two liter class.
Friday, May 30, 1968, again saw several of the Trans Am stars missing Lime Rock to compete at Indianapolis. Carroll Shelby called on a local driver – Sam Posey – to fill in for Revson in his Mustang, and the resident of nearby Sharon, Connecticut went on to win.
Swede Savage – subbing for Parnelli Jones in Bud Moore’s Mustang – took second in the two-hour, 30-minute race, 51.1-seconds back. Third went to another fill-in, with Bob Johnson at the wheel of the Sunoco Camaro normally piloted by Mark Donohue. Under-2 honors again went to “A-to-Z” Adamowicz, driving a Porsche.
For 1970, Lime Rock avoided the Indianapolis 500 conflict by racing on May 9, won by Parnelli Jones. Briar Motorsports Park in Loudon, N.H. held the 1970 Memorial Day weekend race, won on a Sunday by Donohue – who had finished second at Indy the previous day.
The following year, the Memorial Day holiday moved to the final Monday of May, paving the way for new holiday traditions.
The Trans Am tradition continues at Lime Rock Park this Memorial Day weekend (May 27-30). For tickets visit: Memorial Day Classic – Lime Rock Park