Grab the bull by the horns at Lime Rock Park
I’m sure that when Limerock Park first opened in the spring of 1957, there were few people who thought that this 1.5 mile racetrack would still be operating and considered a bucket list destination 60 years later. Nestled in the rolling hills of northwest Connecticut, the track layout has not changed much over the years, and the racers who go there realize what an opportunity it is to race on the same historic circuit that many of the great ones did.
The course layout looks simple, but is actually quite challenging with the up hill and down hill, and a fast, 180-degree corner at the end of the straight. Developing a rhythm is important, and there is no rest for the weary. There is a reason why the nickname for the track is “The Bulls Ring”. The front straight is fast, but relatively short, and can hold speeds well over 100mph.
“Big Bend” Turn 1 & 2
Coming down the short front straight, you’ll be in 4th gear, 5th if you get a good run off of the downhill. You are braking at the 2 marker, and basically trail braking as you start making your way to the apex, shifting to 3rd gear. Hit the Turn 1 apex in the center of the curbing. I personally stay off the rumbles though. Stay inside for the rest of Turn 1 until the apex of Turn 2, where the exit falls off. The faster line is to stay tight and try not to wash out to mid track. It is difficult to judge where to start tracking out in Turn 2. The apex is later on the curbing. You also will probably get oversteer exiting, and you don’t need to go all the way right for the only left hander on the track.
Some racers take a high line in Turn 3, which is not the fastest. Do a straight line brake to get the car settled, staying in 3rd gear. Turn in tight and do not exit more than the middle of the track to try and set yourself up for the next turn, a right-hander, and then you can carry speed to the straight.
Turn 4 to “No Name Straight”
Make sure you are far left for the turn in. Using no brakes and a little lift of the gas, you can hit the inside curbing, but be cautious as it is aggressive. Track-out as far out as you can to carry speed. There is a kink in the straight where you can grab 4th gear. When you really nail the exit, you will feel a flow from exit to the kink with very little steering change.
Turn 5 “The Uphill”
This is a fast, critical turn with a crazy, blind up hill right-hander. It’s a fun turn, but not a lot of people know how to take it fast. It’s a fast entry 4th gear turn. You can take this with no brakes if you have the guts! Most setups can use a very light brake and let the turn scrub the speed entering it. Stay off the inside curbing. Track out as far as you can until you hit the top of the hill with the steering wheel straight. Keep soft hands because the car will be very light. If not, you can definitely lose the rear end.
Turn 6 “West Bend”
You just need a light drag of the brakes entering the turn. The inside apex curbing is a big NO-NO! This is a basic turn with a good amount of curbing on the exit and is good in 4th gear. It sets you up for the Down Hill.
Turn 7 “The Down Hill”
Get ready; the elevation from West Bend to the Down Hill turn is a six-story drop. There is a lot of G force in this turn. You can do this turn flat-out if you don’t get a good run from West Bend, or if you’re just a little daring. However, most racers usually lift a little. The apex is early to middle. You can get onto the curbing at the apex, but get ready for a little counter steer. Once you hit the apex, don’t look at your track out, but look at the starter stand on the front straight. I didn’t believe this tip would work, but when I tried it, it worked! You can use a good amount of curbing on the track out.
A good lap would be in the 1:03’s. I was lucky enough to reset the record with a 1:02.762. Tenths matter here and when everything works well, you will feel a flow throughout the lap. Limerock is definitely my favorite racetrack, and I hope you get the opportunity to drive there one day.