April 28, 1957 may not be remembered as a day that changed history, but to a group of scrappy, stubborn dreamers in Lime Rock, Connecticut, it marked the realization of what only three years before had been merely a good idea. Build a racetrack in a cornfield, then invite other scrappy, stubborn dreamers who drive fast cars to race around on your new track and watch history unfold.
This was the dream realized by Jim Vail, John Fitch and General Manager John Clark as they were instrumental in turning cornfields surrounded by a gravel pit into a track designed for the safety of the drivers and the viewing pleasure of the spectators — an unheard of combination up to that time in sports car racing in America. The new track at Lime Rock was made for racing, and it has delivered on that promise ever since that day in 1957.
This year Lime Rock celebrates its 60th anniversary with the theme “Legends of Lime Rock,” and the Simeone Automotive Foundation Museum in Philadelphia, will kick off the event on Friday August 25, 2017, with an event geared to the driver, whether professional, amateur or armchair.
“We really want this to be a reunion of drivers,” stated Dr. Fred Simeone. “An event where they can get together again. Share stories. Reminisce. Drivers form a life-long bond on the track. We want to bring some of that to our event.”
After the talk, guests will have the chance to mingle with the panelists while viewing an exhibition of cars that will seem very familiar to many of the drivers. The Simeone Automotive Museum will display the cars that took part in that first race in 1957.
Sponsored by Vintage Racecar|Vintage Roadcar, the exhibit will showcase the cars that christened Lime Rock 60 years ago. Four of the examples are part of the museum’s permanent display; a Jaguar D-Type, a Ferrari Testa Rossa, a Maserati 300S and an Austin-Healey 100. AC Bristols, Porsches and many others will round out this exhibit of cars from a period many would agree was the most glorious and romantic days of sports car racing.
The exhibit will conclude on the morning of August 30, when spectators can enjoy a breakfast meet and greet and watch cars depart for Lime Rock. A caravan is planned to take the participating cars on a road trip from the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia to Lime Rock to meet up with the Thursday parade of cars that traditionally kicks off Lime Rock’s Historic Festival.
The traditional Labor Day Weekend event will be a tremendous automotive and racing extravaganza showcasing close to 2,000 historic, vintage, race and collector cars over its four days. Attendees will enjoy the historic racecar parades through town, three dozen vintage races and a prestigious concours on Sam Posey Straight on Sunday along with a huge collector car show. This year’s event will also feature a gala “Legends of Lime Rock” dinner where the new Legends of Lime Rock Commemorative Area will be unveiled. Fans of the racetrack will be able to purchase a “brick paver,” which will be integral to the design of the walks and pathways in the new area.
Tickets for events can be purchased by visiting these websites:
Legends of Lime Rock: https://www.limerockparkprojects.com/
Simeone Automotive Foundation Museum: https://www.simeonemuseum.org
Proceeds from the Simeone portion of the event will go to support SAFETY (Simone Automotive Foundation Teen Driver Awareness Program), a program developed by the Foundation so that teen drivers can get cognitive training in their school to help prevent crashes from distracted driving.