Labor Day weekend in New England signifies the unofficial end of summer. Soon, the leaves will turn their millions of shades of yellows and reds and cooler, crisper air will move into the area as autumn takes hold, a forewarning of colder, more hostile weather to come. So, if Labor Day weekend is the end of summer, then leave it to Lime Rock Park to save the best for last.
The 32nd Lime Rock Park Historic Festival, which took place from August 28 through September 1, was a five-day homage to everything automotive and motorsport from the past 100 years. Everything from pre-war Grand Prix cars and early Indy racers, to the thunderous ground shaking roar of big bore GT cars from the 60s and Can-Am cars from the 70s were on track multiple times throughout the event, delighting older spectators with reminders of the “good ol’ days,” while also introducing the roots of motorsport to a new generation of petrolheads.
Spectators were treated to a huge racing field. The 265 entrants were split into 9 groups. Each group had four races, two on Saturday and two on Monday, affording fans plenty of opportunity to see their favorites being driven in anger.
Among the many notable racing machines in attendance were a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT, a pair of pre-war Alfa Romeo Grand Prix racers: a 1931 Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3 and a 1935 Alfa Romeo 8C 35, a 1964 Porsche 904 GTS, and a 1973 March – BMW Formula 2.
With racing on Saturday and Monday, the meat of the Lime Rock Historic’s sandwich has to be the world-class Sunday in the Park Concourse d’elegance and Gathering of the Marques car show. Over the last few years this part of the event has become a must see and 2014 was no different.
This year’s Sunday in the Park Concourse featured 224 shining examples which were presented and judged in 29 classes.
When the judging was complete and the results had been tabulated, it was the 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 owned by Peter Sachs of Stamford, CT, that won the overall Best of Show. The stellar yellow-cream car had been entered in Class 3, “Risky but Racy, competition machines of merit pre-1945.”
This car was delivered to Tazio Nuvolari for the 1933 24 Hours of Le Mans; Alfa Romeo teamed Nuvolari with Raymond Sommer (who didn’t trust Nuvolari with the car!). In the race, they built a two-lap lead but had to pit due to a fuel leak, said to have been plugged with chewing gum. Nuvolari broke the lap record nine times and won the 24 hour race by about a quarter of a mile.
Other notable class winners included a 1965 Cobra Mark 1, owned by Roger Werner, which took top honors in Class 12, “A Sporting Proposition, sports cars 1962 – 1970,” while in Class 24, “No Holds Barred, Victory at all Costs – Post-war Competition Machines,” James Glickenhaus’ Daytona winning 1967 Ferrari 330 P3/4 was not only a winner, but a huge crowd favorite.
The People’s Choice award went to a rare 1926 Kissel Speedster, owned by Andrew Benenson, while the Ronald McDonald House Kid’s Choice was awarded to the 1967 Lamborghini P400 Miura owned by Lee Barba.
Another huge draw of the Sunday in the Park show is the cars of the featured collector, and this year’s featured collector was none other than Ralph Lauren, who had on display 5 immaculate examples from his world renowned collection: a 1953 Morgan Flat Rad, which was purchased in 1986 and is the car that started his collection, a Jackie Stewart raced 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, a 1929 Birkin Blower Bentley, his incomparable 1956 Jaguar XKSS, and a 1959 Porsche RSK. One of the coolest features of the weekend for the spectators was that these cars were displayed under a tent and fans could take an audio tour narrated by Lauren himself. Since only a limited number of people were allowed under the tent at a time, you could get a close up look at all the cars without feeling rushed or crowded.
On a tragic note, Lee Duran, 73, of Lyme, CT, was killed in a one car accident when he lost control of his car in the downhill section of the racetrack. Mr Duran was driving his 1934 MG PA Special, car no. 305, during the second race for group 2, “Pre-war Sports and Racing Cars.”
Witnesses stated the car flipped multiple times in the accident, eventually landing on its side. CPR was administered at the track and Mr. Duran was transferred via ambulance to Sharon Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Duran was a self-made, self-employed, retired architect and entrepreneur who had been racing cars for nearly 50 years. He was married to his college sweetheart, Judith, for 52 years and was a prominent member of his community.
A statement from Lime Rock Park read, “Lime Rock in particular and the world’s racing fraternity in general are deeply saddened by the accident that claimed Lee Duran’s life. A long time racer, Lee will be missed deeply”
This was the first fatality in the 32 year history of the Lime Rock Park Historic Festival.
Drivers know the risk they take when they get behind the wheel, but fatalities are no less tragic, especially when it happens to an amateur simply participating in the sport he loves.
All of our deepest condolences go out to Judith Duran and the rest of the Duran family in this time of extreme sadness.