The fourth round of the 1978 Formula Atlantic Labatts Championship was held over the July 4th Holiday at Lime Rock Park in the northwest corner of Connecticut. The seven-turn, 1.53-mile track is located in a natural wooden setting in Lakeville. The track opened in 1957 and in 1959 the Trinity Episcopal Church took the track to court and obtained an injunction banning Sunday racing. The injunction is still in place and back in 1978 for the Formula Atlantic Labatts race the first day of practice was Saturday, with Sunday off and then a second day for qualifying on Monday with the race held on Tuesday, July 4th.
Going on 40 years later a review of the entry calls out some young drivers that in the future would make their mark. Formula Atlantic was viewed as a stepping stone for the budding professional drivers. The previous year’s champion, Gilles Villeneuve, had graduated from the series and was soon to set the Formula 1 world alight driving for Scuderia Ferrari. A future World Driving champion, Keke Roseburg, was present along with two Indy 500 champions to be, Bobby Rahal and Danny Sullivan.
Looking through photographs from the weekend show a very different environment than today. Formula Atlantic was promoted as a professional series, but at Lime Rock race preparation was completed in the gravel and grass paddock. No motorhomes and only a couple of large transporters. The cars that survived to today and are campaigned in the various historic races are prepared in conditions far better than when they were used by the young budding drivers working their way up the professional racing ladder.
Formula Atlantic – Paddock
Formula Atlantic – Pre-Grid
Formula Atlantic – Track
In addition to hosting the Labatt Championship Formula Atlantic race, the SCCA held the Kendall Cup Nationals featuring 11 race groups of amateur competitors. The club racers followed the same schedule as the Formula Atlantic series, taking Sunday off.
SCCA Regional – Paddock
SCCA Regional – Track