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 all the time been fascinated by the aggressive nature of the World Endurance Championship sequence, and likewise the preparation that goes on behind the scenes to make these occasions potential. Rising up within the US, NASCAR was my solely outlet as a younger automobile fanatic, however as I bought older I discovered a greater model of racing, because of enjoying Gran Turismo, with extra technical tracks and circuit racing throughout the globe and I used to be immediately drawn in. The digital camera work, the sounds that had been being picked up on the mics, and even getting a small glimpse of the paddock and pit row from the on observe reporters created a psychological image that I needed to expertise in particular person.
In January of 2020 I made it a purpose to attend a race at Lime Rock, however sadly these plans had been altered. With nothing to do on weekends because of the shortage of automobile occasions, I began watching GT4, TCR, and Grand Sport extra intently. I bought a greater understanding of the groups, drivers, and began following the standings way over 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 wanting too promising however as we bought inside 24 hours of the beginning of the Lime Rock 120 it appeared as if the thunderstorms would maintain off lengthy sufficient to at the least watch the primary race in it’s entirety. The final word purpose was to simply have half-hour to listen to the Porsche 911 RSR scream across the observe, and we had 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 reduce quick, I bought hooked instantly and I’m positive everybody round me has gotten uninterested in listening to the limitless raving about this weekend.
What made this occasion so particular?
The sights, the sounds, and even the smells had 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 vehicles as they raced across the observe made Saturday unbelievable. Even higher, IMSA simply may be one of the crucial 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 price, you may stand up near the vehicles, and possibly even meet your favourite drivers. Everyone seems to be pleasant and well mannered, and to an extent it seems like one massive Vehicles & Espresso, with the exception that you just get to look at the vehicles in movement and never should cope with police giving out tickets for loud exhausts or have neighbors complaining.
From a spectator’s perceptive, Lime Rock provides 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 the event you make your solution to No-Title Straight the sound that bounces off the hills because the the GTLM and GTD vehicles move 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 below Bailey Bridge because the they enter the ultimate nook. Right here you may expertise the race on each facet of the observe, 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 combine, but in addition because of a discipline of 30+ vehicles 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 primary degree of sound is healthier than the V8 crammed discipline of NASCAR. Within the GS class you have got 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 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 remaining laps, I’d advocate retuning to the primary corners or shut sufficient the place you may hear the announcers in the event you aren’t listening to IMSA radio to get an concept of what’s taking place elsewhere on the observe. Whereas I used to be standing close to Bailey Bridge and overlooking flip 7, I noticed the tip 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 principle occasion, the Northeast Grand Prix, “speechless” could be the phrase to explain watching all 16 vehicles move 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 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 vehicles on quite a few events. Extra necessary than the vehicles themselves had been the drivers taking part, reminiscent of Jordan Taylor, Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet, and Laurens Vanthoor all of which will likely be competing in both the 24 hours at Spa or Le Mans so that you’re watching World Class drivers execute strikes on the observe 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 moderately than spending all my time filming I wished 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 in the event you attend these races). However similar to with the Grand Sport Class, there was 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 tip of the festivities. I bought 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 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 in the event 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! Wanting ahead to doing this once more subsequent 12 months See you in 2022!