Le Mans Series
New England Grand Prix
July 2-5, 2004
was a must see event - the first time that the ALMS and the C5R Corvettes were
ever racing this
close to home. Lime Rock Park is located in the
north-west corner of Connecticut, a really beautiful area with great Corvette
roads. It is a beautiful facility, both for racing and for
spectators as well. I
weekend pass and room reserved back in March!
awhile, it looked like the C5 Registry was going to have its usual major
presence at an ALMS race,
but something happened, and they dropped the ball. Fortunately, Jack
Stacey from Club Corvette of CT
stepped in at the last minute
and got something going to have some Corvette-specific activities.
we were there, Hank Vezina and I met with Bill McMinn, Lime Rock's Marketing
Manager, and agreed
to do what we could to really build up the interest among
Corvette Clubs for future ALMS events at Lime
Rock. The series will be back
there for at least the next 2 years. Bill, in turn volunteered that he would
designate a % of the Corvette package to Corvettes Conquer Cancer
for the American Cancer Society!
Friday, July 2
Leaving home after 1/2 day at work.
1 minute later, this is what northbound traffic
on Route 1, 4th of July weekend,
Sure glad I was headed SOUTH! An
hour+ later, the Maine Turnpike
was more of the same, just more lanes.
Saturday, July 3
I spent the night at my daughter's in Bedford,
That is almost exactly half way to Lime Rock.
Back on the road to Lime
Rock at 6:09.
Arriving at Lime Rock Park.
Walking down the hill from my outfield parking
spot, I was hailed by friend Hank Vezina from NH as I was fumbling with my cell
phone to call him!
Good thing he spotted me - he had lost his phone the night
before! I gave him one of my FRS radios
and he took off to retrace his steps to
see if he could find his phone.
Meanwhile, I wandered around the paddock and
watched the practice sessions when the C5R Corvettes were running.
Here are the Vettes going through the esses.
These 3 shots form a panorama of the vantage
point we decided on to watch the racing.
From here we could see over half of the
1½ mile track, from the final turn onto the main straight (extreme right),
whole straight (right to left), the hairpin turn (left) and the esses (middle,
An unexpected treat: the red, white & blue
Corvette seen here, #79, is none other than Paul Newman. Yes, the actor.
# is, in fact, his AGE! Back in the 70's & 80's he was national champion in
sports car racing several times.
He is obviously still at it, and not just
out there having fun and staying out of the way. No, he is still very
The white car just ahead of him is the leader, and he was right in
there, at times literally banging bumpers,
for over half the race until he
slowed suddenly and dropped out with a mechanical problem of some kind.
all only hope to be in condition to do something that demanding, and that you
enjoy that much, at that age!
His car number changes every year with his age.
The local joke is that when they have to add a 3rd digit,
they might start to
worry! See several shots lower on the page of the car in the Sunday show.
The Corvette race team and their megabucks
Pratt & Miller
The Lamborghini Murcielago in only its 2nd
outing. In stark contrast
to the Vettes' deep, throaty bellow,
this thing makes
an ungodly shriek
that was either on or off, like a switch!
The Saleen... Mustang?!
Sunday, July 4
This is the Inn at White Hollow Farm
where Hank and I were staying. Nice place, and less than a mile from the track,
but very odd as a B&B in that it is unstaffed! Breakfast is set out the
night before, and is do-it-yourself.
By the way, we found Hank's phone in the grass out back where he had been
standing to watch fireworks Friday night.
It had been run over by a lawn mower,
but survived and still worked!
We really didn't need to get to the track this
early. I think we were the first ones there.
There is no racing at Lime Rock on Sundays because of local Blue Laws, so big
race weekends like this
have shows and autograph sessions and prep for the
racing that takes place on Monday.
There was a Corvette show on the main straight
in front of the timing tower and pits.
Hank and I set up our usual display at the front. Lime Rock had a hospitality
tent set up with food,
both breakfast and lunch, for the show participants only.
Right next to us was a new vendor, MKB Customs,
who makes dress-up covers for C5 rear calipers.
We had met Gene Kozlowski at
Spring Fling back in May, and he was interested in working with us to promote
As of July 4, MKB Customs
become our newest sponsor. He installed the classy caliper covers, and I
installed his decals!
Welcome aboard, Gene, and thanks for your support!
My radio control C6 : the first C6 to run on
the track at Lime Rock!
While there, I had it autographed by John Fitch (the first Corvette factory
the first Corvette factory team manager, co-driver in 1960 of the
Cunningham '60 Vette in its
first big international win at Le Mans, and one of
the founders and first manager of the Lime Rock track),
all 4 of the Corvette
C5R race drivers: Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Oliver Gavin and Olivier
plus the C5R team manager, Doug Fehan. Talk about history: These great
people ARE Corvette racing
from its inception to the current state
of the art!
