Each summer time for the previous 6 to 7 years, I’ve tuned into endurance racing occasions on TV or on-line just like the 24 hours of Le Mans, Nurburgring, and Spa, and have all the time been fascinated by the aggressive nature of the World Endurance Championship sequence, and in addition the preparation that goes on behind the scenes to make these occasions doable. Rising up within the US, NASCAR was my solely outlet as a younger automotive fanatic, however as I acquired older I discovered a greater model of racing, due to enjoying Gran Turismo, with extra technical tracks and circuit racing throughout the globe and I used to be immediately drawn in. The digicam work, the sounds that have been being picked up on the mics, and even getting a small glimpse of the paddock and pit row from the on monitor reporters created a psychological image that I needed to expertise in individual.
In January of 2020 I made it a objective to attend a race at Lime Rock, however sadly these plans have been altered. With nothing to do on weekends due to the dearth of automotive occasions, I began watching GT4, TCR, and Grand Sport extra intently. I acquired a greater understanding of the groups, drivers, and began following the standings excess of I had earlier than. When 2021 started and life was returning to regular, I knew that after doing nothing for a complete yr, that this was the time to make the journey and attend my first ever race.
Main as much as Saturday, climate wasn’t trying too promising however as we acquired inside 24 hours of the beginning of the Lime Rock 120 it appeared as if the thunderstorms would maintain off lengthy sufficient to no less than watch the primary race in it’s entirety. The final word objective was to only have half-hour to listen to the Porsche 911 RSR scream across the monitor, and we have been rewarded with nearly an hour and half-hour of the Northeast Grand Prix earlier than the purple flag was waved. Whereas the race was lower brief, I acquired hooked instantly and I’m positive everybody round me has gotten bored with listening to the limitless raving about this weekend.
What made this occasion so particular?
The sights, the sounds, and even the smells have been nothing like I’ve ever skilled earlier than. If you happen to’ve been to air reveals, you in all probability know the sensation, however to be inside mere ft of those automobiles as they raced across the monitor made Saturday unbelievable. Even higher, IMSA simply is perhaps one of the vital fan pleasant organizations in all of sports activities, as earlier than the race you may stroll down pit row with out having to pay an additional charge, you may rise up near the automobiles, and perhaps even meet your favourite drivers. Everyone seems to be pleasant and well mannered, and to an extent it appears like one huge Automobiles & Espresso, with the exception that you simply get to observe the automobiles in movement and never need to take care of police giving out tickets for loud exhausts or have neighbors complaining.
From a spectator’s perceptive, Lime Rock gives some nice areas to get superior photographs or movies or just simply phenomenal views. Turns 1, 2, and three appears to be the favored spot, however in case you make your strategy to No-Title Straight the sound that bounces off the hills because the the GTLM and GTD automobiles cross by, then downshift as they strategy Flip 5 after which speed up out of the nook is a backbone tingling sensation. It was 90 levels and humid, however I nonetheless managed to get chills every lap. The world I couldn’t get sufficient of what Turns 6 and seven, but in addition the immediately that dips down underneath Bailey Bridge because the they enter the ultimate nook. Right here you may expertise the race on each facet of the monitor, offering nice views but in addition as soon as once more excellent areas for images and movies.
How in regards to the racing?
Each the Lime Rock 120 and Northeast Grand Prix exceeded expectations, however in several methods. The primary race had each the Grand Sport and TCR courses, providing a superb combine, but in addition due to a discipline of 30+ automobiles it was a bit extra aggressive than GTLM and GTD. No matter class, there’s quite a lot of producers and totally different engines which is why even on a primary degree of sound is healthier than the V8 stuffed discipline of NASCAR. Within the GS class you will have a stable steadiness between the BMW M4 and Toyota Supra’s inline 6, the Porsche Cayman’s Flat 6, the Chevy Camaro, McLaren 570S, Aston Martin Vantage, and Mercedes Benz GT being powered by V8’s, and the Audi R8’s V10. Whereas the TCR class is all powered by 4 cylinders, collectively these two courses create alternatives of seeing passes in corners and nearer racing, however the quantity of entries per race performed an element as effectively. The Lime Rock 120 additionally has a couple of extra cautions which bunched up the sector on quite a few events and with that introduced some nice racing.
Regarding the ultimate laps, I’d suggest retuning to the primary corners or shut sufficient the place you may hear the announcers in case you aren’t listening to IMSA radio to get an concept of what’s taking place elsewhere on the monitor. Whereas I used to be standing close to Bailey Bridge and overlooking flip 7, I noticed the top however wasn’t totally conscious that in TCR the hole between 1st and 2nd as they crossed the end line was 0.134.
Then for the primary occasion, the Northeast Grand Prix, “speechless” could be the phrase to explain watching all 16 automobiles cross by. For such a small discipline, the sound was amplified in comparison with the prior race which was nonetheless fairly loud. The 2 Corvette C8.R’s dominated the whole race, each carving out a large lead over their solely competitor, the Porsche 911 RSR and within the course of lapping the GTD automobiles on quite a few events. Extra essential than the automobiles themselves have been the drivers collaborating, reminiscent of Jordan Taylor, Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet, and Laurens Vanthoor all of which shall be competing in both the 24 hours at Spa or Le Mans so that you’re watching World Class drivers execute strikes on the monitor and race which is fairly superior.
It was this race the place I discovered a spot to only sit down and luxuriate in because the skies started to darken, and quite than spending all my time filming I needed to soak in each second of this unbelievable expertise. I couldn’t take my eyes off the Porsche 911 RSR because the roar of the exhaust would simply shake you to your core, and there have been a couple of instances the place I believed I’d lose my listening to (carry ear plugs in case you attend these races). However identical to with the Grand Sport Class, there was a superb number of engines and exhaust notes producing a pleasant automotive melody as they handed by.
Sadly after nearly an hour an a half in, lighting struck and that was the top of the festivities. I acquired to expertise sufficient the place the three hour drive was completely price it, whereas not spending sufficient time appreciating this race the place I really feel like the following journey is touring to Watkins Glen subsequent yr earlier than returning to Lime Rock.
I’m addicted having witnessed all of this in individual, and I extremely suggest going in case you or a member of the family has been speaking abut attending for some time. It’s an expertise like no different, and when you go to at least one race you’ll end up wanting extra.
Thanks IMSA, Lime Rock, and all of the groups and drivers for a tremendous Saturday! Trying ahead to doing this once more subsequent yr See you in 2022!