I calculated the mileage. It would take a little over two hours to trek the 126 miles to Lime Rock Park. In order to arrive when I like to, before the action begins, departure would have to be around 5:30 a.m. Not a problem. The night before, I charged the camera batteries, formatted the memory cards, and packed the car with essential gear. I was ready to experience my first historic festival. Or so I thought.
Lime Rock Park, located in Salisbury, Connecticut, is set in the beautiful rolling hills of the Constitution State. The ride north, on this quiet Sunday morning, was just as visually pleasant as the destination itself. My goal was simple: attend the Lime Rock Park Historic Festival on Sunday and Monday of the 4-day event. Racing would take place on Monday, with Sunday being reserved for the 'Sunday in the Park Concours and Gathering of the Marques.' A few months before the event, my pal PJ from Redline Restorations introduced me to Dwight of The Little Red Racing Car fame and I was commissioned to capture a book signing he was doing with the Honored Guest, Sir Stirling Moss. Sir Stirling Moss! I knew it was going to be an epic two days even before arriving.
What is the scientific term for visual overstimulation? A brain explosion? Oh, sensory overload. That is exactly what happened when I arrived Sunday morning. There was a bit of hanging around because I arrived unannounced before the gates opened, but once I made it in and parked, my brain started working overtime. The only relief I had from all of the visual excitement were the milliseconds of blindness when my eyelids blinked closed. It was incredible. It was a constant stream of assorted metal rolling in and taking their place along the perimeter of the track. Cadillacs followed Ferraris which accompanied Fiats, behind a line of Bimmers, Shelbys and JDM metal. It was wild.
The only scheduled appointment on my agenda for that day was to meet with Dwight and form a game plan of capturing the excitement at his table during the book signing, as well his interaction with Sir Stirling and the Maserati 300S brought by Redline. Other than that, I was left to wander. And wander I did. I walked up and down the main straight, pointing my camera at everything that moved for the next few hours. When most of the cars were in place, some say that they stretched the entire 1.5 mile length of the track.
When the appropriate time arrived, I headed to Dwight's table for his and Sir Stirling's 'See and Sign' session. The line of fans seemed to wind on forever, and it seemed that the 45 minutes or so allotted would be insufficient for the application of autographs on memorabilia such as biographies, helmets, and random car parts.
A small slice of backstory: Dwight authored and illustrated The Little Red Racing Car, a "children's picture book for car-loving families." The focus of the story was a 1955 Maserati 300S that was lost to time and discovered in a barn by a young boy. That car was rumored to have been driven by the great Sir Stirling Moss. With the opportunity to bring together all the elements of this fictional book, Chris from Ruehl Racing sparked an idea that caught fire amongst the interested parties. And so, at the Lime Rock Historic Festival 32, with the help of Redline Restorations, car and driver would be reunited.
The interaction between man and machine, both Sir Stirling and Dwight, was truly an emotional moment. You could see it in Dwight's eyes that sitting in the Maserati in a way validated his entire life's work. Okay, maybe I shouldn't go that far. But you could tell that he was really having a moment. And I was honored to be capturing it.
Getting back to that wandering. I almost felt like a child left unattended in a grocery store. I knew where I was, but I had no precise direction to go. It was lovely. The day was overcast and made it easy to capture the color of the cars, as I wasn't battling with shadows caused by a bright sun. And the cars just kept rolling in.
Even though it felt like I walked 500 miles, I never made it completely around the track. I owe it either to poor planning or the fact that there was only nine hours available, regardless, I still was able to capture nearly 700 images. Next year, I will be sure to map my walk a bit better.
Among the cars featured this year included an incredible gathering of Abarth and OSCAs, Formula Junior racers of the 1970s, and designer Ralph Lauren brought five select vehicles from his private collection.
And just when I thought the day was over, I wandered up to a completely separate meet that was going on. Gumball Meet was hosting a charity event that attracted a few hundred tuner cars. I got there at the tail end, but was still able to capture a few of the personalized rides exiting the show grounds.
As if Mother Nature was a car fan herself, Sunday ended just as the rain started rolling in. I walked back to my car, feeling refreshed from the falling precipitation. The day's events had concluded, but it was far from over. I headed onward to where I made my sleep accommodations, at the Casa del PJ, and we three pals (including his lovelier other half) ended our evening with a delicious Duchess burger and homemade ice cream from Timothy's. Again, many thanks to the two of them for opening up their home and allowing me to use some hot water and electricity.
Monday proved even more spectacular. All of the cars that were parked up in the paddock hit the track to unleash their sights and sounds to the crowd's delight. There were nine classes or so, ranging from pre-war sports cars to post-war club racers, to the Formula Junior class to post-1965 Sports Racing. The cars flying by at speed was something that needs to be experienced by every car nut, racing fan or not. Next year, I'll be sure to don my reflective safety vest and apply for the appropriate trackside pass ahead of time.
When all was said and done, I loaded up on Monday afternoon with more mental and digital images than I knew what to do with. It was an incredible experience and I look forward to attending every subsequent year that my schedule allows. I would like to take this moment to offer a few shoutouts. First to PJ, for being an all-around great pal and allowing me to stay with him Sunday night, but also for always hooking it up on the opportunity front. Second, to Dwight for giving me the chance to show you what I can produce via camera. I am honored to be a part of that special time for you and glad that I was able to capture it all eternally. I look forward to future collaborations together. And lastly, to my wonderful fiancé, who doesn't mind the weekends that I disappear to be in my element. I truly appreciate that accommodation. Until next time, Carpe Viam!