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Auto Racing at Lime Rock Park
Copyright 2004-2005 by Michael_Brochstein

click here to see more photo's from Lime Rock (below)
more photo's below

Some Background

I went to my first automobile race (ever) on Memorial Day 2000 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. Actually, I went to a series of races as in the course of the day there were about five races, each with a different class of cars.  Some races early in the day classes are run by up and comers (or weekend warriors spending alot of "disposable" income) while later races are run by professional teams with multi-million dollar budgets.

Lime Rock Park has a long and distinguished history as a race track but is not one of the more famous NASCAR courses with large grandstands and a large oval shaped track below. Lime Rock's main track is a 1.5  mile "road" course set in a modestly hilly area and is located in a bucolic section of postcard perfect rural small town New England. There are no grandstands. Most spectators sit on landscaped grassy (and tree shaded in spots) hillsides picnicking while watching the races.  Others walk around the large grounds both inside and outside of the track where one can easily walk up to fences for excellent (and loud!) views of the "action" (I walked around alot!) as well as in the paddocks where the race team's trailers, staff and race cars are kept.  It is in the paddocks where the race cars are prepped and worked on. There are also some hardcore race fans who spend the weekend there in motorhome (RV) areas watching the races on lawn chairs while barbequing and consuming "appropriate" beverages.

Why should I go or be interested and is it any different than watching it on TV?

On Memorial Day 2000 I went because I had never seen an automobile race in person (I watched some on TV when I was much much younger and I had been to Lime Rock Park before for a driving class and when bicycling in the area but had never seen a race there before).  I imagined that just sitting in an large grandstand watching an automobile race could be passive and boring (unless you are a fan).  Memorial Day 2000 at Lime Rock Park was not boring.  I spent most of the day walking around the meandering mostly grassy infield and outfield parts of the track (on the spectator side of the fence) to see what was going on from various points of view, taking lots of photo's, people watching (not a typical Upper West Side of Manhattan crowd!), checking out the souvenir shop, walking around the large paddock area, and sitting on a grassy hillside eating lunch while watching the action below. I did enough walking on the non-flat terrain of Lime Rock Park that I could easily categorize the day as an easy hike. I've seen auto racing on TV and this is not the same.  This is a very live and in-person experience. It may not make for a serene, mellow or quiet day but it is fun, fast moving, different, real, and outdoors (you can also get a bit of exercise if you walk around alot as the track is a hilly 1.5 miles in length).

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I bring?
(the bottled water sold there is not cheap), earplugs, backpack (so you can walk around while comfortably carrying your stuff), comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots (I did a lot of walking!), sunscreen, hat, binoculars, sunglasses, camera, snacks, lunch etc.

Do I really need earplugs?
Certain parts of the track are much louder than others as certain parts of the track allow spectators to get closer to the action.  Also, certain types of race cars are much louder than others (hint: NASCAR is loud). Earplugs are sold in the souvenir shop for $1.00 or $2.00 per pair, the difference is usually that the more expensive ones have a thin cord that attaches one earplug to another (I guess this makes it easier to take them out and/or hold onto them between times you use them during the day as the earplugs are basically designed for one-time use and are not meant to be saved for another day). I would especially recommend them if you have sensitive ears or intend to watch the racing from the spectator sections near the track that are louder. I have found them to be effective.

Can I buy food there?
There are places to buy cooked food as well as typical concession stand snacks and drinks.  My advice is to bring snacks and a picnic lunch as the selection of food for sale is not huge.

How much does it cost?
For 2005, the advance ticket price (prices are higher at the gate) for major race days (i.e. Memorial Day and Independence Day) is $35.00 - $50.00 while prices for days with minor races, practice and/or qualifying can be as low as $15 per day. All tickets includes "paddock" access which allow you to walk around in the area where all the race teams have their trailers and work on their cars. Advance ticket sales are available at Lime Rock Park.

Is there public transportation? How can I get there?
I am not aware of any public transportation options from New York City. To drive from New York City I recommend driving north on the Henry Hudson Parkway and then on the Saw Mill River Parkway (which it turns into) until it's northern terminus where you will get onto Route 684 North.  Take Route 684 north to it's northern terminus and then merge onto Route 22 North.  In the town of Millerton, NY take Route 44 East and then later pick up Route 112 East to Lakeville, CT. The distance from NYC is about 105 miles and with normal traffic should not take more than 2.5 hours.

