Lime Rock Park is a road course auto racing facility located in Lime Rock, Connecticut,United States, a hamlet in the village of Lakeville, Connecticut. The track is owned by Skip Barber, a former race car driver who started the Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park in 1975. The track is touted as the "Road Racing Center of the East", and each year hosts everything from car shows to vintage races to world class sports car racing events. It is located in the Northwest corner of Connecticut.
Many local and national, amateur and professional car clubs, such as the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR), BMW Car Club of America, Porsche Club of America, Skip Barber Race Series, Eastern Motor Racing Association, Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA), Grand American Road Racing (Grand-Am) and American Le Mans Series (ALMS) hold professional races, high-speed touring, weekend amateur racing and driver training school events at Lime Rock Park.
Lime Rock is unique among US professional racetracks in that it has no grandstand or bleacher seating. Hillsides lining the track provide ample spectator areas and good sightlines of the track, contributing to the picnic atmosphere and park-like setting.
The track is long and consists of 7 turns, while the optional course is slightly shorter at with 10 turns.
Recent repairs to the track have included removing concrete patches in the corners. In preparation for the new American LeMans Series
date in July 2004, alterations were made to the false grid/pre-grid area to expand the pitlane. In January and February 2006, the track made some safety upgrades that included the addition of a third rail of armco
and some catch fencing to areas such as the No-Name Straight and the Back Straight, along with paved runoff for the daunting Uphill Turn. A new false grid/pre-grid area and the paddock was also paved. Souvenir stands/shops have also been selling "I helped pave Lime Rock Park" bumper stickers since 2004.
On April 10
Skip Barber held a "groundbreaking" ceremony. "The Lime Rock Park, the Club" was announced in 2007 as a method to raise capital and ensure the control of the track for the next 50 years. Plans include a new clubhouse, complete repaving of the existing circuit, now called the "Classic", and reconfiguration of sections to create a variety of circuits. Low speed chicanes have been planned for the entrance to No Name Straight, the inside of The Uphill, and the outside of West Bend, in an attempt to make the track safer for club enthusiasts. The existing chicane at the top of the Uphill will disappear. In addition, the outside of the Downhill is slated to be paved for safer runoffs, the pit lane will be extended the former location of the infield bridge, and improvements will be made in runoff areas. The bulk of the course work is scheduled to be completed in June of 2008.
The track is short, fast and contains some extreme elevation changes. The "Front Straight" is nearly half a mile long, and the corners are much better known by their names than numbers. Turns 1 and 2, "Big Bend", are one large sweeping right hand turn which decreases slightly in radius towards the end of the turn. There is a large paved runoff area at the end of the front straight going into Big Bend. Turn 3, the "Left Hander", is the first of the two turns known as the "Esses" and the only significant left hand turn on the track. The Left Hander is banked slightly, which helps keep cars on track. Turn 4, the "Right-hander", is the second of the two turns known as the Esses and increases in radius towards the exit. Between the Right Hander and Turn 5 is "No Name Straight". This section of the track is not straight, with two gentle bends (called "Zig" and "Zag" on an early track map) to the right and back left. Turn 5 at the end of No Name Straight is known as the "Uphill" thanks to the dramatic increase in elevation immediately after the beginning of the turn. The end of the Uphill coincides with the crest of the hill. The optional chicane at the top of the uphill slows down cars to keep them from becoming too light at the top of the hill. The optional "John Morton" chicane
is named after a driver who was almost killed in 1988 when his Nissan GTP prototype racer became airborne and flipped, crashing violently at high speed in that area. The Back Straight runs between the Uphill and turn 6, known as "West Bend". West Bend is flat with no change in radius. Exiting West Bend, a straightaway plunges beneath the auto bridge to the infield before turn 7, the "Downhill" turns right to enter the Front Sraight. The Downhill starts to become level at the beginning of the turn, though it is bumpy.
Footnote: The auto bridge over the track to access the infield is a World War II-surplus Bailey Bridge, believed to be the only surviving example still in daily use.
The track was constructed on farmland by the owner's son, Jim Vaill, in 1955 at the prompting of the local SCCA
members. Construction took nearly 2 years due to poor weather conditions and local opposition. Famed driver John Fitch
has been falsely rumored to have helped design the track. He helped promote the track after its construction and served as circuit director in the early years.
A few area homeowners brought legal action in 1959, resulting in an injuction that is restrictive yet enabling. While the track may not race on Sundays, it can race unmuffled cars on Saturdays and holidays, hold open practice on Tuesdays and more. The injunction remains in place today.
Since 1957 Lime Rock Park has hosted almost every form of motorsport including Trans-Am, USAC Formula Libre races, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series events, SCCA National and Regional races, NASCAR Busch East Series, American Le Mans Series, the annual Rolex Vintage Festival every Labor Day, and the annual Ferrari Racing Days every July, as well as the Skip Barber Driving School.