28 Apr

Four Hands on the Wheel: An Exclusive Screening presented by NEAM

Proceeds to benefit New England Auto Museumscreening

The story of the legendary winning partnership
between Mark Donohue & Roger Penske

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 7:30pm
Doors open at 6:45pm

Buy Tickets

VIP Ticket Bundle

On the 50th Anniversary of Mark Donohue’s unprecedented 1968 eight-win Trans-Am Championship season, New England Auto Museum is hosting an evening motorsports enthusiasts won’t want to miss!

This captivating 47-minute 1969 film chronicles the very special relationship between Roger Penske and Mark Donohue, arguably one of the most successful pairings in motorsports history. The film features rare footage of both Penske and Donohue behind the wheel in a wide variety of legendary machines including the Zerex Special, Corvette Grand Sport and Chaparral as well as Penske Racing entries in Can-Am, Trans-Am, USRRC and more. Plus, intimate interviews with both men give insights into this remarkable team.

The evening will also include:

Historic Penske racecars on display:
•  1966 Daytona and Sebring-winning L88 Sunoco Corvette
•  1968 Sunoco Camaro driven by Mark Donohue and Sam Posey

A panel discussion with the people who were there:
•  John “Woody” Woodard: Penske Racing Chief Mechanic
•  Chuck Cantwell: Team Manager of Penske Trans-Am Racing
•  Judy Stropus: Legendary team timer/scorer (before computers)
•  Kevin Mackay: Restorer and owner of the #9 1966 Penske L88 Corvette
•  Irwin Kroiz: Owner of #16 1968 Sunoco Camaro
•  Sam Posey – Famed race-car driver & TV personality; driver of the No. 16 1968 Penske Camaro

Silent & live auction of racing memorabilia and never-before-seen photos

Tickets: $47
VIP Meet & Greet Ticket Bundle: $97
Includes:
6pm pre-show reception
Meet & Greet with the panel
Merch item

Sponsored by:
 

Proceeds will benefit:

22 Mar

The Winning Daytona 24 & Sebring 12 Drivers Racing in PWC Lime Rock Opener, May 26-27

lr171LAKEVILLE, Conn. – The winning drivers of January’s IMSA Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and last weekend’s IMSA Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – the brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor – will be racing in Connecticut at Lime Rock Park in the USAC Pirelli World Challenge series, the opening event of Lime Rock’s 2017 season, Memorial Day weekend May 26-27.

Ricky (l.) & Jordan Taylor are SprintX-ing with the Cadillac PWC team on Memorial Day weekend

Ricky (l.) & Jordan Taylor are SprintX-ing with the Cadillac PWC team on Memorial Day weekend

The Bros. Taylor, sons of prototype and GT racing icon Wayne Taylor, are longtime General Motors stalwarts, even at the tender ages of 28 (Ricky) and 26 (Jordan). They race the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R prototype for their father’s team, Wayne Taylor Racing, in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

At Lime Rock, the Taylor Boys have been contracted to join Cadillac V-Performance Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell and Michael Cooper in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GT races. O’Connell and Cooper drive the #3 and #8 Cadillac ATS-V.R, respectively.

New for 2017, the two Lime Rock PWC GT races will be the SprintX 60-minute format: Two drivers per car, with a mandatory driver and tire change at 25 minutes.

O'Connell's PWC #3 Cadillac ATS-V.R

O’Connell’s PWC #3 Cadillac ATS-V.R

The Cadillac driver pairings haven’t been finalized, but word on the street is that Jordan will be O’Connell’s co-driver, and Ricky will be with Cooper.

“I’m really looking forward to the PWC season,” O’Connell, 55, said. “We had one bad weekend last year that really cost us, and I’ve been training hard all winter looking for some redemption. Ricky and Jordan are doing a great job proving themselves on the world stage, especially with these great Daytona and Sebring wins. I am very much looking forward to working with them this season in the SprintX races.”

“All of the Cadillac fans should be as excited as I am to have Jordan and Ricky with us for the SprintX races this year,” Cooper, 27, said. “Jordan has tested with us numerous times the last few years, so I’m sure they’ll slot right in and make their presence known. They are a perfect fit for Cadillac Racing’s SprintX program.”

“I am extremely excited to share the ATS-V.R with the guys,” Ricky Taylor said. “I have always been a huge fan of the ATS-V.R program and of Johnny and Michael, so getting a chance to contribute to the team and hopefully another championship is a great opportunity. Lime Rock is an extra special one for me as I have won there three times and it was my first professional win while driving with Max Angelelli.”

