Summer Life
- Page 14
Roar of Engines (and Crowds)
BY ROGER CLEAVELAND
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

The summer auto racing scene in Connecticut has gradually been changing the past few years as tracks have tried to adapt to survive in the very competitive battle for the entertainment dollar. The end result has been more streamlined schedules of events, but higher quality experiences as the tracks have put money into their facilities and beefed up the events they hold to provide a better overall fan experience.

Lime Rock Park and Thompson Motor Speedway have spearheaded the change in the racing landscape while Stafford has provided stability for race fans with a consistent Friday night race show that draws the best NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers throughout New England.
Lime Rock has spent millions of dollars over the last few years to enhance the fan experience by making facility improvements that benefit fans twofold. First of all, the track has created better sightlines for the racing and built new spectator viewing areas around the 1.5-mile track to give fans different perspectives they were never able to enjoy.

Lime Rock has also upgraded bathroom facilities and repaved the racing paddocks, making it much easier and comfortable for fans to get around the track and get up close to the cars and drivers that race there.

Such enhancements have allowed the track to continue to bring the most prominent road racing series to Connecticut. The sports car series have improved over the last five years and put demands on tracks to make improvements to better showcase their racing. The most recent improvement at Lime Rock is new spectator viewing areas throughout the facility. Those fans used to sitting exclusively on the outfield or infield spectator hills should do themselves a favor and explore new spectator viewing areas that give a different perspective on the race.

Lime Rock continues to host four major events each summer into the fall with a Memorial Day weekend of spectacular GT sports car racing, a June SCCA New England championship, a blockbuster IMSA July show of GT and Prototype racing and then a Labor Day weekend Historic Festival with 10 classes of more than 250 vintage race cars.

The heart of the summer racing, as usual, will take place at Stafford which boasts a weekly, highly-competitive Friday night race card with five divisions of racing (SK Modified, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models and Street Stocks). While other tracks have gone to a limited number of regular racing series days, Stafford remains the constant Friday night place to be week in and week out.

The half-mile track at Stafford also hosts NASCAR’s best regional racing series in the Northeast, the Whelen Modified Tour, three times this year and regularly features other touring series and major events.

Stafford is the home track for most of Greater Waterbury’s serious racers and race fans as it regularly offers the greatest car counts and variety of competitive racing from the season-opening Spring Sizzler in late April through the Fall Final in early October.

Thompson Speedway offers racing in four divisions (Sunoco Modified, Late Model, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock) sporadically and also offers a variety of other racing shows throughout the summer and into the fall. In terms of big events, Thompson hosts NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour on four occasions this year, and hosts a

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