Story and photo by Vickie Miller
LIME ROCK PARK held the best racing not on TV!
As many race fans headed to Indianapolis for Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to Lime Rock Park (LRP), a 1.5 mile track billed as the â€œRoad Racing Center of the Eastâ€ located in Lakeville, CT. Over the past several years, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSC) series raced on Saturday, with Sunday being a non-racing day, and Grand-Am racing on Monday. This yearâ€™s race weekend saw teams from GT3 Porsche series and CTSC only. While there was a good turn-out from fans, I guess television didnâ€™t seem to be interested enough to attend.
Due to the large number of entries, the CTSC recently split the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes into two separate races. With the classes split, the GS race had 28 cars and the ST race saw 33 cars. There was bumping, banging, passing and lapped cars.
The Berkshire Mountains provided a pretty backdrop for the track and they also provided unpredictable weather conditions. The GT3 Race 2 and CTSC qualifying were canceled due to rain. The Compass 360 Racing Subaru driven by Ryan Eversley (recent guest and friend of the show) and his co-driver Kyle Gimple, started the GS race 26th. With Ryan starting in the car, he didnâ€™t stay in 26th spot long and yes, he drove it like he stole it.
There was no local track coverage, nor Motor Racing Network coverage to listen to on a scanner. Speakers were limited around the track, which you could not hear with cars running. Yet fans still managed to realize Ryan was on a mission. @IMSALive tweeted, â€œ@RyanEversley has gone from 26th to 6th in 30 laps in #CTSC GS @limerockpark, competitors complain of contact.â€
Hmmmâ€¦ Let me check my history books, but I donâ€™t remember a race where drivers DIDNâ€™T complain of contact. Itâ€™s called PRIDE. If you are in a race car and you donâ€™t want to get to the front, go sell insurance because you have no business being a race car driver!
I will admit, when I look in my rear view mirror and see a soccer mom gaining on me in her mini-van, my pride kicks in and I canâ€™t let her pass me! Since the race was not on TV, we canâ€™t go to the film to review the complaints, and when Ryan completed his stint, he immediately went to a team to apologize for a track incident. But thatâ€™s racingâ€¦.heck just ask Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe!
I am very proud to #BelieveinOrange and am a Ryan fan, but it would be an incomplete recap if I didnâ€™t mention Ryanâ€™s co-driver, Kyle Gimple. While Ryan got the car up to P2 for the driver change, the pressure was on for Kyle to keep the podium spot! Kyle battled lapped traffic and Iâ€™m sure handled more than one driver who had something to prove! Oh yea, did I forget to mention this driver team drove in the ST race earlier in the day in their HPD Civic car? The whole race was incredible and I will never understand why video coverage was unavailable, but this will go down in the history books as one of the best races never seen!
For more recap from Ryan, check out his column at http://sportscar365.com/features/commentary/eversley-lime-rock-debrief/ or listen to his interview on Motor Week LIVE! with Patrick Reynolds from May 19http://racersreunionradio.com/motor-week-live-podcast-library/
Now for a feature, a DRIVER PROFILE of Tyler Cooke! While I have seen Tyler Cooke race, I really didnâ€™t know much about him. I enjoyed getting to know him and I hope you do too.
I caught up with Tyler, a full-season CTSC driver in the BimmerWorld #81 BMW 328i, at Lime Rock. Tyler, along with his co-driver Gregory Liefooghe, were in the top 10 for the first ST class practice. With qualifying rained out, the field was set on team points, and they started P2. Tyler lead a portion of his stint and the team ended the race finishing ninth. Tyler is in a three-way tie for second in driver points and the #81 team is 3rd in points. While a very young driver, Tyler has seen success. In 2013, he finished third in ST driver points, won his first career CTSC race at Road America, and won the pole position at the very same race.
Like many successful race car drivers, Tyler started in go-karting. Tyler is a four-time shifter kart champion at Homestead Karting. He continues to improve his skills and can often be seen at the GoPro Motorplex center in the Charlotte area. Karting provides Tyler a hands-on real-time experience to strengthen his reaction skills which is key for the tight racing around the track. In the CTSC series and with co-drivers, you donâ€™t know which level (professional or paying driver) is in the car racing next to you battling for the lead. The GoPro Motorplex track is one of Tylerâ€™s favorite karting tracks as it provides the ability to learn how to handle fast and slow corners. With the advancement in technology, Tyler finds iRacing very beneficial in helping to learn a carâ€™s setup, and allows Tyler to adjust the car and feel the changes even though they might not be completely realistic, but close. Tyler battles many of the same drivers on iRacing as on the track, which has made for some interesting interaction!
Realizing Tylerâ€™s potential and talent, his family showed their support by relocating to the Charlotte area. While the Tudor and LeMans series in Europe are Tylerâ€™s dream, he would still like to jump in a stock car to try out the NASCAR world.
Tyler enjoys Road Americaâ€™s track with the beautiful scenery of woods and nice view of the fans while turning laps. I know I find it disappointing to attend large oval track venues, only to see the empty front stretch grandstands. So with the layout at Road America and the access fans have around the track to enjoy close up racing, it was not unexpected for me to hear Tyler enjoys seeing the fans from the driverâ€™s view. This makes for a more enjoyable racing experience.
Tylerâ€™s next race is at Kansas Motor Speedway (June 7, 7:15pm EST) where the track has many lines so you can work to pass or lay down a flyer, whether it be going up to the wall and bringing the car to the apron or hugging the yellow line all the way around. When the CTCS comes to the speedway, the series turns Kansas into a â€œrovalâ€ which Tyler mentioned qualifies it to be a road course and also provides very intense shifting.
When Tyler isnâ€™t racing himself at the track, he is coaching racers from karts to cars as well as working as an instructor at the BMW Performance Center in Greenville, SC. He also works as an instructor at the Ford school in Salt Lake City Utah.
Of course, Tyler along with all drivers could not do what they enjoy most without sponsors. On the #81 BMW hood is the teamâ€™s primary sponsor Red Line Synthetic Oil Corporation. However, Red Line is not just a sponsor, but a product Tyler already had been using! Tyler uses the transmission oil in his personal car (BMW E46) which resulted in smoother shifting in his short shift gear box and using Red Line Oil motor oil has resulted in smoother running in his engine as well.
The team, BimmerWorld, located in Dublin, Virginia, is owned by James Clay, whom Tyler enjoys a special bond. When Tylerâ€™s father passed away, James created a foundation with Camp Boggy Creek in honor of Tylerâ€™s Dad. As I have seen James Clay around the paddock for years, I am not surprised by this kind gesture. The BimmerWorld team and drivers have always been very welcoming and kind to this race fan. If you are searching for a team to support, I suggest you look into BimmerWorld and Tyler as your driver!
Find more information about Tyler Cooke:
Facebook: Tyler Cooke Racing
Find more information about BimmerWorld: BimmerWorldRacing.com