Skip Barber Race Series Part 4

Lime Rock

Lime Rock Park is nestled in the upper northwest corner of Connecticut and is the home of the Skip Barber Racing School and Series. At 1.53 mi., Lime Rock is considered short for an American road course. It is fast and flowing, with only one braking zone that approaches threshold braking (into Turn 1, called Big Bend). Rhythm, momentum and track knowledge are the keys to fast lap times here. For the final events of the summer season, the combined regional and national series would utilize the original course layout.  The track has two significant elevation changes: the Uphill corner rises three stories within its 415-foot length, while the Downhill drops 65 feet within its 515-foot length. The front straight is nearly half a mile long (with a long, paved run-off area at the end). Lime Rock also is unusual in that there is no racing on Sundays due to local laws. The weather started to turn foul after Thursday morning practice and wouldn’t improve until Saturday afternoon. I would be racing in the rain most of the time. Due to time constraints on Friday, both races would be run on Saturday. Race 1 started early in the morning under extremely wet conditions. With poor visibility due to constant fogging of my visor and continual spray from other cars, I could barely make out where I was on the track and where the corners were. I would use the meter boards on the side of the track as my reference but only after I passed them. Cars would appear from the mist and fog alongside me, slide and skate about, looking for the apex of the corners. More than once a driver would misjudge his approach speed and slice across in front of my nose and continue across and off the track. Race 2 started later in the afternoon and under drying conditions. I gridded up in 11th place for the start and fell in with the pack of runners just behind the leaders. At one point I had improved my spot into 5th place. The key was constantly adjusting to the drying track and looking for grip. Each lap I tried to inch closer to the regular dry line for the turns all the while jousting for position amongst my rivals. Passing at Lime Rock is all about getting a good run out of “West Bend”, maintaining good speed through “the Downhill”, drafting on the straight then out braking going into ”Big Bend”. The final laps were run on a virtually dry track and I set my lowest lap times of the weekend to finish in 8th place. Looking back over the event, I was gratified that I had overcome my struggles with the difficult conditions, applied the Bruce MacInnes tutorial of driving in the rain, engaged my adversaries stoutly and attained a higher level of skill and competence as a race driver. 

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Now my focus has turned to which path to follow as I pursue my driving career. The Skip Barber organization maintains a high level of professionalism and competence in all of their racing programs. It delivers a superior product in a friendly and welcoming manner. The options are many: continue in the Regional Series, try the National Series in the Masters class or maybe the Mazda MX5 Series. Another path would be to step up to a series such as Grand-Am or Pro FF2000. Whichever direction I turn towards, the lessons and adventures of the Skip Barber Race Series will always be there to lean on and savor.

Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving

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