Article by John Naitove. Photography by Cooper Naitove.
The first things one notices while roaming the paddock at the Lime Rock Historic Festival are the diversity, age and rarity of the cars on display and in competition. You can see everything from pre-war Blower Bentleys to one-off circle track cars—name a brand and it will be there. This includes cars that many people have never heard of, but it also includes cars that you would never think would be raced at all.
After being overwhelmed by the cars in attendance, one begins to notice subtle differences among competitors. Chief among them is the contrast between those who haul their cars to the track in trailers and do all their own wrenching, sometimes camping at the track as well, and those whose cars are delivered to the track in huge trucks by turnkey race prep companies.
These companies store the cars, provide all the body, mechanical and prep work, and maintain the cars at the track. They also provide lavish trackside buffets for their customers who basically show up in their expensive road-going Ferraris, McLarens, Porsches, etc., and drive off in them after the race is over, while their race cars get loaded back onto the trucks and returned to the shops.
Whether you are one type or the other, the differences end when the checkered flag falls. In the end, regardless of how the car got there and who put it together, it’s about the driver. For these drivers, it's not about driving the fastest car; it's about pushing that particular car to the limit. In the early days of vintage racing, owners just wanted to have fun driving their old cars on a racecourse.
Over the years though, the racing has become more serious. This 10/10ths driving has brought the potential for dangerous crashes as these older cars do not have the safety protection of modern race cars. Unfortunately, the festivities of this weekend were marred by just such an occurrence: the tragic and untimely death of Lee Duran, whose MG-PA flipped several times at the bottom of the downhill turn ending his life on Saturday. Fittingly, the races on Labor Day were dedicated to his memory.