2003 Rolex Vintage Festival, presented by BMW



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It's been 25 years since BMW introduced the M1, and it's been a great ride. I've read that there are 75 still around in the US. This is the second year of this festival, and BMW hopes to turn it into an East Coast version of the Monterey Historics. There was quite a turnout, and I hope their wish comes true.

I left home on Friday to link up with Rachel, and the two of us hung out in NYC until the Labor Day Weekend traffic finally dulled down. We head on up to Danbury, to link up with Brian and Paula, CT residents, and great hosts. We got a tour of their home, where the main house was constructed in 1790, and had additions later on. Exceptionally nice place! Brian and Paula's property is large, and they have a garden, and make use of the barn for vehicle storage, among other things :) Brian's primary car is a Z3, but he has some other impressive vehicles, such as a 1960s Pontiac convertible, and a clean VW Beetle (old style).

The trek up to Lime Rock was nice, as US 7 is a scenic road, as well as the best method to reach the track from Brian and Paula's. We made slight detours to pass through two covered bridges. The weather wasn't entirely cooperative, so at one point we had to pull over and deploy our tops. Fortunately, the rain was short lived, so we made it into the Festival tops down.

Saturday was filled with Vintage Races. Cars were grouped by year of manufacture and class of car - For example, Group 7 was GT/Production Cars from 1962 through 1966 - there were 9 groups overall. We showed up late, and only saw a few of the final races. We missed lunch, and some great Bratwurst, I'm told.

There was quite a display - I counted 17 M1s up at the display area - I believe there were more down by the pits, but I can't be sure. Speaking of them, a lucky few winners were able to go for a ride in an M1 going full tilt, between the other races. I took several video clips of the car on the main straight, and you can see them here, here, and here. The M1 screams around the track, and thanks to the landscape, it announced its presence well before you could see it.

There was quite a collection of cars on display, not to mention all the ones in the parking lot! Wow is all I can say about the collected automotive beauty at the Festival. We did manage to see a few of the races, and managed to capture the start of the Group 7 race. It was interesting to see - there were a few lead changes as the frontrunners started lapping the other cars. What amused me here was that there was a Mini in the middle of the pack, and I would have expected it to fall back, but its driver kept the little car mid-pack.

A bit later, we decided to leave rather than get stuck in the mass exodus at the end of the event for the day. We got back on 7, and hopped off the main road and ended up at the Wandering Moose Cafe in (Cumberland?). We were a little early, so we waited down by the river until the opened. It was great, because it was at the other side of a covered bridge just off of 7, and we got to see a great progression of cars coming through the bridge. Rachel ran outside with my camera, and snapped a few photos of an Austin Healey - the husband drove, while the daughter rode shotgun and the wife sat in the rear. When they left, the wife drove, and the husband squoze into the back (turnabout is fair play!!). The food was incredible, and there were satisfied patrons at all the tables.

We returned to Brian and Paula's, and watched them make some homemade ice cream that we enjoyed over some lively conversation. Rachel and I bid our goodnights, and we head back to the Holiday Inn at Danbury. Nice place, but about an hour from Lime Rock.

Sunday arrived, and I chose to return to Lime Rock for the Vintage Festival and BimmerFestEast, which has joined forces with the whole event. I think it was a great combo. For the Vintage Festival, many cars were on display, laid out on the straightaway of the track. All sorts of cars were there, and I lost track of most of the names and manufacturers. Porsche, Ferrari, Bugatti, Lambourghini, Ford, MG, ...and the list goes on. Then there's the one I stopped to remember and promptly forgot - This car is apparently a Russian Limosine called a Tatra. Its a rear-engine car. If you know anything more about this car, please let me know.

So, I parked on the wrong side of the tracks, and was able to make my way over to the BimmerFestEast corral. Quite a few really nice BMWs there. There's this unique M3 with the swing-wing doors, and also this customized Velvet Blue M Roadster - a rare color for the M Roadster, to say the least!!!! I also spied this very custom 5-series, labelled a "WM5" - anyone know what it's all about?

There were other nice cars there, and the judges were making their way through the cars. I think this owner tried to suck up to the judges by making up a street sign for the occasion (or was it a European License plate? I dunno).

I ended up wandering back to my car by way of the Vintage Festival. Things were starting to wind down for the day, and some people were moving their cars off of the track. I found it amusing that the two M1s (bring the total to 19?) were being towed back to their areas by a new BMW 7 series.

Somewhere along the way, I ran out of space on my digital camera cards. There was so much to see that I sort of lost track of it all. Next year, maybe I'll have plenty of cards to use up.

It was all quite a blast! I hope to see things next year, as I do plan on returning. I hope you enjoy these pages as much as I did! Next time, I'll definitely show up in time for the BratWurst!!!!!

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Rolex Vintage Festival Photos

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