LAKEVILLE, Conn. – It was successfully kept a secret for weeks in order to surprise a racing legend.
On Saturday at the Amelia Island (Fla.) Concours d’Elegance, where this year’s honored guest was Sam Posey, Lime Rock Park owner Skip Barber announced that the track’s front straightaway is now officially Sam Posey Straight.
In Lime Rock’s 57-year history, this is the first, and likely only, name change for a section of the track.
“I know – we all know – that Sam deeply loves Lime Rock Park,” Barber said at the Saturday evening ‘Mercedes-Benz U.S.A. Gala Dinner Honoring Sam Posey.’ “He’s been racing at Lime Rock since he was a teen – he grew up five miles from the track.
“Sam was the first driver to lap the track in less than 60 seconds – that was a big, big deal when Sam did that, in 1967. He was driving a McLaren Can-Am car. And that was just two years after his very first race at Lime Rock, in a Formula Vee, a car that has less than a fifth of the power of that McLaren.
“Sam was able to use Lime Rock as a launching pad for what turned out to be an astoundingly steep early career path. One year after that FV race, he was racing a 500 horsepower Bizzarrini 5300 GT at Le Mans.
“And of course, we’ve been blessed that no less than three of the track’s beautiful buildings, including the now-iconic paddock tower, were designed by Sam,” Barber said. He also reported that Posey was rendered speechless by the surprise honor – no mean feat for one of the most erudite, articulate gentlemen you’ll ever meet.
Posey competed in just about every form of racing, including Can-Am, Trans-Am, World Endurance Championship, IMSA, Indy Cars, Formula 5000 and Formula 1. Since 1981, Posey has been one of the most sought-out TV racing announcers, and he’s also an accomplished writer, painter and artist. An avid model railroader, he authored Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale. Posey not only wrote an autobiography, The Mudge Pond Express, he won a sports writing Emmy in the early 1990s.
Although Posey retired from professional driving in the 1980s, he has not retired from the cockpit; he still drives his PRS Formula Ford at speed during Lime Rock Drivers Club track days.
Bill Warner, Amelia’s founder and chairman, said, “Sam is one of the true gentlemen of motorsport and so respected for his knowledge, insight and dry humor. He has done so many things so well in racing, and he has that one-of-a-kind style in the commentary booth. Sam is a big supporter of the Amelia Concours and has also been a judge and seminar panelist with us. It is a great pleasure to have had him as our guest of honor.”
When Barber got back from Florida, he said, “I wanted to do this special thing, for Sam and Ellen and the kids, so that Sam could savor it, appreciate it, in the here and now. That’s not an opportunity commonly afforded. I’ll be sending him the revised track map in about a week.”