Now celebrating its 33rd year, the Lime Rock Historic Festival is the East Coast’s premier vintage racing and concours event. The event is held annually on Labor Day weekend at Lime Rock Park raceway in Connecticut.
The event is unique in that it combines three days of on-track racing with a prestigious concours event, all at the same location. In addition, there’s the Thursday kick-off vintage and race car parade that travels through the surrounding towns and ends with a “Welcome Party” on the streets of Falls Village, Connecticut.
The vintage racing on Friday, Saturday and Monday brings some of the most storied and historic race cars together for on-track competition. Just walking the paddock is a car show in itself with cars of all historic eras on display as they are prepped for the track.
Also in the paddock is a classic sports car swap meet with everything from a rusty Morgan to rare parts for that project in your garage.
This year featured co-grand marshals, famed racers Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass, who signed autographs and visited with fans.
Due to regulations of the town where the track is located, the race days are interrupted with the Sunday in the Park Concours. This year, more than 200 cars competed for top concours honors, with everything from Brass Era cars to the top sports and GT cars from the ’30s through the ’70s on display on the entire length of Sam Posey Straight, from the Downhill to Big Bend.
The remaining mile of track was completely filled with more than 700 additional collector cars displayed by enthusiastic owners in groups according to marque and origin. This Gathering of the Marques is a fascinating, eclectic display, where you can get right up close to everything brought by the clubs, from a 300SL “gullwing” to a modern Dodge Viper.
This inclusiveness of the Gathering of the Marques makes for a show that has something for everyone, regardless of what kinds of cars you are interested in.
There also was a special display of competition cars from Mercedes-Benz including the No. 722 300 SLR that was driven to victory by Moss and co-driver/navigator Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Mille Miglia, as well as three Silver Arrows Grand Prix cars. Many argue that Moss’s drive in the 722 is the greatest motorsport achievement of all time, and it was great to see the car up close and personal.
A special treat occurred when one of the Mercedes grand prix cars, the W196 provided by the Revs Institute, was driven around the track by Mass during the lunchtime break on each day of racing. The incredible sound of that car at speed just has to be heard to be believed.
By the end of the event fans left with a great car experience, sort of like a mini Monterey sports car week, with the added benefit of the event being all in one place.
The dates for next year’s Historic Festival are September 1-5, 2015.
Photos by Andy Reid