Being at Lime Rock Park this past weekend to officially launch my new mystery novel reminded me why I set the book there in the first place: it’s a lovely and inviting place.
Racetracks come in many flavors. Speedways are usually monuments to concrete and steel (though some, like Daytona, have a water feature in the middle of them). Street courses are, of necessity, made of asphalt, concrete, and temporarily decommissioned streetlights. And road courses, can be dusty and sun baked (out west, where I live) or lush and green (other parts of the country).
Most of the time, fans watch from grandstands, and at road courses in particular, they see only one or two corners of the track—when the course has as many as 14 turns, it’s a small percentage. We’ve already chatted about the view of all the racing action being part of the appeal of oval courses. But I’m a road-racing fan … so what am I to do?
The cheapest answer, of course, is “watch it on TV” (and I do, whether I’ve also attended the race in person or not). But there’s nothing like being at a race. The sights, sounds (that roar as they come to the green!), the smells (race fuel, exhaust, and tire rubber), and the feel of going home that night knowing you’ve been at an event.
My preference when attending a road course is to roam the track, sitting in different corners at different points of the race—and being sure to get a view of the pits for some portion of the action. The roaming concept is how I approach the famed Laguna Seca course in Monterey, to which no visit is complete without a stroll up the hill to stand next to the Corkscrew—that truly must be seen in person to comprehend the magnitude of that piece of the track!
If we’re talking about the great American road courses, Laguna Seca will be mentioned, as will Watkins Glen and Road America. But one of my all-time favorites is Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Connecticut. It’s a short, quick course for drivers, in which there are few breaks. I’ve heard it referred to as a bullring of a track, or the Bristol of road racing (that’s a description owner Skip Barber doesn’t care for much, he explained to a group of fans this weekend).
From the fan perspective, Lime Rock is small, easy to navigate, and has no grandstands. It’s a park with a racetrack in it, and as such, attracts a lot families and groups out for a fun day. I found people on this trip to be universally pleasant and friendly and enthusiastic. I met track volunteers who drive as many as three hours to contribute their time on race weekends, and I met a man who has lived right around the corner and has volunteered for nearly three decades.
It’s a great place to watch a race, and it’s a great place to be for a day. If you get the chance, I highly recommend getting there for a race or two. I think you’ll enjoy it.