“I’m really looking forward to getting back in the Cadillac ATS-V.R,” Jordan Taylor said. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Lime Rock. It’s a track that I’ve always enjoyed… a true, old school American road course. The layout is very enjoyable for a driver and presents a big challenge for the engineers.”

In last year’s two “regular” PWC GT races at Lime Rock, O’Connell had a third and a 17th, while Cooper finished eighth and 14th.

Cooper's PWC #8 Cadillac ATS-V.R

Cooper’s PWC #8 Cadillac ATS-V.R

Purchase general admission tickets at a discounted pre-event price now at limerock.com. Mohegan Sun Fan Hospitality and Personal Cabana passes are available, too. GA tickets are $23 for Friday, $45 for Saturday, and $60 for Fri./Sat./Sun. (the Sunday Royals Car Show) weekend.

Fan Note 1: For all Lime Rock Race Weekends, veterans and active military are free; youths 16 and under w/adult free; parking free; paddock access free

Fan Note 2: For Memorial Day weekend, immediate family of vets and active military also free

Courtesy Lime Rock Park

17 Nov

It’s a high-octane night with NBC’s F1 Racing commentators on November 28 at The Ridgefield Playhouse

Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett reporting from the Monaco Grand Prix in May  Photo NBCSN

Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett reporting from the Monaco Grand Prix in May
Photo NBCSN

Ridgefield, Conn. – After a sold out evening in 2015, NBC’s F1 Racing commentary team are set to return to The Ridgefield Playhouse. Danbury Porsche will present Inside F1: 2016 Year in Review with Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett on Monday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m. For 65 years, F1 racing, the pinnacle of motorsport, has thrilled audiences all over the world. Drawing on a rich heritage that has a global resonance associated with precision, excellence, innovation, bravery, and no shortage of glamour, it has introduced us to iconic legends, fueled some of the greatest rivalries in sport and provided high-octane theatre-on-wheels.

Outside of the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup, Formula One is the most watched sport in the world. This up close and personal night will take you behind the scenes of the upscale race weekends on the day after the final race of the season! This multimedia event, including behind the scenes footage, will review the 2016 season and take you into the world of F1 with insight, humor and some rare stories. VIP tickets include a pre-event cocktail party from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., meet and greet with the commentators and a signed limited edition picture. This exciting night is partially underwritten by 109 Cheese & Wine and Moffly Media.

Formula 1 racing’s popularity has grown many times over in recent years. It isn’t that hard to see the appeal that the sport has to fans of all ages. F1 racing has gone from being an isolated sport for wealthy people mainly in Europe to an international phenomenon. Formula One is coming off its most-watched season ever for a single cable network, averaging 385,000 viewers for its 12 races on NBCSN.

For tickets ($50, VIP Meet and Greet Add-on $50), call or visit the box office at The Ridgefield Playhouse, (203) 438-5795. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a nonprofit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT; www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org

Courtesy Lisa Barrett, Ridgefields Hamlet Hub

Mercedes F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Niki Rosberg have been locked in a battle for the championship all season, including this last lap collision in Austria in July  Photo Daily Mail

Mercedes F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Niki Rosberg have been locked in a battle for the championship all season, including this last lap collision in Austria in July
Photo Daily Mail

17 Aug

N.A.R.T.’s 60th Anniversary Celebration; Special Movie Screening in Norwalk September 28th

Paul Newman with Luigi Chinetti Jr. at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1974 Archived Photo

Paul Newman with N.A.R.T Team Manager Dick Fritz at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1974 Archived Photo

Norwalk, Conn. – On Wednesday, September 28th at 6:30 PM, the New England Auto Museum will host a special one-night celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.) featuring film presentations on the Ferrari team’s Bonneville speed record attempts in 1974 and the development of the Ferrari N.A.R.T. Spyder at the Stepping Stones Multimedia Gallery in Norwalk. The goal is to raise funds for the nonprofit New England Auto Museum, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a permanent facility for display and education in automotive arts and technology.

In September 1974, with N.A.R.T.’s short racing season over, Luigi Chinetti Jr., son of Ferrari legend Luigi Chinetti, decided it would be fun to go to Bonneville in an attempt to break some old speed records; some by Ab Jenkins had stood for over 35 years. To do this would entail taking three cars, and a pit crew. Having raised about $40,000 in sponsorship deals, it was a viable proposition. Two Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona’s, one as a spare car, and a Le Mans prototype 512M, were dispatched together with an eclectic mix of drivers, 2-time Formula One world champion Graham Hill, actor Paul Newman and then current N.A.R.T. driver Milt Minter joined Chinetti Jr., to discover what could be achieved under the direction of team manager Dick Fritz.

