Each summer season 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 at all times been fascinated by the aggressive nature of the World Endurance Championship collection, 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 automobile fanatic, however as I obtained older I discovered a greater model of racing, because of taking part in 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 particular person.
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 because of the dearth of automobile occasions, I began watching GT4, TCR, and Grand Sport extra intently. I obtained 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 whole 12 months, 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 obtained inside 24 hours of the beginning of the Lime Rock 120 it appeared as if the thunderstorms would maintain off lengthy sufficient to not less than watch the primary race in it’s entirety. The final word objective was to simply have half-hour to listen to the Porsche 911 RSR scream across the monitor, and we have been rewarded with virtually an hour and half-hour of the Northeast Grand Prix earlier than the crimson flag was waved. Whereas the race was minimize brief, I obtained hooked instantly and I’m certain everybody round me has gotten uninterested in listening to the infinite 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. Should you’ve been to air exhibits, you most likely know the sensation, however to be inside mere toes of those automobiles as they raced across the monitor made Saturday unbelievable. Even higher, IMSA simply is perhaps probably the most fan pleasant organizations in all of sports activities, as earlier than the race you possibly can stroll down pit row with out having to pay an additional charge, you possibly can stand 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 should take care of police giving out tickets for loud exhausts or have neighbors complaining.
From a spectator’s perceptive, Lime Rock provides some nice places to get superior photographs or movies or just simply phenomenal views. Turns 1, 2, and three appears to be the favored spot, however should you make your method to No-Identify Straight the sound that bounces off the hills because the the GTLM and GTD automobiles move by, then downshift as they method 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 realm I couldn’t get sufficient of what Turns 6 and seven, but in addition the immediately that dips down beneath Bailey Bridge because the they enter the ultimate nook. Right here you possibly can expertise the race on each aspect of the monitor, offering nice views but in addition as soon as once more excellent places for pictures and movies.
How concerning 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 lessons, providing a very good combine, but in addition because of a subject of 30+ automobiles it was a bit extra aggressive than GTLM and GTD. No matter class, there’s quite a lot of producers and completely different engines which is why even on a fundamental stage of sound is healthier than the V8 stuffed subject of NASCAR. Within the GS class you’ve a strong stability 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 lessons 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 last laps, I’d advocate retuning to the primary corners or shut sufficient the place you possibly can hear the announcers should you aren’t listening to IMSA radio to get an thought 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 absolutely conscious that in TCR the hole between 1st and 2nd as they crossed the end line was 0.134.
Then for the principle occasion, the Northeast Grand Prix, “speechless” can be the phrase to explain watching all 16 automobiles move by. For such a small subject, the sound was amplified in comparison with the prior race which was nonetheless fairly loud. The 2 Corvette C8.R’s dominated your entire 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 necessary than the automobiles themselves have been the drivers collaborating, reminiscent of Jordan Taylor, Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet, and Laurens Vanthoor all of which can 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 simply sit down and revel in because the skies started to darken, and fairly 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 (convey ear plugs should you attend these races). However similar to with the Grand Sport Class, there was a very good number of engines and exhaust notes producing a pleasant automotive melody as they handed by.
Sadly after virtually an hour an a half in, lighting struck and that was the top of the festivities. I obtained to expertise sufficient the place the three hour drive was completely value it, whereas not spending sufficient time appreciating this race the place I really feel like the subsequent journey is touring to Watkins Glen subsequent 12 months earlier than returning to Lime Rock.
I’m addicted having witnessed all of this in particular person, and I extremely advocate going should 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 an incredible Saturday! Trying ahead to doing this once more subsequent 12 months See you in 2022!