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PUMPELLY: Lime Rock Debrief

Spencer Pumpelly files his latest Sportscar365 column following Lime Rock…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Lime Rock Park, nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Northwestern Conn., is unique in the racing world. It has many features that simply don’t apply to other motorsport venues.

First is it’s location. It’s set in an area that isn’t typical for a race track. Lakeville and it’s surrounding areas have become a favorite retreat for many wealthy New Yorkers thanks to it’s remote feel, great restaurants, and absence of anything resembling a chain hotel or more than one bar of cell service.

Rumor has it, Meryl Streep, Steven Segal, Laura Linney, Placid Domingo, and a (non Alec) Baldwin have homes there.

Because the track is in an area where many powerful people come to get away and relax, the noise issue has been one the track has been dancing around gracefully since it’s inception in 1957.

One caveat has always been that no racing activities could take place on Sunday.

Last winter the track, in order to be competitive in today’s racing environment, asked for the town to allow two Sundays a year for racing.

The town flipped out and this year on my drive in I passed plenty of “Sunday NO Racing” signs in front yards. I’m not used to being on the other end of those signs.

Now I know how those SLC guys near the Glen feel (inside joke there).

Lime Rock is also unique in it’s length. It’s 1.4 miles long. Yes, I didn’t mistype, it’s 1.4. The 1.53 figure is plain wrong.

Back in my days as a Skip Barber instructor I measured it in a 2001 Dodge Neon many times. Even driving the long way around the longest I could get was 1.4 on the odometer.

This means laps are quick. In the three hours I ran on track last Saturday between the Continental Tire and the WeatherTech races I did 186 laps. That’s a lot of repetition to say the least.

The short laps also changes pit stop consideration because with a 54-second lap time a green flag stop will put you a laps down. Road America will be quite the contrast when we race there in two weeks.

The weekend started off well for us when I was able to get Change Racing our first-ever pole. The guys have been getting better with our qualifying pace and every bit counted last weekend. The gap to Andrew Davis was only 0.03 seconds.

The top starting spot was great and we were able to lead for some time.

Corey got in under yellow when a few teams elected to stay out so we lost the lead but he had a great stint getting past some good cars.

When I got back in I found myself in the middle of a tight GTD lead fight. Our race was strong and everyone had high hopes of taking our first podium.

Unfortunately a PC car had other ideas.

Lime Rock has one of the worst chicanes on the planet. They needed to find a way to slow fast cars over the crest of the uphill while still retaining the original layout as an option.

The result is a section that is very slow and unnecessarily tight. Two cars cannot go through there two wide.

I get the need for a slow turn but what they put in there is tighter than the hairpin at Long Beach and is completely inappropriate for big time racing.

It also victimizes innocent cars. Check out what happened to Christina Neilson there this year or Jeroen Bleekmolen in 2013.

Long story short, the PC tried to make it two wide and we had contact that knocked us significantly out of alignment. We faded into oblivion thereafter.

Road America should suit our car very well and hopefully we can have our best result yet.

Spencer Pumpelly (@SpencerPumpelly) is one of America's leading GT racers, driving for Change Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Rennsport One in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.


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