I recently got a call from the marketing folks at Lime Rock Park inviting me to participate in a race. Cool, right? Visions of last lap passes and a champagne-soaked podium celebration danced in my head. I wondered what kind of exotic racing machine I would be piloting: Formula Dodge? Spec Miata? Lime Rock Edition BMW M3?
When I returned my attention back to the caller, I realized the race was not on Lime Rock’s 1.52-mile, world-famous road circuit, but at an indoor facility. Lime Rock was sponsoring a “Press versus Pros” go-kart race, and as a member of the International Motor Press Association, I was invited to participate on the media side. Since I’m a big fan of karting, I was happy to accept. The event was being held on June 26th at the new On Track Karting facility in Brookfield (203-740-8100 ontrackkarting.com). I had not been to this new track yet, but had heard great things about it.
Lime Rock Park (www.limerock.com) was sponsoring the evening to promote the upcoming Northeast Grand Prix on July 5-6th which will feature the American Le Mans Series, the Pirelli World Challenge and the much anticipated Lime Rock debut of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series. Note to even casual race fans: If you have never been to Lime Rock Park, July 5-6 is the perfect time. Nestled in the Litchfield Hills, the setting is beautiful. This year, the outrageous DeltaWing will be racing wheel to wheel with the other exotic machinery. Plus, you can meet famous racers and celebrities, including racer Patrick Dempsey, fresh off his strong race at Le Mans. I know I’ll be there.
Upon arrival at the On Track building right off Route 7, I was immediately taken by the size of the circuit. On Track Karting’s 1800-foot track is one of the longest in the country. With 19 unique turns, it was going to take me a while to get up to speed. I had arrived early to get in a couple of practice runs, and my friend G.J. Dixon was nice enough to show me the line. But those laps did little to boost my confidence.
As the other drivers arrived, I saw the pro side was nicely represented with well-known GRAND-AM racers Eric Curran of Holyoke, MA and Canton, CT’s Adam Burrows. Also on hand was Newtown’s Mike Piera who won the ALMS GTC Class at Lime Rock in 2011 and has numerous National Championships. Rounding out the Pro division was New Milford’s Spencer Cox. Spencer owns SpeedSport Tuning in Danbury and is a longtime Porsche racer. Last year Spencer competed in and finished the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The press competitors had a wide mix of racing experience, so I was expecting a tough battle to stay in the hunt. Fortunately, one of the strongest competitors, Jalopnik’s Raphael Orlove who has shifter kart experience, failed to make the start due to a logistical screw-up. Sweet.
The start of the race looked like a demolition derby, as karts were slamming into each other. I managed to pass a couple of racers in the opening lap before Eric Curran made a dive-bomb move and spun me hard into the tire wall. By the time I got moving again, the field was half a lap ahead of me and I had some work to do. At the end of the race, I was pleased to find out I had won the Press Division while Adam Burrows was the Pro Division Champion.
After accepting my First Place Trophy – and a well-deserved beer – racing legend Bob Sharp came over to congratulate me. Bob’s handshake and pat on the back were way better than any champagne spray.