Speed record breaking Ferrari 512M Le Mans Prototype on the Salt Flats Archived Photo

Speed record breaking Ferrari 512M Le Mans Prototype on the Salt Flats
Archived Photo

There were two courses at Bonneville: the straight-line course and also a 10-mile oval. It was the latter that was being used, with its straights of just over two miles in length, and the curves at each end that, through necessity were very long and gradual. The shorter distance records were attempted first in the 512M, and then progressively longer ones in the 365 GTB4, each record falling as the string of drivers took his turn at the wheel. It all seemed surreal, having two cars circulating in the middle of nowhere, coming in for rapid refueling, and driver change-over, and at the same time being filmed by CBS-TV. The only unfortunate thing was that the 24-hour record remained unbroken, as the 365 GTB4’s front right tire burst, affecting the suspension. A half-hour’s work to rectify the problem took the car out of the equation for breaking the record, so the team gave up the unequal struggle. After the event, Chinetti Jr. said, “It was easy to see how the old record had stood for so long.”

Denise McCluggage driving the N.A.R.T. Spyder at Sebring 12-Hour in 1967 Archived Photo

Denise McCluggage driving the N.A.R.T. Spyder at Sebring 12-Hour in 1967
Archived Photo

In addition to the Bonneville film, the program will include documentary footage by Peter Leahey about the development of the legendary N.A.R.T. Spyder. Luigi Chinetti’s influence with Enzo Ferrari was such that he convinced the factory to build a series of 10 275 GTB4/Spyders with bodies by Scaglietti which became known as the N.A.R.T. Spyders. The first N.A.R.T. Spyder was shipped to America in February 1967, just in time for the Sebring 12-hour race where it was driven by Denise McCluggage and Pinkie Rollo. They finished in a respectable 17th place and second in class behind a Shelby GT350, a good result considering that, mechanically, it was a standard production specification car. Of the ten N.A.R.T. Spyders built, the McCluggage car was the only one raced before being sold to a customer. Initially painted in pale yellow, it became even more well-known later on as the car Faye Dunaway drove in the “Thomas Crowne Affair” with Steve McQueen in the lead role. The car was resprayed maroon for the movie, with McQueen famously calling it “one of those red Italian things”.

Steve McQueen with the N.A.R.T .Spyder in “The Thomas Crowne Affair” Archived Photo

Steve McQueen with the N.A.R.T .Spyder in “The Thomas Crowne Affair”
Archived Photo

Complementing the Bonneville and N.A.R.T. Spyder film presentations, the event will include a panel of former N.A.R.T. team members who will share reminiscences on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the team’s formation in 1957. At this writing, this group includes former mechanics for N.A.R.T. Roger Colson and Francois Sicard, and it will be emceed by Jerry Cotrone, ex-Chinetti Motors employee and curator of the Malcolm Pray Achievement Center in Bedford, N.Y.

This special one-night commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the N.A.R.T. Racing Team will take place Wednesday, September 28th from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres, provided by Rive Bistro Restaurant of Westport, will be served in the hour before the show. Weather permitting, the actual Ferrari 512M that went to Bonneville will be on display in the museum’s courtyard. Location will be the Stepping Stones Museum Multi-Media Gallery at 303 West Avenue in Norwalk (Mathews Park). Sponsors of the event include Dragone Auctions, Hagerty Insurance, Pray Auto Body, Pray Achievement Center, Spacefitters Logistics & Technology Group and Rive Bistro Restaurant. Tickets will be $20 per person and space is limited to 150 attendees. Tickets can be purchased at www.neautomuseum.org

Article includes excerpts from “N.A.R.T. A Concise History of the North American Racing Team 1957 to 1983” by Terry O’Neil

N.A.R.T. Bonneville Record Runs
September 23 – 24, 1974

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16 Jul

Exciting Changes for Lime Rock Park’s Historic Festival 34 September 1 – 5

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LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Since 1983, Lime Rock Park has held its annual celebration of historic motoring significance by combining authentic-car vintage racing with a prestigious Concours d’Elegance. It’s an event unique to North America in that the racing and the concours are all on one property during one major vintage and historic event.

The historic racing on Lime Rock’s classic 1.5-mile, 7-turn circuit on Friday, Saturday and Labor Day Monday sandwiches the Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance, held on the track’s 2,200-foot Sam Posey Straight.

In the past decade the Historic Festival has added a 17-mile race car parade-and-rally over local roads and through three town centers, ending in a community street fair in nearby Falls Village, as well as creating a 1,000-car Gathering of the Marques car show that’s held concomitant with the concours.

