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Vintage vehicles shine at annual Lime Rock Park fall festival

Wed, 13 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Mark your 2011 calendar for this event, right now.

Vintage racing in the Northeast was virtually invented at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. The sport was established by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA), founded in 1958, and remained “clubby” for nearly two generations, as anyone who ever saw Fred Willits drive his Bugatti GP car through the Lime Rock pits with his blue blazer buttoned over his driving suit will remember.

All this changed when the traditional nonspectator VSCCA October weekend was given a steady date on Labor Day weekend. Steve Earle, who created the Monterey Historics in California, came on board for several years, cast a wider net and brought many top West Coast competitors.

Last year, vintage racer Murray Smith stepped up as chairman of the event and with Lime Rock president Skip Barber, the two have presented a spectacular weekend with something for everyone of an automotive persuasion, including vintage racing, a concours, club-car shows, automotive art and automobilia, out-of-print books, a swap meet that fills the entire lower paddock and a Taste of the Litchfield Hills to restore the spirits.

Three days of vintage racing on the 1.53-track Graham Hill called one of the loveliest racetracks in the world drew 324 entries. Brit Ivan Dutton was conducting a North American tour for a group of seven vintage Bugattis from the U.K. that all took part. Labor Day Monday found a calendar filled to overflowing with 19 races plus exhibitions.

For those who learned their colors by rosso corsa red and Bugatti bleu, Group 1 for prewar racers was the race to watch. Peter Giddings's West Coast Alfa Romeo P3, Peter Greenfield in a outstandingly original East Coast Alfa 2.6 Monza and Charles Dean in a Bugatti Type 51 from Dutton's flock traded fast times throughout the weekend before Dean finally prevailed on Monday.

The Sunday in the Park Concours presented nearly 200 automobiles, with only 40 of those coming from the vintage paddock.

The splendid Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Berlinetta of the Collier Collection, a runner-up for Best of Show at Pebble Beach two years ago, received that award while the one-off 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Buegefalte of collector Oscar Davis was presented with the motorsports award. Count Giovani Luarani and Franco Cortese drove the streamlined BMW roadster to sixth overall in the 1940 Mille Miglia.

Don't miss the next one.

By Leigh Dorrington