A few weeks ago, as I was pulling out of the kiddy drop-off line, I had this intense urge to slam my foot on the gas and speed down the straight that led from my kid’s high school to our home. As my heart raced, I lifted my foot from the gas and the words “Lime Rock” popped into my head. Giddy for a moment, my next adventure started to unfold.
Now for the uninitiated, Lime Rock Park is 1.5-mile road track nestled in the Berkshire mountains. Built in 1956, the small, yet cleverly complex track attracts race fans, driving enthusiasts and automotive legends alike. Fans enjoy adrenaline-charged days perched on lush green hills while club members use their track time to practice and perfect their skills.
Why do the racing Gods lap at Lime Rock Park? I’m pretty sure it’s the art and the science behind the 1.5-mile track. This isn’t a giant oval; it takes years of practice and a bit of a wild spirit to master the twists and turns of this magical roadway.
So what would make a 50 year-old widowed mother of triplets think “Lime Rock”? Speed baby! I like to drive fast. Sometimes, it’s a bit problematic. However, that cool fall morning, I knew I had to find a place where I could shake the cobwebs from my soul and put the pedal to the metal. The devil however, is often in the details.
First, I’ll start by saying, I was thrilled with the kindness that was extended by the Lime Rock team; they responded to my request to drive their track with pure enthusiasm. While I questioned my ability, they merely questioned timing. You see, they knew what I was about to learn; that the coaches at Lime Rock Park are the racing masters who would take my day-dream and turn it into the experience of a life time. Confident and excited, I cancelled meetings, secured child care and plotted my trip.
The next two weeks flew by like driving the Sam Posey Straight and, before I knew it, I was entering Lime Rock Park. Ushered into the Chalet, I was introduced to my hosts and a band of individuals from the Lime Rock Driving Club that can best be described as energetic and kind. With fast cars and a tricky track waiting to be mastered; the room was buzzing with excitement.
Feeling at home, I settled into a delicious lunch with my coach; while he chatted about his experience and his family, I contemplated letting him drive Miss Daisy (aka me) around the track a few times and calling it a day. Dawdling over costume changes, earring removal and multiple trips to the loo, I’d run out of excuses when my coach said it was time to drive to the paddock.
Happily hopping into my mom-mobile, we drove down to meet my new ride; a sleek, gutted, spec Miata convertible; perfect for beginners. Heavily helmeted, I opened the door, navigated the roll bars and slipped into the passenger seat where we started the buckling process. Now, this is where my mothering skills served me well; securing yourself into a car that will exceed 115 MPH is like buckling your baby into a car seat for the first time. There are cross your lap and over your shoulder straps that are inserted and locked into a rapid release buckle positioned between your legs. As you buckle you tighten, if you can breathe, the belts aren’t tight enough. If your door is still open, you have to un-tangle and start over. Got it?
Securely positioned, I’m positive the belting strategy was the only thing keeping my heart in my chest. As we move to exit the pit my coach explains a few crucial items that I will humbly translate for your edification; first there are rules, safety is paramount. Next, the key to Lime Rock Park, is driving the line. I was halfway back to New Jersey before the power of driving the line fully penetrated my brain.
For you, I’m going to make it simple; what’s the fastest route between two points? A line.
How do you drive the line through Big Bend, the Left Hander and the Right Hander?
So take a deep breath and buckle your seat belts — you’re in for a wild ride!
Now, I’m listening intently as my coach tells me EXACTLY what to do; exit the pit into traffic that’s flying down the Sam Posey Straight. Go faster! The other drivers see you and they know what to do. Brake. Add power. Lift. Turn.
Did you know that when you lift your foot from the gas and enter a curve the front of the car plants on the roadway and rides the curve? While you’re contemplating the physics, my foot is on the gas again, brake, lift, add power.
Next, I zip into No Name Straight, which to me, wasn’t exactly “straight”. Powering up I fly into the Uphill. Uphill? Holy cow, I take a leap of faith and press the gas pedal blindly until I crest the top of the hill where the roadway comes back into view. Soaring into the West Bend I execute another brake, lift, power sequence easing into the Down Hill that leads to the Sam Posey Straight.
This was my chance to really fly!
At my best, I raced towards Big Bend at 100 MPH. The gas pedal was floored and I had no more run room to increase my speed.
Technically, if I’d executed West Bend more efficiently, I would have entered the Downhill in a better speed position. Thinking backwards, if I really shot the line in No Name Straight I would have flown Uphill and into West Bend correctly. Honestly, it could take years of practice to navigate the Left Hander and the Right Hander as you have to sacrifice driving the line techniques in one; to properly execute the other.
But look at that happy face! So…
Pursue your passions.
Try new things.
AND make every moment count!
Have a great week,
I’d like to thank the kind and talented team at Lime Rock Park; your faith in me fueled my inspiration! Coach, your skill in teaching is only lapped by your undeniable patience. You’re right, the fans that enjoy the racing fun from the grassy hills week after week would absolutely trade places with me in a second. Yes, I’m grateful for the opportunity!
Lime Rock Drivers Club? Hello! Thank you for making me feel unbelievably welcome!
Gearhead Girls Racing? Thank you the inspirational tag “find your line”.
Finally, I’ve made some new friends; thank you for your generous spirit and kind hospitality!