Lakeville, CT — Vintage Motorsport photographer Bill Stoler was thrilled to finally get to a vintage racing event this year, capturing outstanding images at last weekend’s Lime Rock Historic Festival for VintageMotorsport.com with more photos and event coverage coming in the Nov/Dec 2020 magazine.
We caught up with Bill when he was back home to get his impressions about the weekend.
VM: What races do you typically photograph?
BS: My season usually starts with the VRG Jefferson 500 (their biggest event) which is followed by the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and vintage racing through the streets of Schenley Park. It seems like I’m planning for — or wrapping up — material from those events for most of the summer, just in time to head to Lime Rock for the Historic Festival.
With the VRG and PVGP events being cancelled, the summer was a bit of a downer — like a racer stuck in pits for a pit stop gone bad! In fact, I really figured the Historic Festival would be cancelled too.
VM: And when you knew it was a go?
BS: It’s a six-hour drive from my home in south central Pennsylvania, so the excitement had time to build as I headed to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. Arriving at the track, the weather was absolutely amazing. It’s hard to describe the dreamy early morning fog that blankets the track, but burns off just in time for the first session. There is a great group of photographers who shoot at Lime Rock, and that really adds to my experience there. Things were a bit different this year with everyone wearing masks and we didn’t spend as much time in the media center, but we enjoyed our time, social-distancing, trackside!
VM: How did the absence of spectators affect the experience?
BS: I’m usually hyper-focused on the track action, so I really didn’t miss the spectators until Saturday when I noticed that I couldn’t use the rainbow of colors created by the fans on the hillsides as a background.
VM: What were some of your favorite racing moments?
BS: Because of the pandemic, Joe Nastasi couldn’t race his 12-cylinder 1972 Alfa Romeo TT33 in Europe, so he brought it to Lime Rock! There was plenty of good racing — the pre-war cars of the VSCCA, the Formula Fords of the VRG and lots of Datsun Z-cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
It seemed like everyone in the paddock was grateful to be there. Drivers, crew, corner workers and photographers — everyone wearing masks and following protocol — you had the sense that everyone was making an effort to make this thing work.
VM: Any parting thoughts?
BS: After that first day — a good day shooting great cars with a group of photographers I’m happy to call friends — the day gave way to a spectacular evening and it felt like maybe we took our first steps from the shadows of a long wait…let’s hope so.
Thanks to Skip Barber, Murray Smith and the rest of the gang at Lime Rock HF 38 for giving it a go!