Is it near Wingdale, NY?
It is about 30? miles (north by northeast) from Wingdale, NY (figure as much as 60 minutes with the traffic you will hit getting into the venue and the fact that the roads between Wingdale, NY and Lime Rock and are not high speed multi-lane divided highways).

Any suggestions regarding what type of camera and film to bring?
Many people had average cameras. The pro's used huge and very expensive "pieces of glass" (i.e. a 400mm f/2.8 or a 600mm f/4) on a sturdy monopod and with their press credentials got even closer to the action than regular spectators can. While anything can work, those with telephoto lenses (the longer the better) should bring them along with fast film (i.e. ISO 200 on a bright day). In the paddock area you can get close up and long lenses not generally needed or appropriate. The photo's below were all taken from general admission areas using lenses up to the equivalent of 600mm on a 35mm camera (only digital SLR's were actually used). Cameras with slow reaction times (i.e. many digital point & shoot cameras) will be frustrating to use during a race. To capture a sense of speed I would recommend not using very fast shutter speeds and panning your camera with the race car(s) as they come by.  A shutter speed of 1/200 might be a reasonable starting point as 1/500 or faster may "freeze" the car(s) onto the track and eliminate a sense of movement.

What is the crowd like? Is it a rowdy redneck crowd? Is it "family friendly"?
It is a typical crowd for a large outdoor event (i.e. a street fair). I would characterize the crowd as safe and family friendly (and many families with children do attend!). Lime Rock currently has a "Kid's Club" with special treats for those under age 12 (see their website for more details). As the race takes place in a small town in a rural part of New England, most people who attend reflect the average all-American / New England type background of the surrounding area. (IMHO, unaccompanied females should feel comfortable). It is a large crowd and while I believe my characterization of it is an accurate general description, any large crowd will have some "colorful" characters.

Is there reserved seating?
No. All tickets are general admission passes to the spectator areas.  You can sit (or walk) almost anywhere. Some people had blankets and/or lawn chairs for picnicking and stayed put all day. It is a large place with a reasonable amount of room for the number of spectators present (most places are much less crowded than the large New York Philharmonic concerts in Central Park).  Overall, I found the crowd level to be comfortable and believe it was not at all hard to stake out personal space for oneself.

Does rain cancel the race?
Typically not and there is no protection against the elements in most of Lime Rock Park. If the day is expected to be very rainy then I would advise considering not bothering to go unless you are very prepared for the elements and a bit adventurous. If much rain is predicted then I personally would probably not bother to go. I do not know what the refund policy is and since most races runs rain or shine, I would expect that there would not be refunds because of inclement weather (but I am only guessing here).

What does it sound like?
Click here to hear a sample (make sure the speakers on your PC are turned up all the way!).

Where can I get more information and buy tickets?
Lime Rock Park's website: http://www.limerock.com/

Spectators in the "outfield". (May 2004)   Spectators at an infield fence.
(May 2004)
Spectators in the "outfield". (July 2004)   Spectators in the "infield". (July 2004)

Spectators in the "infield". (July 2004)


Team Pirelli meets the fans. (July 2004)

Spectators in the "infield". (July 2005)  

Spectators in the infield who brought their own preferred seating. (July 2005)

The paddock. (May 2004)   The winners! (May 2004)
Used race tires are sometimes given away to fans. (May 2004)  

Karting (May 2004)


NASCAR (Busch North Series)
(May 2004)


Formula BMW (May 2004)

Spec Miata Challenge (July 2004)
American LeMans Series (LMP1, LMP2, & GTS classes shown above)  (July 2004)

Four classes run within each American LeMans Series race, LMP1, LMP2, GTS and GT. Three colored lights on the side of each car indicate which series and what place within that series a car is in.   There is a different color for each series. One light indicates 1st place, two lights indicate second place, three lights indicate third place and no lights indicate 4th or a lower place. (The three yellow lights on the side of the car in the left photo above indicate that the car is in the GT class and is in 3rd place within that class).  (July 2004)

Formula SCCA (July 2004)

Formula SCCA (July 2004)

The paddock (July 2004)

Vintage Racing


1940 Maserati 8CL (Sept 2004)


Ferrari (Sept 2004)


(Sept 2004)


1955 Aston-Martin DB3S  (Sept 2004)


Ferrari (Sept 2004)


1969 Ford GT-40 (Sept 2004)


$2.00 Earplugs (Sept 2005)


Click here to see more auto racing photo's
(most shot at Lime Rock Park)

revised: October 3, 2005

Copyright © 2005 Michael Brochstein. All rights reserved.

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