IMSA Ferrari Challenge at Lime Rock Park the debrief

I don’t know what it is but every time I come to Lime Rock to volunteer an event there’s always something impeding my performance. This time around I got sick as a dog the day before with a head cold and flu like symptoms and it only got worse during the course of the weekend. Being sick probably affected my opinion of the event, but I’ll go ahead and share what I thought, both the good and the bad.

The good… I really enjoyed working with the people I was paired with over the two day period. I loved the assignments I got, both stations: Turn 7 (downhill) on Friday and Turn 6 (west bend) on Saturday were stations I haven’t worked in forever, so it was a new perspective. And my partners who both said were novices even though they probably worked more “years” as marshals than I have, really embraced my help (or at least that’s how they came across) which created a really pleasant atmosphere that I enjoyed. I thought I was helping by sharing what I know, and encouraged the folks to build confidence even if they made a mistake. That was cool! I am thankful for that opportunity.

As far as the racing goes it was a great day to be a Ferrari fan because there were lots of Ferrari’s to be enjoyed.

I really like(d) Ferrari Challenge. They were such an exciting event especially when they played a support role to events like Formula 1 in Montreal, Canada or at the US Grand Prix. They were such an enjoyable regional event too, because I got to see them race as a support to Formula One in Singapore and Le Mans 24 hours in France. In fact it was the Ukrainian team that won the support race during my very first LM 24h and I was massively happy to hear the Ukrainian anthem playing in the distance. That was really neat.

The bad…  It seems to me Ferrari Challenge went from heroes to zeroes in a space of a few years. The current Ferrari Challenge event at Lime Rock felt more like a Ferrari North America track rental, a private event rather than a Pro-Race / IMSA sanctioned weekend.

When did Ferrari Challenge become the bastard child of IMSA?

I don’t understand this at all… watching the weekend unfold it was pretty disappointing to see the sorry state of the series. Which probably has a lot to do with Ferrari involvement and the direction of the program from top down. And equally as much the popularity of other series like Porsche GT3 Cup and Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-24

“I’d rather be fishing” on the winning car of one of the classes sums up the event best… seems like lots of racers would rather do something else, that’s why the car fields in the actual races were between seven (7!!!) and low teens… not much to look at. And I get the part that this is a marketing tag line, but even the teammate’s Bass Pro Shops sponsored Ferrari was half-assed. I’ve seen spec Miatas with better wrap jobs than this 458C that seems like it was slapped together in a hurry, with bubbles and creases still clearly visible under the wrap. Not cool…

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-18

It wasn’t just the Ferrari Challenge that was disappointing. Much like the Driver Education sessions during the Ferrari Club of America / IndyCar weekend at Watkins Glen, the lapping portion of the event was lame. The Ferrari Esperienza session which used the same 458C that the Challenge racers use only had one car circulating in it’s 20 minute sessions, at one point another similar car joined but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. That sucked. There was a LaFerrari session which I think many people, myself included were quite interested in, that didn’t happen at all. I could be wrong but I didn’t see any LaFerrari’s at Lime Rock at all this weekend. What the hell? The LaFerrari was used as a cover photo on Facebook to check in for this event… false marketing, is it?

Whatever!

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-15

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-13

The plastic F1 replica was a cool touch though. I took full advantage by taking some snaps of it at various stages of that car’s display. It was fun to see it being pushed around sideways (perpendicular to the way the wheels were facing) to get the car lined up in a way that the red shirts wanted it. I even staged a little photo shoot with my Miazda for shits and giggles… didn’t realize the car was that much bigger than my Miata.

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-82

So it is what it is. The final verdict for this weekend is it felt like a Cars & Coffee get together with a few cars running around on track making noise…. except you had to pay $55 bux as a spectator to come and see these cars for yourself. The spectator attendance was good albeit low, I was happy to see all the little kids who raided the team’s spent tires stash and took them as souvenirs. Some were playing by rolling the tire down hill, others used it as chairs to watch the racing. I love seeing little kids at the race track… with low attendance numbers everywhere it’s nice to feel that Motorsport has a future.

The car show portion of the event is what really salvaged the experience for me. Despite the LaFerrari’s absence I was super happy to see the F40 next to an F50 next to an Enzo. What a great show! Lots of red cars, a few bright yellows and bright blues to break the monotony of silvers and black cars. There was a lot to look at in the small space that is the Lime Rock paddock.

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-52

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-51

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-53

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-45

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-69

I never knew Ferrari made a Citroen-esque car:

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-58

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-59

For me though this was a one time event, I don’t think I would enjoy doing it again in the future. But that’s just me.

And then when leaving I noticed the whole road leading to the main entrance of Lime Rock lined with yellow “No Racing on Sunday” banners… WTF! Hard for me to understand people’s mentality that buy a house next to the race track and then complain about the noise.

ferrari-challenge-at-lime-rock-park-88