5 Excellent Cars from Lime Rock Park's Vintage Race Weekend
So as I've detailed earlier, my Labor Day weekend at Lime Rock kicked ass. If any of you have an inclination to be one with automotive history, a throwback race like this is the place to do it. You just don't get the kind of experience that you would from going to a tired old car show. The supposed "best" of the car shows are all trailer queens that never get to roam free, like a kid who saves his G.I. Joes until he's forty. Meanwhile, all the cool kids are out racing, and the sound, smell, and sight of these vintage race cars at speed is like nothing you can find a pristine museum or snooty concours. These guys don't even know what the hell a museum is. They are a great group of people, driving insanely cool cars. Here are five of the best that I saw while I was at Lime Rock Historic Festival 2012: 5) Porsche 911 RS (click here for more)
This awesome 911 was in the "Hippie" livery, made famous by the Porsche 917LH. Any list that starts out with a classic 911 RS is a good list.
4) 1966 Jaguar E-Type (click here for more)
I've met Doug Fraser, the driver of this Jag E-Type on a number of occasions. Whenever I try to explan the importance of vintage racing to others, I use a quote he shared from the first time we met: "The guys who keep the cars in perfect condition have a place, just like the guys who never take their toys out of the box to preserve value…I'm the one who is blowing up my toy soldiers in the back yard with firecrackers." Ah, to be a vintage racer.
3) 1964 Corvette Grand Sport (click here for more)
In the land of the Vette, these are the monsters of which we do not speak. Most of these bad boys used a 377 cubic inch aluminum small block with a quintet of Weber side-draft carbs. They made about 550 horsepower, and in some case, more. This does not appear to be one of the original Grand Sports- it would have had fixed headlights at the corners instead of the stock flip-ups, but this guy gets it with the power-dome hood and wide stance.
2.) 1978 Lotus 79
Sometimes the machine is more famous than the man, and sometimes it's the other way around. This car was campaigned by Mario Andretti in the 1978 and 1979 Formula One seasons. In the first year with the car, he won the Formula One Championship, taking four overall wins. So you may think that the man is more famous than the car, but in F1 circles, the 79 is one of the most significant cars in the history of the sport. It was the first F1 car to fully employ the ground effects (read: wings), and the kinks that had been worked out in that respect from its predecessor, the Lotus 78. It was also the first F1 car to be designed in a wind tunnel and using computer models. It also used computers to track its performance in practice- the first F1 car to do so. In many respects, this car changed the course of Formula One.
1) 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL (click here for more)
I am in love with the BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile". In a weekend where I took more than 700 photos, perhaps 150 of them were of this car alone. Forget F1, this car changed the sport of auto racing, dominating its competition and putting BMW Motorsport on the map. You would not have BMW passing out the M moniker to crossovers like the X6 M and X5 M, without the brand having such a cache and mystique as cornerstoned by the CSL's dominance in the early years. This weekend, the CSL was the only BMW in a class shared by the above E-Type and Corvette. It schooled them both, lapping the E-Type, and most of the field for that matter. The 3-liter straight-six made an unbelievable shriek which you would be excused for mistaking as the sound of all of the other V8's in the class wailing in defeat. This car rocks.
Check out more fantastic vintage race cars from Sir Stirling Moss' private collection here.