It's been called a bullring and a short track with hills, but perhaps Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin's description of Lime Rock Park is the most accurate: "It's like stepping into a gladiatorial arena."
Gavin (left) and his Corvette Racing teammates will take on the shortest circuit on the ALMS schedule when they contest the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix this Saturday, July 24. After missing last year's Lime Rock round while preparing for the debut of the GT2-spec Corvette C6.R, Corvette Racing will be in the midst of the raging GT war this weekend on the tight 1.51-mile, 10-turn course. With entries in four classes sharing the same ribbon of asphalt and lap times under one minute, the action promises to be fast and furious.
"Lime Rock is a track where every lap in every session will be a battle," Gavin said. "Contact with other cars is almost inevitable, and it will be extremely difficult to have a clean race. The track is tight, bumpy, and low grip in places, so it's a real, real challenge. The corners come thick and fast, and the traffic is right there all the time. It's aggressive racing, and you feel almost like a gladiator fighting for your life."
Gavin and his co-driver Olivier Beretta won the GT1 class three times at Lime Rock in their Compuware Corvette C6.R, while teammates Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen were victorious in Corvette Racing's last appearance in GT1 at the Connecticut track in 2008. The only blemish on Corvette Racing's otherwise perfect record at Lime Rock came in 2006 when Pedro Lamy's Aston Martin beat O'Connell to the stripe by .033sec, still the closest finish in ALMS history.
"All my experience at Lime Rock is with the GT1 Corvette," said Magnussen. "We had tremendous downforce and the car was fast and super quick going down the hill. With the GT2 specification, I expect we'll be sliding the car a lot more. I'm actually looking forward to it!"
Lime Rock Park has been a mainstay of sports car racing in New England for more than 50 years. The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will continue this rich tradition of Corvettes competing in the Berkshire Hills.
"Lime Rock Park is not only one of the most storied venues in the history of the American Le Mans Series, but also in American road racing," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "When you consider the greats who raced there, drivers like Mark Donohue, Al Holbert, Paul Newman, and so many others, it's clear that Lime Rock is woven into the fabric of road racing in America."