Through The Esses - Lime Rock - Where The Yellow Diesels Roar
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June 21, 2008
© Andrew S. Hartwell

Construction, or rather the re-construction of Lime Rock Park is well along now. The first sounds of diesel engines echoing off the surrounding Berkshire hills comes not from the engine bays of the sleek silver Audi Le Mans prototypes, but instead from big, square, yellow Caterpillar tractors. The mega-movers have been busy sculpting the hillsides and leveling the hallowed ground here ever since the first day after the Memorial Day weekend. When the last transporter carrying a Grand-Am GT car had pulled out, the bulldozers were fired up and now, nearly four weeks later, the facility is right smack at the half way point of a major facelift.

We visited the grounds of this historic circuit this weekend to get an up close look at how this 51 year old facility is being plowed and leveled and surfaced into shape to make it as up to date in appearance as any peer circuit in North America. And from what we saw on our tour today, graciously arranged by Renea Topp, the Marketing and PR Manager, we can say we are at the redline of excitement over what is to come.

The official website for Lime Rock Park ( outlines the general plan for the project as follows:

The entire Classic Lime Rock Park will be paved, the Optional Uphill and West Bend corners will be built and paved, the new entrance completed and two new spectator areas created. We're using asphalt millings to pave the road into the overflow parking in Lights Field and all the dirt roads in the Infield. No more dirt and dust, which is particularly good for campers. In addition, we have rebuilt the interiors of both hospitality Chalets and hope to finish the roof over the ticket taking area.

We have done an as built survey with the goal of replicating the cambers, banking, lack of both, etc. trying to exactly recreate the Classic track (minus the concrete patches and bumps). This is being done to the utmost capability of the machinery and as humanly possible for the physical labor involved.

The circuit will be ready for the ALMS race weekend. ALMS will run the Optional Uphill and the Optional West Bend. These two additions will also provide great viewing areas.

As we walked the grounds, camera in hand, (Album here ) we were amazed at just how much earth was being moved, dug, lifted, pushed and carried. And it was remarkable to see just how many people were driving pay loaders and dump trucks and steamrollers all in concert to get this massive undertaking completed in time for the ALMS race weekend in July.

Topp passed along this updated information on the status of little Lime Rock's version of Boston's famous Big Dig'.

The plan is to do 90 days of work in 31 days to be ready for the American Le Mans Series, 11-12 July, as they will be the first professional series to run Optional Lime Rock. What everyone can expect for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix race weekend is this: Classic Lime Rock Park will be paved, the Optional Uphill and West Bend corners have been built and will be paved, the new entrance will be completed and two new spectator areas created.

Skip Barber was on site when we were there, and we understand he has been keeping an eye on this project every day since the first yellow behemoth started flattening a large section of the former spectator area at the uphill. He reiterated the seriousness with which this $5 million construction project started, and how he expects the fans will come to love what Lime Rock will become.

This project is no small potatoes. A lot of effort, time and money has gone into the planning and execution of preserving Lime Rock Park. We might not get it right the first time. I would think a lot of massaging still has to happen over the summer and winter. But I will say, the American Le Mans Series race weekend is going to be<