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Lime Rock on track for Labor Day vintage festival

Tue, 21 Aug 2012

Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park doesn’t claim to have the biggest combination Concours d’Elegance and historic racing weekend in the United States, but it does have something that the recently concluded Pebble Beach and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion can’t match: All the action takes place in the same venue. And as any veteran of the annual traffic-clogged Monterey Peninsula extravaganza can attest, that’s a definite plus. But Historic Festival 30 presented by Jaguar isn’t just about convenience. The quality of both the racing and “Sunday in the Park” concours promise to be world-class, as evidenced by this year’s guest of honor, Sir Stirling Moss.

“We’re very pleased to have Sir Stirling be part of our 30th historic festival,” says event chairman Murray Smith, who also created the Louis Vuitton Classic at Rockefeller Center, “and we’re pleased to have number of his former race cars in attendance as well.”

Included will be the Vanwall VW5 that Moss and Tony Brooks co-drove to victory in the 1957 British Grand Prix; Moss’ 1958 Argentine Grand Prix-winning Cooper; the Sebring-winning OSCA MT4 he piloted in 1954; and assorted Moss-provenance Jaguars and other marques, including a Tipo 61 Birdcage Maserati. Fans will also have the opportunity to meet and greet the Knighted One in person, and those lucky enough to score a first-come, first-served ticket will enjoy a private dinner at the track with their hero on Saturday evening.

Friday, Saturday and Monday are dedicated to practice and racing, with 317 historic entries packed into 10 diverse groups ranging from prewar to big bore. A unique highlight will be a fleet of 1966 to 1983 F1 cars from the Historic Grand Prix organization. And if you missed BMW North America president Ludwig Willisch thrashing his 1975 3.0 CSL around Laguna, you’ll get another chance at Lime Rock. Given the track’s natural amphitheater layout, you might want to pack earplugs along with your binoculars, lawn chair and camera.

Sunday is all about the concours. The track’s main straight will be limited to 200 curated vehicles, some of which, such as Andrew Benenson’s 1949 Cisitalia 202 SC, are Pebble Beach veterans. And yes, Sir Stirling will be one of the judges. The remainder of the historic 1.5-mile circuit will be lined with more than 400 attendees’ vintage and special-interest cars. The weekend will also include a race-car parade through Lime Rock’s neighboring villages, featuring cars that will compete in both the historics and concours. By coincidence (or maybe not?) the parade route is 17 miles long. For tickets and more information, go to www.limerock

By Don Klein