by Katharine Erwin
One of the most beautiful race tracks in the country, rich with history and free of corporate plastering, Lime Rock Park is tucked beneath luscious mountains in northwest Connecticut. The precious 1.5 mile track was dubbed the "Secret Valley of Racing" by filmmaker Chris Szwedo and each year for the past 31 years, Lime Rock has hosted its Historic Festival—a gathering of friendly racers, car fanatics and families—rain, hail or shine.
The four-day event, which falls on Labor Day weekend, begins with the Vintage and Race Car Parade. Starting on Thursday on the Sam Posey straight, a heap of magnificent machines—representing various countries, eras and models—speed through country roads at a shocking pace, passing onlookers and adoring neighbors as well as enthusiastic residents of the local retirement home, Noble Horizons. The Parade—showcasing Bugattis, Bimmers, bull cars, muscle cars and everything between—ends in Falls Village, CT, which plays host to a street fair, car show and picnic.
The next two days bring visitors back to the track for practice, qualifying and races. Returning each day may seem like a bit of a feat, but traffic is a breeze, and on-site camping (a great bonus of the track) provides a unique and easy lodging solution.
On Sunday, no race engines are allowed. This very civilized tradition is something that track-owner Skip Barber is proud of. It allows for spectators to walk the track while taking in "Sunday In the Park"—one of the most respected vintage shows, featuring cars that will be raced that weekend along with works of art on par with those of Pebble Beach.
Rounding out the long weekend on Monday, the racing resumes and the roar of rejuvenated vehicles and souls vibrates across the valley. Closing day is bittersweet: For some it maybe their last race, and for others it's the first taste of a newfound passion.
For more shots from the Lime Rock Park Historical Festival check out the slideshow.
Images by Katharine Erwin