9/3/2013 - Cops Pull Over Racers in the Starting Grid at Lime Rock Park
Lakeville, CT - Among the more bizarre or quirky incidents at the Lime Rock Vintage Festival was an apparent police pursuit of race cars speeding through the paddock. A number of race participants were incredulous that Connecticut state troopers in their grey Ford Crown Victorias were patrolling Lime Rock, which is private property, not a state park as some observers mistakenly asserted.
On Saturday, organizers shortened the lunch hour and moved the afternoon race schedule forward by half an hour, but without a p.a. announcement or other notification some drivers were caught off guard with very little time to suit up for their race sessions. Bob Hebert of Monterey, Mass., who was on pole in Group 7 in the Donovan Motor Sports Jaguar E-Type, told VM he was in street clothes when he heard the p.a. announce the five-minute call for his race around 3:25 p.m., although it was on the schedule for 4 p.m.
Hebert rushed to suit up and belt in, and admitted he exceeded the 5 mph paddock speed limit while negotiating the usual human slalom cones of agog spectators walking down the paddock lane rather than in the separate pedestrian aisle alongside the paddock exit. On his way to the hot pits/grid, Hebert was followed by a state trooper who literally pulled him over on the starting grid. By now out of his car, the officer told Hebert that if he saw the racer drive through the paddock in that manner again, he would "lose his license" for reckless driving. Hebert only managed five laps in Saturday's final Group 7 race but came back on Monday to finish 2nd in the "dry" afternoon race.
Another Group 7 Jaguar driver, Martin Hale of Cohasset, Mass., was also pursued to his pit by a state trooper after the Saturday afternoon race (see photo) who apparently didn't approve of Hale's driving style in the paddock. Hale also was given a warning by the trooper, he told VM.
Perhaps the troopers were unaware that after a spirited 10-lap race, Hale's '62 Jaguar would be near overheating in the often stacked-up paddock return lane, and like a shark that needs to keep moving to survive, the Jag motored through the pedestrian-filled area as fast as space allowed to shut it down quickly post-race. A trooper interviewed by VM confirmed that although Lime Rock is private property, state police have the jurisdiction and ability to cite any driver they deem guilty of reckless driving.
-- Reported by Mike Silverman