Sports car racing and Memorial Day Weekend have gone hand-in-hand at Lime Rock Park since 1967.
That tradition continues this year when the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will headline the weekend (May 23, 24 and car show Sunday), running a pair of two-hour, 30-minute races for the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes on Saturday, May 24. This will be the ninth consecutive year the Continental Tire Challenge will have raced at Lime Rock.
Massachusetts-based Turner Motorsport is a four-time GS winner, winning in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Chris Gleason, Sr., drove in three of those victories, with Bill Auberlen winning in 2006-07.
In ST, CKS Autosport and Freedom Autosport are two-time winners. CKS has with local favorite Eric Curran, who won Lime Rock races with Jamie Holtom in 2006 and 2008.
Lime Rock’s Memorial Day tradition began with the original SCCA Trans-Am championship. Peter Revson won the inaugural race in the Bud Moore #15 Cougar, with two-time winner Mark Donohue, Sam Posey and Parnelli Jones winning in subsequent years.
The IMSA GT found a home at Lime Rock beginning in 1973. Five-time winner Peter Gregg and four-time winner Al Holbert dominated the action over the next two decades as the exciting GTP Prototypes circled the 1.50-mile circuit in less than 50 seconds. P.J. Jones ultimately set the circuit’s all-time qualifying mark in 1993 – running a lap of 43.112 seconds (128.595 mph) – with All-American Racers teammate Juan Fangio II going on to win his second consecutive Lime Rock race in a Toyota Eagle MKIII.
The World Sports Cars took center stage from 1994 through 1998, with winners including Gianpiero Moretti, Wayne Taylor, Max Papis, Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver. Over the following years the weekend featured the Grand-Am Rolex Series, NASCAR K&N East Series, Barber Dodge Pro Series and IMSA Formula BMW, with A.J. Allmendinger, Simona de Silvestro and Andy Lally among the winners.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series returned in 2010, when Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor began a four-year winning streak at Lime Rock for the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing team. Over the past two years, Grand-Am moved to September for its season finale, with the SCCA Trans-Am filling the Memorial Day slot.
Motorsports and Memorial Day Weekend have been linked for decades in a few different regions of the United States. For race fans in the Northeast, the epicenter is Lime Rock Park.
- J.J. O’Malley, Daytona Beach, Fla.