New for 2016’s Historic Festival is an automobile auction, “Cars for Enthusiasts.” Conducted by famed New York City house Guernsey’s, the auction will begin immediately following the September 4 Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance awards ceremony.

“As a vintage automobile racer, concours participant, concours judge and enthusiastic sports car fan, I have watched the growth of Lime Rock’s wonderful Historic Festival,” said Arlan Ettinger, Guernsey’s president. “It is our hope that the auction helps to make this terrific event even better.”

Festival Chairman Murray Smith has also confirmed a number of other elements for this year’s Historic Festival 34:

► The Festival welcomes a presenting sponsor, the Prestige Family of Fine Cars, the leading vehicle dealer network in the Tri-State Region with more than 50 years of service to the car-buying public in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The dealer group retails a number of marques including BMW, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Scion, Toyota and Volkswagen, out of Wappinger’s Falls and Middletown, N.Y.; Paramus, Mahwah and Ramsey, N.J.; and Stamford, Conn.

Historic Festival 34’s Honored Guests are the dynamic duo of John Morton and Pete Brock. Among Brock’s numerous accomplishments is, of course, his designing the Daytona Cobra Coupe and founding his wildly successful Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE)… for which Morton was asked to drive and together, they won prodigiously between 1969 and 1972 in BRE Datsun’s in C-Production and 2.5-liter Trans-Am. Morton will race a BRE Datsun 240Z over the weekend, too

New-for-2016 Tin Top race group has already burgeoned to 20+ entries, with more expected

► Another of this year’s nine race groups are the wildly popular cars from the Historic Trans-Am organization; authentic pony cars that raced in Trans-Am in the iconic 1966 – 1972 period

► Along with the expected 250+ entrants in the Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance will be one of the six Duesenbergs (to be announced soon) that have won Pebble Beach’s Best of Show since 1969.

Find more information at www.limerockhistorics.com

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Courtesy Lime Rock Park Historic Festival 34

10 Jul

Lime Rock Calling for Saloons & ‘Tin Tops’ to join Historic Festival 34 September 1 – 5

LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Historic Festival 34 Chairman Murray Smith announced an all-new – and likely a first for an authentic and significant U.S. historic racing weekend – race group for Lime Rock Park’s 34th Historic Festival, September 1-5, 2016. “I’m sounding the clarion call for owners and drivers of saloons and ‘tin tops’ to join us in early September to create a fabulous grid of pre-1970 racing sedans,” Smith says. “This rare race group will be in the manner of the cars in Goodwood’s ‘St. Mary’s Trophy’; Ford Galaxies, BMWs, Mini Coopers, Lotus Cortinas, Anglias, Alfa Romeo 1600s, Jaguar Mk2s, Hillman Imps and the like.”

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A “St. Mary’s Trophy” race from Goodwood. Image courtesy Goodwood R&R

“I imagine this race group will be extremely popular with the spectators, not to mention the other 250-odd racing entrants.”

Smith, who has chaired Lime Rock’s long-standing vintage extravaganza since HF27 (2009), says the Festival already attracts a handful of saloons that are sprinkled throughout existing race groups but now wants tin-top drivers to have a group of their own.

“We might be a bit relaxed this first year with regard to makes and models, but we hope to attract a wonderfully wide range of suitable cars,” Smith said. (See list below.)

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Click image for Goodwood’s St. Mary’s Trophy race footagee

Entrants are encouraged to contact Murray Smith at murray.smith@ctspeed.com with queries and/or for more information, as well as Historic Festival 34 Executive Administrator Jeanette Veitenheimer, historics@limerock.com. The Entry Form can be found at limerockhistorics.com/entrants/participationform/

Historic Festival 34 “Tin-Top” Race Group, Eligible Cars
Including, but not necessarily limited to:

Alfa Romeo GT, GTA, 1600, 1900, Giulia
Austin A40/A35
BMW 502, 700, Ti, 1800 TiSA
Borgward Isabella
Chevy Corvair/Yenko Corvair
Datsun 510
DKW F2
Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant
Fiat Abarth, 124, 1500S
Ford Cortina, Lotus Cortina, Escort, Zephyr, Zodiac, Galaxy, Thunderbolt, Falcon, Anglia, Prefect
Hillman Imp, Minx
Isuzu Bellett
Jaguar MkI/MkII/MkVII
Lancia Fulvia, Aurelia
Mercedes 220, 300
MG Magnette (ZA/ZB/MkIII/MkIV)
Mini (all)
Morris Minor 1000
Peugeot 203
Renault R8, Gordini, 4CV
Riley 1.5
Rover P4
Saab 96
Standard Ten, Vanguard
Sunbeam Rapier
Volvo 1800, P544, Amazon 122 S
Westminster A105
Wolseley 1500

