Perfect racing weather showcased a busy day at Lime Rock Park on Saturday as the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli hosted its first race of the weekend with its highly competitive Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 class.
The second day of the Trans Am Memorial Day Classic also saw multiple qualifying groups from Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) competition, as well as two separate qualifying sessions and one feature race from open-wheel series Formula Race Promotions (FRP).
International GT also hosted one sprint race as well as a 45-minute enduro to close out the day.
Here are the top headlines from the day.
1. Action-Packed 100 Miles: The Trans Am TA2 class delivered an action-packed 100 miles around the Classic Lime Rock Course. Thomas Merrill was the top of his class, driving from pole to secure his second consecutive victory at Lime Rock. Though the race did not see a lead change, there was plenty of activity happening behind him. Seventeen-year-old Evan Slater was just two-thousandths of a second behind Merrill for the majority of the race until a wreck in the final moments brought out the yellow. On the restart, he was shuffled back to eighth and was unable to regain position due to an incident on the front straight that caused the race to end under caution. Mike Skeen, who started last in the 36-car field after serving a penalty for changing tires after qualifying, used the multiple restarts to his advantage, charging to a second-place finish. Thomas Annuziata rounded out the podium in third. There was so much action, that the results for the rest of the field are still provisional.
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2. Double Dose of Boris Said: Boris Said got a different view for Saturday’s TA2 feature as he assumed the prestigious role of Grand Marshal. Said commanded the start and waved the green flag to commence the exhilarating 100-mile TA2 race. Said, known for his flamboyant personality and undeniable passion for motorsports, watched with pride from the starters’ stand as his son Boris Said Jr. raced by. Said’s presence added an extra layer of significance to the event, showcasing the deep-rooted connection between father and son, as well as their shared love for the adrenaline-fueled Trans Am Series. Said Jr. finished 18th in the 36-car field.
“I’ve been coming to Lime Rock for the last 37 years, and to see what Dicky (Riegel) and the whole staff has done with this place is amazing. The facility looks great,” praised Said.
3. Honoring Paul Newman: Lime Rock Park played host to Sotheby’s captivating exhibit The World of Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman,showcasing the extraordinary life and legacy of the legendary Paul Newman. Set against the backdrop of roaring engines and the scent of burning rubber, the exhibit paid tribute to Newman’s racing career. Visitors were treated to a museum-like display of two Newman Daytona Rolex watches, race-worn suits, helmets, IndyCar and Champ Car Championship rings and other racing and lifestyle memorabilia that revealed the depth of Newman’s passion for racing. Lime Rock Park became a fitting venue for this homage, a place where Newman’s talent and love for speed were truly celebrated. As visitors immersed themselves in the exhibit, they couldn’t help but feel the indomitable spirit of the late, great Paul Newman permeating the air, inspiring both seasoned racing enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
Newman’s family attended the event and stayed for the race to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Newman’s historic Trans Am win.
“It’s amazing to be back here,” said Lissy Newman, Paul’s daughter. “It brings back so many memories. Lime Rock is my dad’s happy place. He was a race car driver first and an actor second. He always said that you know how good you are in a race car because you have a watch to measure it and that the car didn’t care what color his eyes were, if he wasn’t fast, he wasn’t fast.”
4. Opening Ceremonies: The opening ceremonies set the stage for an amazing day. The Connecticut State Police assisted from the air and on the ground with a a flyover from the Connecticut State Police helicopter and its officers presenting the colors ahead of the National Anthem. A beautiful rendition of the National Anthem was sung by Trans Am’s Showtime Motorsports crew member Ty Cunan.