Trans-Am Series racers to 'turn right' at Lime Rock LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- Racing at Lime Rock Park is an integral part of what has become the Trans-Am Series legend. On Monday, May 26, that legend continues at the 1.53-mile permanent road course,...
Trans-Am Series racers to 'turn right' at Lime Rock
LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- Racing at Lime Rock Park is an integral part of what has become the Trans-Am Series legend. On Monday, May 26, that legend continues at the 1.53-mile permanent road course, which hosted its first Trans-Am Series event in 1967. This year's race, part of the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Grand Prix weekend and Round 4 of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, is scheduled for its traditional Memorial Day date.
Lime Rock, known by many as the Trans-Am Series' "short track," is an historic stop for America's oldest continuously running road racing Series. The list of Lime Rock winners reads like a who's who of road racing legends. Renowned drivers like the late Mark Donohue, Scott Pruett, Sam Posey, George Follmer, Parnelli Jones, Dorsey Schroeder, Tommy Kendall, Ron Fellows, Tommy Archer and Boris Said all celebrated in victory lane here.
Of the former winners here, only one active driver in this year's race, Scott Pruett, has a chance for a repeat victory.
The 2002 race marked a return of the Trans-Am Series to Lime Rock Park after a two-year absence. Previously, the Series had raced here 21 times between 1967 and 1999. Said won the 2002 race by 4.566 seconds after starting third and led a Panoz 1-2 sweep as Tony Ave finished second. It was the marque's first 1-2 finish.
However, hadn't it been for mechanical gremlins, the results might have been much different. Stu Hayner won his first Series pole here in 2002 and also set the fastest race lap in his Trenton Forging GMAC Finance Chevrolet Corvette. Hayner, who won a 1997 IMSA race here, led 15 laps before surrendering the point to Said. Hayner finished 13th after being sidelined by a mechanical failure.
This year's race certainly won't disappoint. One returning champion, talented rookies and a host of seasoned veterans are ready to converge on Lime Rock.
Pruett, who has never finished off the podium in his three starts at Lime Rock, left the Trans-Am Series in 1994, going on to success in the Champ Car World Series and NASCAR. This year, Pruett returns to his Trans-Am roots, ready to pick up where he left off. Pruett will drive the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR for Rocketsports Racing and will certainly be a title contender.
During his Trans-Am Series tenure, Pruett has won 15 races, and earned the Drivers' Championship in 1987 and 1994.
"It's a unique track," said Pruett of Lime Rock. "It's a track that you have to really set the car up to turn right. You do not do a straight-up car. There's a unique rhythm at Lime Rock. Once you figure that rhythm out, you can run very well there.
"Going back to Lime Rock is like a homecoming," added Pruett. "Getting back to some of these tracks we didn't get to in the Champ Car World Series or Winston Cup is great. Some of those tracks are just shear fun to drive, and Lime Rock was one of those tracks."
Yet, as Pruett returns to the Series, teammate Johnny Miller seeks to expand on the foundation he's built during his nine-year Trans-Am Career, which began in 1994. Miller has one thing in mind this season--to win that elusive first drivers' title. Miller finished fourth in the title chase last season, and has finished fifth in the championship twice. His best points position was third in 2001.
"I like it at Lime Rock Park," said Miller, whose best finish in five starts at Lime Rock is fourth in 1999. "We've always done pretty well there. It reminds me of a short-track race. It's really fast relative to the terrain. I love the three-dimensional stuff and the terrain changes. I remember last year when Paul (Gentilozzi) and I were running together on the back straightaway. He was on one wheel when we crested the hill, and I don't know how many I was on.
"You set up a car to turn right, just like you'd set up a short-track car to go left," added Miller. "You make everything turn right and you give up the left hander."
Both will have their hands full this season, however, as Hayner, returning to the No. 2 Trenton Forging GMAC Finance Corvette, will put the skills he's honed during his 10-year Trans-Am Series career to use this season. Meanwhile, this year's rookie crop, which includes Hayner's Revolution Motorsports teammate Bobby Sak, Jorge Diaz, Jr. and Joey Scarallo, are seeking to etch their names into the Trans-Am Series legacy. All are hungry for their first Series victory, and winning this season would be a fitting boost to each of the driver's young Trans-Am Series careers.
In addition, Series veterans Michael Lewis, Tomy Drissi, Randy Ruhlman, Simon Gregg, John Baucom, Max Lagod and many others will compete at Lime Rock this year.
Round 4 of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, part of the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Grand Prix weekend, is scheduled for Monday, May 26 beginning at 2 p.m. The race will air live on SPEED Channel.
-scca pro racing/trans am-