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ASCHENBACH: Lime Rock Debrief

Lawson Aschenbach files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Intense, fast, action-packed. Those are a few words to describe Lime Rock Park, the shortest track on the Pirelli World Challenge schedule. This place always provides a great show for the fans and, sometimes, to the detriment of a race car…

When Blackdog Speed Shop showed up to Lakeville, Conn., we hadn’t missed a beat. Six podiums in six races had put us solidly in the GTS Championship lead.

This track can be disastrous to a championship, but in all honesty we were focused only with the task at hand: give it everything we got and fight to get on the top step of the podium. We want to win. Period.

Because of the compact schedule, we had little time to make sure our Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R was on point. Fortunately, we showed up with a balanced car and only needed minor changes to fine tune the hot rod.

Practice 1 proved our concerns that our mandated weight and ride height were going to make it tough for us to compete at a high level. It was a bit disappointing, but not surprising we were sixth.

Qualifying, only a few minutes later, put us sixth as well. Frustrating, but I never believe we are out of a race. Anything can happen!

When the green flag flew for Race 1, the track was completely wet and everyone, but one car, was on slick tires. I was able to make quick work of a few cars and moved up to third with my sights set on the leaders.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any grip on the track, eventually fell back a few spots and ended up fifth. It wasn’t what we wanted, but we salvaged a decent result. However, I was able to throw in a flier at the end to qualify us second for Race Two.

When the lights went out Saturday, we had a bit too much wheel spin but maintained P2 on track. Heading through the chicane on the first lap, I used my normal line over the first curb, but something seemed off. I felt like I had a tire going down or a suspension failure.

After almost pitting (luckily I didn’t), it seemed that the car came back to me and I continued to battle. We had fallen back to fourth, but things seemed to calm down with the balance and I was able to battle my back to second.

Seven podiums in eight races isn’t too shabby! Plus, my teammate, Tony Gaples, was able to grab third in the GTSA category. He leads that championship, too!

I’m going to switch gears here and talk about the track.

Lime Rock Park is a historic place within the realm of sports car racing. It can be a frustrating place to race due to its length and close quarters racing, but in all honesty it is a great place for the sport.

The fans always come out to watch and support the various series. They show off their own cars in the car corrals and engage with people – young and old – to describe their love for their car, restoring, modifying or racing itself.

It’s a shame to hear that some of the surrounding residents aren’t interested in helping the track regain it’s prominence and legendary ability to create one of the most amazing shows.

I think home owners that buy places near tracks believe the track will go away sooner or later if everyone constantly complains. It’s sad…

Most don’t understand the facility’s need to have flexible schedules to create lasting events that bring out huge crowds. They forget that these crowds help support the surrounding areas and businesses.

Tracks can double as concert venues, bicycle racing circuits and driver’s education facilities. Not to mention many others…

I truly hope that Lime Rock Park continues to be seen on schedules of every sports car series in America and always has its unique way of standing out amongst the crowd.

On to Road America!

Lawson Aschenbach (@lawsonaracing) is a former Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and Pirelli World Challenge champion, driving for Blackdog Speed Shop in Pirelli World Challenge and Michael Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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