There’s been racing going on at Lime Rock Park in northwestern Connecticut since 1957, and the track’s annual Historic Festival has been going on for the last 41 years. It’s one of the most popular events on the schedule and brings in a great variety of cars, some of which competed at Lime Rock back in its early days.
BMWs have been racing for many years at Lime Rock as well, and there were several in the “Tin Tops” group at this year’s Historic Festival. The 2002 model was the most popular with four entered, including one driven by Dave Nicholas, who amazingly was driving the same car that he won the IMSA GT TU championship with in 1973, which included a win at Lime Rock. There were also a trio of E30 325 models, along with a single E30 M3. In their class, the BMWs were competing against Alfa Romeo, MINI, and Porsche models, among others.
The first two races of the event were held on a Saturday, and Dave Nicholas proved to still be very quick in the car he first raced a half-century ago, taking the win in the first race. Mike George took third place in his 1982 325. Nicholas decided not to participate in the second race on Saturday, but Michael Hurczyn got a strong second-place finish in his 1989 325 behind the winning Lotus Cortina MK1. Stephen Early placed third in his 1988 M3.
The third and fourth races came down to a battle between Mike George and Michael Hurczyn. The pair had a great battle going on in the first race, with George ultimately taking the win ahead of Hurczyn, but Hurczyn took the win against George in race four. Stephen Early also put in strong performances in those races, finishing in third in race three and in fourth in race four. Dave Nicholas finished fourth in race three in his 2002.
The 325 driven by Mike George also has an interesting story behind it. Back in the late 1980s before the E30 M3 started racing here, Erik Wensberg (who was BMW NA Motorsport Director at the time), convinced BMW to send a pair of E30 325s over to compete in the IMSA Firehawk Series in 1987-88, and this is one of those cars. “It hasn’t been touched since 2012,” said George. “I dug it out about a month ago and we went end to end through it and prepared it. It has a 2.5-liter M20 motor in it. It had a multitude of problems from sitting so long and we worked around the clock for two weeks on it to get it ready.” The car looked great in its Motorsport livery at Lime Rock.
The Lime Rock Historic Festival is on Labor Day weekend and is well worth making the trip to. It’s a great celebration, with a lot of great cars competing in the historic races and a car show on Sunday. For more information visit limerock.com.
[Photos by David Haueter and Ingrid Kretschmann]