About the Historic Festival: Since 1983, the East Coast’s premier vintage racing and concours event has been the Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park, held annually over Labor Day weekend. No other venue in the U.S. has three days of on-track racing sandwiching a prestigious concours event, all on the same property, all at the same time. Historic Festival 34 is Thursday, September 1 (17-mile Vintage Race & Sports Car Parade) through Monday, September 5, while the Sunday in the Park Concours d’ Elegance & Gathering of the Marques is September 4. Schedule: Thursday, Vintage Race Car Parade; Friday, Practice & Qualifying; Saturday, 18 races and demonstration laps; Sunday in the Park Concours; Monday, 18 races and demonstration laps. Visit limerockhistorics.com

Volvo Amazon 122S at Lime Rock Park Historic Festival

Volvo Amazon 122S at Lime Rock Park Historic Festival

 

01 Dec

Lime Rock Park Announces 2016 Schedule, Discounted Holiday Ticket Pricing

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LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Lime Rock Park has announced their 2016 Event Schedule, providing links to the Christmas and holiday discounted general admission ticket pages, and this link to the online Lime Rock Merchandise Store.

2016 Schedule: Four major spectator events (up from three in 2014 and 2015)

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May 27-29, Pirelli World Challenge on traditional Memorial Day Weekend
Pirelli World Challenge (GT, GTA, GTS, GT Cup), world debut of SCCA Pro Racing United States F4 Championship series, and the Seventh Annual Royals Garage Sunday Car Show.

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July 22-23, Northeast Grand Prix IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar & Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge
WeatherTech championship: Prototype Challenge, GTLM & GTD; Continental championship: Grand Sport & Street Tuner. New for 2016 is the return of the GTLM class (good news for the Corvette fans in the Northeast, and they are legion). New factory efforts by Ford (the new GT), Lamborghini, Lexus and Dodge have joined the fray. NEW for IMSA 2016: Teens 16 and under admitted FREE with accompanying adult.

lrp4September 2-5, Historic Festival 34 & Sunday in the Park Concours
250 vintage and historic race cars, 1,200 concours and collector cars, iconic Honored Guests and special collections. Each year’s Festival is always highly anticipated. The theme, honored guests and special collections will be announced closer to the event.

lrp5September 24, Ferrari Challenge North America Trofeo Pirelli presented by Singha Beer.
The Ferrari 458C Evo is a terrific racing machine. A squadron of them at full chat at Lime Rock is not to be missed.

General Admission Tickets: One example of how big the Christmas and holiday discounts are: Would one rather pay $54 for a Pirelli World Challenge Weekend ticket now or $75 in May? Yep, that’s what we thought…

With much of Lime Rock’s major renovation project (“Road to 60”) complete, Lime Rock Park is expecting an exceptional season in 2016.

More information at www.limerock.com

Article & Photos courtesy Lime Rock Park

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23 Nov

First Connecticut Auto Race: 1899 or 1900? Historians Disagree

Hiram Percy Maxim driving a gasoline powered Columbia Mark VIII with designer Fred Law

Hiram Percy Maxim driving a gasoline powered Columbia Mark VIII with designer Fred Law

New Haven, Conn. – There seems to be general agreement among auto historians that the first closed course auto race in Connecticut was held at Branford Park in New Haven, a half-mile dirt track built for horse racing. The race meeting had two feature events, one for three-wheeled vehicles and one for four-wheeled vehicles, both being run in three heats. The date of the race meeting is generally cited as July 25, 1899. This date is reflected in several sources including Charles Betts’ Auto Racing Winners, 1895-1947: An Historical Reference Manual of American Automobile Racing (1948) and Allan Brown’s The History of America’s Speedways, Past and Present (2003).

In a 2008 article focusing on Connecticut race tracks, Brown clearly stated that, “Connecticut’s first recorded auto race was at Branford Park, a horse-racing track in New Haven, on July 25, 1899.” This would seem to indicate that Brown was very confident regarding the date.

However, more recent research has turned up evidence that this date may be off by a full year and in fact the Branford Park race more likely took place on July 25, 1900. This possibility was recently discovered by Donald Capps who is chairman of the Society of Automotive Historians Motor Sports History Section. Capps was digging into the very early automotive competitions in the United States for a possible paper on these events during the Late Victorian Era, 1895 to 1901, and sensed that there might be a problem with the date of the Branford Park race.

During his research, Capps discovered contemporary articles in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune on an event held at Branford Park in 1900. Initially, he thought this was a later event, but the winner listed by Betts was Hiram Percy Maxim in a Columbia — who was also listed as the winner of the first five-mile heat for four-wheeled vehicles in both the New York and Chicago papers.

