Lime Rock Park – 1978 Formula Atlantic

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.

  • Entry List
  • Entry List

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.

  • Program
  • Program

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

  • Ford BDN Engine – The series spec power unit
  • Ford BDN Engine – The series spec power unit

Formula Atlantic – Pre-Grid

  • Bobby Rahal – Ralt RT1
  • Bobby Rahal – Ralt RT1

Formula Atlantic – Track

  • Keke Roseburg – Chevron B45
  • Bill Brack – March 78B

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

  • Lime Rock Park Paddock
  • Paul Newman and Terry Knight

SCCA Regional – Track

  • Race 1 – Glen Rees – Austin Healy Sprite
  • Race 1 – Bob Wanta – Triumph Spitfire

 

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