Chris Dyson: A lap of Lime Rock

Motorsport.com has asked drivers from the SCCA SPEED World Challenge and the American Le Mans Series to give our readers an insight of some of the 2005 venues that they will compete on. This coming weekend the teams will take to the Lime Rock Park 1.53-mile road course located in Lakeville, Connecticut.

#20 Dyson Racing Team Lola AER: Chris Dyson, Andy Wallace.
Photo by Greg Nichols.
For the Lime Rock race, it seemed only fitting that we ask American Le Mans Series driver Chris Dyson to take our readers are one lap of the race track he and his family call home since the team is based in nearby Poughkeepsie, New York.

Dyson, in his own words, describes a lap around Lime Rock in the Dyson Racing AER Lola EX257 LM P1 car. The son of Rob Dyson, has made his mark as driver in endurance racing as well as being active in the team's operations. In 2004, Dyson made his debut in the Toyota Atlantic Championship series where he runs a limited schedule as the team's primary focus is for the ALMS championship.

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One Lap of Lime Rock
By Chris Dyson

Without giving away too many secrets, Lime Rock is a tricky track with a lot of hidden nook and crannies. The track character has changed a bit over the years with the introduction of some concrete patches. That is a feature that you try to use to your benefit, using the set-up to minimize the concrete's effect on the car as much as possible.

In the Lola, you cross the start-finish line in sixth gear, just touching 165 mph at the end of the front straight, braking around the 350 mark as you approach Big Bend.

The first part of Big Bend is a pretty quick corner - a double apex corner and the first part of it you can come off the brake carrying more speed in than you think. We than accelerate to the second part of Big Bend in third. Brake - down a gear and the corner is slightly banked in your favor but it is concrete and as you exit, there is a crown and it is very important, particularly in the wet, to have the car positioned just right on the crown, because if you are too far to the left and you get on the power, you could drop a wheel. It is not a very forgiving turn.

You want to get a good run off the exit of Big Bend to get into the left hander. Again there is a concrete patch right around the inside and you want to try to get on top of the apex. You are continuing in third gear, just stabbing the brakes.

#20 Dyson Racing Team Lola AER: Chris Dyson, Andy Wallace.
Photo by Greg Nichols.
Turning into the left, you want to make sure to get lined up correctly for the next one, which leads onto No Name Straight. It is an important corner - a right hander - it is somewhat banked and there is another concrete patch in the middle. It is banked on the entry a little bit and it is crowned on the exit so again it is critical to get the entry right so you can set up a good exit. We are doing that with just a lift in our car and in third gear, and than you are up to fourth immediately on the exit.

You will touch fifth on No Name Straight which is really not much of a straight: it is basically a right-left kink but you are flat out. As you go down to the end of No Name, you brake and as you brake, you turn in and let the up hill catch you a little bit. As you are going into the up hill, it knocks some speed off the car. Down two more gears to make the first right of the chicane.

It is very important to get in as quickly as you can, but you have to be very careful not to hit the curbs. If you hit the curbs, you will destroy the front of the car. They are very hard and very high. It is an interesting corner because you are going from asphalt to concrete. Particularly in the early part of the weekend, the chicane is very green because no one else races on the chicane but the ALMS cars, so you have to be cognizant of that but it does tend to grip up as the weekend goes on. You turn into the chicane in second, go to the right to get the car lined up and than around to the left. As soon as you are planted on your feet, you have crested the hill and you accelerate hard. You have to be careful because sometimes you get some wheel spin on the transition between the concrete and asphalt. We try to change up between that transition so that way you are not putting too much strain on the transmission.

You are going to get up to fourth gear by the time you get to West Bend, which is the next right hander. It is a very fast corner. The key is to carry as much momentum through it as possible. You just want to stab the brakes, staying in fourth, turn in and again, there is concrete in the middle. The car develops a bit of an understeer there and you go as quickly as you can without loosing time on the exit.

You are than going down the hill which is incredibly fast in the Lola. The minimum speed through the down hill turn is 140 mph - staggeringly quick. There is a bump in the middle of the corner and the bump can upset the aerodynamics, so you make sure that you are absolutely on the line coming down the hill. The bump is actually closer to the curb, so you just want to try to give yourself a little room there and you are up to fifth gear on the exit and than you start another lap and 48, 49 seconds later, you are back in the same place!

#20 Dyson Racing Team Lola AER: Chris Dyson, Andy Wallace.
Photo by Greg Nichols.
Lime Rock has been good to us: we have been on pole at Lime Rock every time we have raced there since 1998- six consecutive times. We were second and third there last year and we were one, two in 2001.

Lime Rock is interesting because it is much quicker than anyone thinks. It is both an aero track and a mechanical grip track. The down hill and West Bend are very high speed corners, as high sped as any you will see on the circuit over the year, but than you have the section in the infield that places a premium on mechanical grip The track does have at tremendous amount of rhythm to it. Once you get rolling, it very much becomes a momentum track.

I grew up racing at Lime Rock. It is a track that rewards commitment. It is a Dyson Racing favorite, not just because it is the home track but because it has a fantastic layout and you have to be on your game at Lime Rock.

I have raced there at least a dozen times. I learned to race there: I raced my first ever club race there and my first ever national race win. There are a lot of fond memories surrounding Lime Rock: it is in a beautiful setting and it is home for me.