In his article on the subject Capps states “This would strongly suggest that the Branford Park event took place on 25 July 1900 – and not in 1899 as the Betts and Brown dated the event. I am at a loss as how to explain that both Brown and the Betts getting the date wrong by an entire year, although Brown seemed to sense, at least at one point, either some doubt or at least ambivalence regarding the date.”

It is interesting to note that both the Times and the Tribune articles state that the Branford Park meeting was, “The first automobile race meet ever held on a race track in this country,” as the Times stated it. The Tribune article had the sub-heading, “Track Racing for Motor Vehicles Inaugurated in America,” making the same claim as the Times. Capps goes on to state “Of course, there is the awkward problem of the race meeting held at Narragansett Park in Cranston, Rhode Island – another horse-racing track – in September 1896, which would tend to cast doubt on this claim. The race featured 7 entrants and was won by a Riker Electric car. In addition, there was also the event run in October 1899 on a circular dirt horse track at Galesburg Illinois District Fair Grounds, which was essentially a match race scheduled for 50 miles. The race between F.B. Snow in a Duryea and E.V.D. Morris in a Winton was halted at 15 miles when Snow’s vehicle dropped out with ignition problems.”

First U.S. auto race on a track at Narragansett Park, Cranston, RI September 1896

First U.S. auto race on a track at Narragansett Park, Cranston, RI September 1896

In any case, there seems to be no doubt that the Branford Park race was the first closed course auto race in Connecticut but historians should note, thanks to Don Capps’ research, the actual date of the race was July 25, 1900.

According to historian Allen Brown, the second auto racing venue in Connecticut also began as an active horse track, Charter Oak Park in Hartford. It was larger than Branford Park, a one-mile dirt oval. Charter Oak Park featured auto and horse racing from 1904 to 1929.

Connecticut has had 31 oval tracks. Only 3 are still in operation. Stafford Motor Speedway, the oldest, is located at the Stafford Springs Fairgrounds. The half-mile dirt oval was built as a horse track in 1892, and the first auto race ran in October 1934. There is no record of any auto racing at Stafford again until weekly stock car racing started there in 1948. The original dirt track was paved with asphalt in 1967 and it has remained in operation ever since featuring NASCAR Modified racing.

The second-oldest active oval track is Thompson International Speedway in the state’s northeast corner. Built in 1940 as a 5/8-mile asphalt track, it was one of the first in the country to be built as a paved track. Most paved tracks built before 1945, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, started out as dirt tracks. Thompson Speedway also had different configurations of road courses—the first known in the state—in operation from 1952 to about 1978. Part of one of the old road courses is still visible as part of the pit area. A little-known fact about Thompson is that it is the only Connecticut track ever to host what is now known as NASCAR Sprint Cup races (originally called NASCAR Grand National). The third active oval track is Waterford Speedbowl, built as a dirt track in 1951 and converted to a paved track a month later.

Opening day at Thompson Speedway May 26, 1940

Opening day at Thompson Speedway May 26, 1940

Lime Rock Park in northwest Connecticut is the only active road course left in the state. Lime Rock is a 1.53-mile paved road course with eight turns. The track, which opened 58 years ago, on April 18, 1957, has been the site of numerous major road-racing events and was the favorite track of late actor and Westport resident Paul Newman.
Sources: Donald Capps, Society of Automotive Historians
Allen E. Brown, “A Short History of Connecticut Race Tracks” www.ctvisit.com
Archived Photos

Early American license plate featuring Hiram Maxim & the Columbia Mark VIII

Early American license plate featuring Hiram Maxim & the Columbia Mark VIII

01 Nov

Entry List Announced for Classic 24 at Daytona presented by IMSA November 12 – 15 Features 174 Race Cars

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The entry list for the 2015 Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA, November 12 – 15, has been officially announced and features 174 race cars and a current tally of 300 drivers from around the world.

“We have gone on record recently in saying that the entry list for the second edition of the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA exceeded even our expectations and hopefully the motorsports world will agree,” said HSR President David Hinton. “The caliber of the historic race cars and the massive mix of legendary stars and historic sports car racing drivers is second to none. This is truly an amazing representation of historic sports car racing machines and the men and women who compete in them and we can’t wait to get back to Daytona in just a few short weeks.”

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In total, the 2015 Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA features entered teams from 15 different countries on four continents.

The diverse background of the international drivers turning out for the Classic 24 Hour should be equally impressive. While minimal additional entries will be accepted – HSR currently has dozens of hopefuls on a wait list – all teams will be able to add drivers to their officially entered race cars in the weeks leading up to the race. A lineup of drivers that is already packed with past and current sports car racing stars will no doubt grow over the next month.

