Just returned from the Lime Rock Trans-Am, the race was great. Dorsey Schroeder won by a large margin, but the event was action packed. For the first time in recent memory the race was run without one caution period, and due to the cool and...
Just returned from the Lime Rock Trans-Am, the race was great. Dorsey Schroeder won by a large margin, but the event was action packed. For the first time in recent memory the race was run without one caution period, and due to the cool and overcast conditions track records were shattered. The previous race record of 101.74 mph, set by Ron Fellows in 1992, was blown away and now stands at 106.80 mph. Boris Said, driving a Roush Mustang, broke the lap record with a speed of 107.09 mph, breaking the mark set last year of 106.36.
Since the race ran green for the entire distance one of the major factors was lapped traffic. The cars basically fell into several speed groups, with the fastest consisting of Schroeder, Fellows, Said, Kendall, and Greg Pickett. That group pulled away from the rest of the field fairly easily. Brian Simo was able to keep up early but had brake problems and faded as the race progressed. Scott Sharp, Jamie Galles, and Paul Gentalozzi had their own race going, but couldn't keep up with the lead pack. Then came the well funded independants of RJ Valentine, Jon Gooding, Dale Phelon, and Bill Saunders. Saunders was the class of this group until mechanical failure cost him a few laps in the pits. Then the rest of the locals and independant drivers strung out behind.
Kendall had the usual pit stop, punctured tire, and fell almost a lap back. That left Fellows, Schroeder and Said to contest the lead. Previously Said had gotten by Kendall and it was beginning to look like Tommy was having trouble staying with Dorsey and Fellows. Fellows got a run on Schroeder coming down the hill onto the main straight and passed going into the big bend, but Dorsey hung on until he had to back off or lose second place to Pickett. Pickett ran very well and hung onto the leaders for a while, but by the halfway point he was slowly losing touch with the trio of leaders.
When Kendall got out of the pits he really turned it up and when I was taking splits he was pulling away from the lead trio (again he was 5 seconds from being lapped when exiting the pits) by over a second a lap. At this point the running order was Fellows, Schroder, and Said bumper to bumper; Pickett and Simo each far apart; Galles and Gentalozzi dueling eachother; Bill Saunders, alone; Valentine and Phelon nose to tail; Gooding struggling and Kendall rocketing up from behind.
Traffic played a major factor in the race in many cases. Some veteran guys like Don Sak would let the front runners pass easily while many others didn't. But the major traffic problem occurred when the lead trio hit the Valentine/Phelon duel. Those two were fighting hard, in very fast cars, and only marginally slower. A bad combination at LRP. This situation allowed Kendall to move from sixth to third on one lap.
Poor Brian Simo really got hurt by this. He started 6th and looked strong early, but faded from the lead pack. He ran alone for most of the race and after Fellows and Said retired with rear-end problems looked like a lock for the podium in third. Then he came up on the Valentine and Phelon battle. With bad brakes he was unable to get by allowing the trio of Gentalozzi, Galles, and Kendall, all running together, to catch him. In a clot of lapped cars catching lapped cars Gentalozzi got squeezed off the road Galles got stuck in the wrong lane, and Kendall vaulted by everyone to capture third. Gentalozzi limped home in sixth.
I talked to Simo after the race and he indicated that the brake fluid had turned black. Simo, Tom Gloy and Simo's crew chief were all studying the master cylinder contents looking very puzzled. He was very disappointed as no one could explain the problem at that point. The even brought Bill Fingerlow over to look at the master cylinder.
Dorsey won the race in a walk after Fellows lost the rear-end (the malady of the day) and Greg Pickett followed in second, also way ahead of Kendall in third. Simo held fourth with Galles rounding out the top five. Scott Sharp broke the rear-end and pitted twice winding up 12th. Boris Said broke an axle or part of the rear-end and retired after 52 laps.
Boris told me that he felt the car get loose and thought he had a tire going down. He pitted but soon learned that he only had power to one wheel. He limped back to the pits and called it a day. "I was having fun out there," Boris told me. "It was too bad."
"Ronnie and I went flat out all day," said race winner Schroeder. "The tires were never a factor. We got hung up in traffic and all of a sudden he (Fellows) pulled over, I think he broke something in the rear-end."
On saturday Tom Gloy when I commented on Dorsey's 5th place quailfication spot that would put him on the pole for the race indicated that, "We knew we were in the ball park, so we weren't trying too hard to improve (our times)." After the race Tom Gloy indicated that they were very happy with the win and that "Dorsey always runs well here (Lime Rock)."
This was the largest crowd I have EVER seen at Lime Rock, and that was great to see.... but they HAVE to do SOMETHING about getting people out after the race. The gridlock was terrible.