Homeward Bound: Dyson Racing & Lime Rock Weaver & Leitzinger Look to Continue Winning Streak POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, June 30, 2004 - The deed to Lime Rock Park may have track-owner Skip Barber's name on it, but for the past decade...
Homeward Bound: Dyson Racing & Lime Rock
Weaver & Leitzinger Look to Continue Winning Streak
POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, June 30, 2004 - The deed to Lime Rock Park may have track-owner Skip Barber's name on it, but for the past decade the picturesque northwestern Connecticut road-racing circuit's annual prototype sportscar races have been owned - lock, stock and barrel - by Dyson Racing teammates James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger. In the six prototype races that have been run at Lime Rock since 1996, Weaver has won the pole position for every one, and in the three most recent events - 1999, 2000, and 2001 - he and Leitzinger have teamed up to win the race in a Dyson Racing entry.
So, does this make Weaver and Leitzinger the favorites for this weekend's American Le Mans Series New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock? "Well, I suppose it does," Weaver admitted. After identifying the Champion Audi of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, and Dyson teammates Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson as tough competition, Weaver did admit "I do think that we have a bit of an edge this time. Our Thetford / Norcold Lola is much lighter than the Audi that's our toughest competition, and that tends to make it very good in high-speed corners, and at Lime Rock that's pretty much all of them.
"The Audi accelerates extremely well and has an excellent top speed, but Lime Rock is more of a momentum track, and that's good for us. I think it will be a very tough race, and quite exciting for the spectators. We really do want to do well at Lime Rock, because the team will have lots of friends and family at the track. And Butch and I want to make up for last weekend at Mid-Ohio, where we won the pole and then lost the oil pump on the pace lap. Winning at Lime Rock would do a lot to make us feel better about that."
Home Court Advantage?
When it comes down to why Weaver, a driver for Dyson Racing since 1987, has always been so quick at Lime Rock, he smiles. "Since it's our home track, with all the friends and family out supporting us, I've always treated Lime Rock as one of the most important races on Dyson Racing's schedule. We always seem to have a good car there, and I do love the track."
Team owner Rob Dyson, who cut his racing teeth at Lime Rock in Sports Car Club of America events, has a theory about Weaver's speed.
"James is just a terrific driver," Dyson said. "And while the track seems simple with only six turns in 1.5 miles, it's deceptively simple. It's easy to find your way around Lime Rock, but tough to really figure it out. You're always going fast at Lime Rock, and there are no slow corners. Chassis and aerodynamic setups are critical, both of which James is very good at. Because the track is short, traffic is always a factor, and James is very good in traffic. And he just absolutely gets everything there is out of the car. If you think about it, his success at Lime Rock is no mystery."
Not that teammate Leitzinger is a slouch at getting around the tricky Lime Rock track. At 35 the talented Pennsylvanian is in the prime of his racing career. In addition to his three sports prototype wins with Weaver at Lime Rock, Leitzinger in 1994 won NASCAR's Busch North stock-car race at Lime Rock. (That same year he scored the first of his three Daytona 24-hour victories, and captured the NASCAR Busch North race at the Watkins Glen road circuit.)
"I like Lime Rock a lot," Leitzinger said. "I grew up racing there and it's an extra-special place for us. James and I make a good team. Our driving styles are similar so we pretty much like the same setup on the car. I think we're going to do well again this year."
Winning Heritage at Lime Rock
History does seem to favor the Dyson squad. The team's very first prototype race was at Lime Rock, in 1985, with a Porsche 962. That afternoon 19 years ago Drake Olson brought the Dyson car into the winner's circle after a rugged race-long battle with the Jaguar of legendary driver Brian Redman in one of the most exciting races in Lime Rock's 47-year history.
"That was a real thrill," Rob Dyson recalls. "Our guys have won a lot of races over the years, but that's one of them that really stands out. What a way to get started in prototype racing.
"Still, when the green flag drops, it doesn't matter how many times you've won before, the winner's going to be the car that gets to the checkered flag first."
Friends and Family
But as stick-and-ball players know, it helps to have a big cheering section. For the members of a race team that travels the length and breadth of America over the course of a season, it's great to
race near home and have a chance to commute to work each morning. And it's very special to have your friends and family come to the track and watch the race in person instead of on television. So, if you think everyone at Dyson Racing is pleased to be at Lime Rock Park, you'd be right.
"Let me count the ways we're happy to be racing at Lime Rock," said team owner Rob Dyson. "We can practically drive home for lunch. Seriously, our shop is less than an hour's drive from the track. It's a place we know so well, and which has provided us with so many good memories. I raced there from the beginning of my driving career, and we've won a lot of races over the years at Lime Rock. Chris did his drivers' school there. It's just like a second home to all of us on the team. It's very special to be going back there after three years without prototype races. I think the ALMS will put on a helluva good show there this weekend."