The list of current and legendary drivers confirmed for the Classic 24 includes Jochen Mass, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Gijs Van Lennep, Jürgen Barth, Andy Wallace, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Eric Curran, Leh Keen, Scott Sharp, Jim Pace, Gunnar Jeanette, Dieter Quester, Didier André, Jean Marc Gounon, Jules Gounon, Zak Brown, Richard Dean, Jeff Zwart, Cooper MacNeil, Shane Lewis, Jack Baldwin, Mike Skeen and many more.

The equally impressive racing machines these drivers and other Classic 24 competitors will race in the Daytona event is a rolling collection of top sports cars and prototypes from the past 50 years.

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The Classic 24 features six period-correct run groups rotating through a full 24 hours of racing on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course. The run groups, which include various classes of similar-era race cars, each take to the track four times throughout the 24 hours. The competitors in each group covering the most total distance in the shortest amount of time in their group’s four sessions will be “crowned” Classic 24 at Daytona champions.

Group A – 1960 – 1972: The oldest and perhaps most memory-stirring division, Group A features such legendary race cars as the Ford GT40, Lola T70, Chevron B8, Ferrari 365 GTB, Lotus Elan, Alfa Romeo GT Jr., several 1960s-era Corvettes and Mustangs, including a Shelby GT350, and a strong field of early Porsche 911s. A debuting entry not frequently seen in the United States is the French-built Matra MS630.

Group B – 1973 – 1982: Evoking the same emotion and memories of Group A with a little more turbocharged power and wide-body aerodynamics, Group B has attracted four Porsche 935s, six BMW CSLs, two Greenwood Corvettes, a Dekon Monza, several Porsche 911 RSRs and Carreras and big-bore Mustangs, Camaros and Corvettes. This group also features several of the ultra-quick and classic Chevron Lola and March open-cockpit sports prototype race cars.

Group C – 1983 – 1993: The prime of the GTP and Group C era is at the heart of this run group. A strong lineup of six Porsche 962s will share the class spotlight with two Jaguar XJR-5s, a Jaguar XJR-7 and a Porsche Fabcar. Several production-based race cars are also in Group C as is the debuting Aston Martin AMR-1 prototype that raced at Le Mans.

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Group D – 1994 – 2002: Historic but familiar, the highlight machines in Group D include several Riley & Scott Mk IIIs and Daytona Prototypes, a Lola B2K, Crawford DP03 and GT Porsches, Corvettes, Vipers and even a TVR T400R. A debuting entry of note in this class is the Saleen S7R GT1.

Group E – 2003 – 2012: This group lets ALMS and Le Mans prototypes that couldn’t race at Daytona in their day a chance to take to the high banks. Two Audi R8s, a pair of Pescarolo 01 LMPs and a Porsche RS Spyder highlight the group that also includes three Oreca FLM09s and several different Daytona Prototypes. GT cars are plentiful too and include several Porsche 996, 997 and 991 models, two LMS Audi R8s and a Camaro, Ferrari F430 and Nissan GTR. Another entry not frequently seen in the U.S. is the debuting BMW Alpina B6 GT3.

Group F – HSR Cars: This group produced some of the closest and most competitive racing in last year’s inaugural Classic 24 at Daytona. Home to HSR classes that are not represented in the other five other groups, Group F also lets competitors with race cars that were never eligible to compete at Daytona a chance to build a little history of their own on the legendary track in the Classic 24. Offering a mix of machinery from six different decades, this group is also home to the oldest car in the Classic 24, a 1962 Lotus Super 7.

The entry list for the 2015 Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA is available by clicking here.

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Of interest to Connecticut race fans will be the eye-catching 2007 Pescarolo Judd LMP of David Porter, of Darien. Porter challenged the Rogers Motorsports Audi team for the 2014 Classic 24 Hour win and has no intention of coming up short this year.

“To win the race is the hopeful accomplishment, that’s it,” Porter said. “We had the fastest car in every session last year and, unfortunately, I didn’t put on my best driving performance and screwed up. We ended up four laps down and, even with a car that fast, you can’t make back four laps. I want to redeem myself in my own mind as much as anything else. I’m looking forward to this so much. Sitting on that grid at 4:30 in the morning under the lights is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.”

