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Vintage cars will roar at Lime Rock Park

Labor Day weekend at Lime Rock Park is the vintage weekend, officially. This year, it’s known as Lime Rock Vintage Festival 29 Presented by Jaguar.

More than 300 classic cars from all over the world will race in 12 groups, from pre-war to the 1950s and 1960s. There will also be open-wheelers from the 1960s and 1970s.

Jags and MGs will also race exclusively (and there will be a parade of MGs in Falls Village and Salisbury on Sept. 1).

About 600 cars will be showcased at the Sunday in the Park Concours at the track.

There are subtleties that add to what makes this weekend special. Unlike series racing, the pits won’t be filled with parts trailers and teams of mechanics. Along with vintage car racers from as far away as Australia, “ordinary” folks from around here will show up with some of the most extraordinary vehicles, kept in top condition in garages just off the roads we drive every day.

This week’s Lakeville Journal has profiles of some of these cars and their owners. Click here to view, "For vintage racer, it's all about taking time to enjoy life".

Click here to view second story, "The All-American Watson".


 

NORTH CANAAN — Jaguars. It’s the name of their business and all one will find in an old sawmill turned auto shop filled with cars in various stages of restoration.

Thomas Jaycox senior and junior will be racing consecutively numbered Jaguar XKs during vintage weekend at Lime Rock. About a year and a half ago, they moved to North Canaan from Stony Brook, Long Island. The decision to move was mainly about finding a suitable property as close to Lime Rock Park as possible.

They have a lot to say about the merits of the track, its beauty  and the way it is run. What it comes down to though is the setting is a throwback to a time when racing was a “gentleman’s sport.”

Their open cockpit racers, with the massive front ends, are both in the original nearly black shade of green that once distinguished British cars on the racetrack.

Despite technology and a newly tweaked course, the 1953 XKC034 and 1954 XK120 just look right on the tree-lined racetrack, where spectators picnic on the grassy hillsides.

“It was the Golden Era of racing,” Jaycox Sr. said of the period of their cars. “Back in the day when cars were privately campaigned by the owners, and sponsorship was not allowed.”

The pair talked about the years that followed World War II, when military-trained mechanics applied the advancements gleaned by necessity during the war to race car engines.

Unbuckling the leather straps on one hood, they reveal a six-cylinder dual overhead camshaft engine. Jaguar was one of the first carmakers to use it across their line until Toyota began to do it in the late 1970s. On about 110 octane fuel, they put out about 300 horsepower.

How much have they invested into these cars?

The answer is not about money. The 1953, for example, is the result of a complete rebuild over more than 20 years of sweat equity and forging the right connections to find replacement parts.

“They only made 50 of these,” Jaycox said. “They were all raced so a lot of parts were damaged. Most of the parts came from other cars. There are some suppliers who will make parts. But mostly you put the word out and network within car clubs.”

In the end, effort makes for a car worth about $3 million.

What is it like to take such a special car out onto the track?

“Scary,” Jaycox said. “We’re not pros. We don’t do this every weekend. You have to reacclimate to it. After the first few laps, you relax and actually melt into the car. It’s the same as horse racing. You have to become one with it.”

Of course, there is a fear of getting hurt, even embarrassing oneself. But Jaycox, like so many others, said his biggest fear is “hurting the car.”

They go to car shows and take home trophies, and they will enjoy showing off their cars when the crowds descend to gawk at the concours. But experiencing these cars is far from complete without “seeing them move” and “hearing them.”

“That’s what it’s all about. How could we not race them?”

For information on vintage weekend, go online to www.limerock.com

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