The model was auctioned off to benefit the American Cancer Society
at the C5
Registry Regional Event: Maine2004 the following weekend.
That's John Fitch below in the white cap signing autographs
on the hood of the Corvair-based car he built back in the 70's.
He's talking to
Brian Larson, Pres. of Corvettes United in the black ball cap and
In the black shirt and white shorts is Jack Stacey of Club Corvette
of CT who did the legwork
to make the Corvette activities this weekend
happen. Thanks, Jack!
A quick look at the show lineup.
This is Bill McMinn, Lime Rock's Marketing
Manager in a typical pose. He made it possible for us to be there,
and we are
working with him to really build up the Corvette participation at this great
event in the future.
The American LeMans Series will be back at
least the next 2 years.
Don't miss it!
Paul Newman's race car. You won't find his name
on it anywhere, just the initials "PLN" above the doors.
Look at it -
this is a SERIOUS race car, although no way a Corvette other than the shell!
I don't know how it got there, but looking inside I noticed that one of
brochures and Corvette Raffle form were on the driver's seat! Thank you to
whoever did that!
Wow, talk about spirit! This kid (I can't
believe I can't find his name) has really been through it,
and is still with us,
enjoying life, and Corvettes. He had 2 bouts with leukemia, had a bone marrow
which brought that under control, then had both lungs transplanted!
At 3:00 the show broke ranks and the Vettes
lined up for our 3 laps around the track.
Oh, if you have the chance to do this,
don't pay any attention to the track official's
warning not to exceed
The end of a very pleasant, laid back day.
Lots of nice horse farms on the way to dinner
with Hank in Lakeville.
Monday, July 5
After a quick run to MA for tanks of gas (10¢
cheaper than CT, believe it or not),
it was back past our B&B and into the track. It's a little
busier this morning!
Bill McMinn had designated a spot for us in the
Vendors' Midway on the hill.
Small world incident: After I
parked, I noticed this gorgeous old XK120 Jag across the aisle. Then I noticed
RI tag "SJF". My god, I thought, I'll bet that's Stu Forer,
my best buddy from our high school days! I hadn't seen him since
Philadelphia around 1960 for Brown University in RI. I had heard bits and pieces
through the grapevine that he had stayed
in RI, and had gotten into vintage
sports cars. I even thought I saw him flashing by on a golf cart last Labor Day
when I was at
Lime Rock for the Vintage races, but I lost him in the
crowd. I left one of my brochures on the seat of the Jag with a note and finished
setting up my display. Maybe 20 minutes later I noticed
the hood was up on the
Jag, so I went over. Sure enough, it was Stu. He hadn't seen me yet, so I waited
for the appropriate moment,
slipped up behind him and said "Godammit
Stuart!" This was our standard greeting back then, from the only way I ever
heard his father
address him. He spun around, and I swear, he hadn't changed a
bit, other than losing a few pounds! And yes, that was him on that
golf cart last
Labor Day! Next trip here hopefully we can spend more time catching up.
The vendors' midway as the clouds descend and
become more threatening.
I braved the ½ hour C5R team autograph line to
get the model and my banner signed. We're heading for the 2nd set of
There I am in the red shirt, reflected in the mirrored back doors
to one of the C5R Team trailers. It must have been kind of humiliating for
other manufacturers' teams, whose autograph lines, if there was a line, might
have been 2 or 3 people deep.
Back at my display, I found a Maybach parked
behind me. A WHAT, you say? This is a new, very much upscale car from the
It is targeting the Rolls Royce and Bentley customer who wants
a little more flair and performance. Like 560 HP!
We packed up our display in time to be in
position for the start of the American Le Mans Series race at 3:00 as the sky got
more and more threatening.
Sure enough, the race probably hadn't completed a lap
when the rain started, but very lightly. I think only 1 or 2 cars pitted for a
change to rain tires. Bad
move. After about 5 minutes, the rain stopped, the
skies cleared and out came the sunblock. The 2:45 race was Corvette all the way
in GTS class, with
some competition from the Saleen, which ended up a lap
behind, and the Lamborghini, which, when it was even on the track, seemed to
keep getting in
the way. The 2 Vettes settled into racing each other, with
Beretta passing Fellows late in the race to finish first in class, 4th overall.
Here's the winner, on the way to the tech
Leaving the track for the 5 hour drive home.
Well, 5 hours AFTER
we GET OUT of the track.
OK, 4 hours 50 minutes.
Thanks to Lime Rock and the
efforts of Jack Stacey, we were able to send $241.00
to the American Cancer Society office in Wilton,
CT. Not much, but
we opened the door for a lot more in the future with Lime Rock's participation,
and we gained another sponsor in MKB Customs.