Story & Photos Courtesy HSR & IMSA

About HSR: Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) was formed in the mid-1970s with an event at Road Atlanta. There was one goal then and it remains true today: to celebrate the race cars from our past. As a “time machine” of sights and sounds, HSR provides a venue for competitors and spectators alike to share in the wonderful history and excitement created by the cars that competed at race tracks around the world. HSR currently sanctions seven vintage and historic racing events at some of the world’s most renowned race tracks, including Road Atlanta, Sebring International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and the Grand Prix of the Americas. The complete schedule and full event information can be found on HSR’s website at www.HSRRace.com. The Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, presented by IMSA, has a dedicated website at www.Classic24hour.com. HSR and the Classic 24 are also on Facebook and Twitter – in addition to the HSR YouTube channel.

About IMSA: The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) was originally founded in 1969 with a long and rich history in sports car racing. As presenting sponsor of the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, IMSA embraces that history by supporting all involved in returning iconic race cars and drivers that have been responsible for many great moments throughout decades of IMSA-sanctioned competition to the race track. Today, IMSA is the sanctioning body of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the premier sports car racing series in North America. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA – a company within the NASCAR Holdings group – is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected WeatherTech Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. For more information, visit www.IMSA.com.

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14 Aug

Make It Six: Historic Festival 33 adds Lauren’s ‘Count Trossi’ SSK to Special Mercedes Collection at Lime Rock Sept. 6

Photo by Michael Furman

Photo by Michael Furman

LAKEVILLE, CT – Lime Rock Park Historic Festival 33 Chairman Murray Smith scored another coup by securing yet another historic Mercedes competition car to join the five already confirmed; he’s arranged for one of the very few remaining 1928-1932 Mercedes-Benz SSKs to join the already outstanding display.

In particular, it’s the streamlined SSK built for Count Carlo Felice Trossi. The spectacular “Trossi SSK,” owned by Ralph Lauren, won best of show at the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the 2007 Concorso D’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

The SSK’s extreme performance and numerous competitive successes made it one of the most highly regarded sports cars of its era. Fewer than six entirely original SSK models remain. The SSK was the last Mercedes-Benz designed by Ferdinand Porsche before he left to found his own car company.

As of today, here’s the outstanding collection of Mercedes competition cars that will be at Historic Festival 33, September 4-7…

  • The “722” 300 SLR driven to victory by Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Mille Miglia
  • 1954/55 W196 Grand Prix Silver Arrow
  • 1939 W154 Grand Prix Silver Arrow
  • 1930 Mercedes Trossi SSK
  • 1914 Mercedes Grand Prix car (French G.P.)
  • The 1908 Mercedes “Brooklands”
Photo  by IMS

Photo by IMS

The 1908 Mercedes Brooklands, is the sole survivor of only three produced. A Mercedes Brooklands finished fourth in the inaugural 1911 Indy 500 driven by Spencer Wishart, just 10 seconds behind Ray Harroun’s winning Marmon Wasp.

In the 1912 Indy 500, two Brooklands started – one by Wishart and one by Ralph De Palma – and De Palma very nearly won. In the car he nicknamed the Gray Ghost, he led 195 laps, but then a connecting rod broke. De Palma was able to coast one more lap but in the end he was classified 11th, behind winner Joe Dawson. (Wishart completed 82 laps and finished 15th.) These Brooklands were fitted with 583 cubic inch 4 cylinder engines.

The records of the individual Brooklands cars are difficult to distinguish from each other; the racers were leased and loaned to many owners and drivers. De Palma’s Brooklands was later lost in a fire. The Mercedes Brooklands has been kindly lent to Lime Rock by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

“It was the Brooklands models that built the very foundation of Mercedes racing success from the early 1900s onward,” Smith says. “A spectacular grouping, all of these very rare, very special Mercedes in one place at one time? Well, that pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I can’t tell you how pleased Lime Rock is to bring these cars to its fans and the media in such an intimate, beautiful and historic setting. Having Sir Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass as the weekend’s Honored Guests will add immensely to the Mercedes celebration, of course.”

About the Historic Festival: Since 1983, the East Coast’s premier vintage racing and concours event has been the Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park, held annually over Labor Day weekend. No other venue in the U.S. has three days of on-track racing sandwiching a prestigious concours event all on the same property, all at the same time. Historic Festival 33 is Thursday, September 3 (17-mile Vintage Race & Sports Car Parade) through Monday, September 7, while the Sunday in the Park Concours d’Elegance & Gathering of the Marques is September 6. Historic Festival 33 features Honored Guests Sir Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass, and one of the most distinctive gatherings of Mercedes-Benz competition cars in recent memory. Schedule: Thursday, Vintage Race Car Parade; Friday, Practice & Qualifying; Saturday, 18 races and demonstration laps; Sunday in the Park Concours; Monday, 18 races and demonstration laps. Ticket and other information at limerockhistorics.com & limerock.com

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