Lime Rock times three


The graphics may be dated but Grand Prix Legends cars fit the Lime Rock track like a well-worn glove

More than a decade old, Grand Prix Legends still commands the respect of all who drive it, and this indentured simulation has also spawned almost 600 add-on tracks from the modding community since 1998. I’ve only downloaded a fraction—40 at last count—but one of my favorites has always been Lime Rock Park.

Two versions exist—one with and one without the speed-arresting chicane at the top of turn five—but the chicane-less model (originally released in 2002) is the hands-down winner here. Developed by modders Brent Adams, Jim Barnes, and Eric Bourgouin, this GPL track mod is a tidy piece of work that handily showcases much of Lime Rock’s unique topography. GPL’s aging graphics engine may not fare that well in our modern high-res DX10 gaming landscape, but once you’ve carved out a lap or two on this surprisingly faithful mile-and-a-half ribbon of asphalt and concrete, you’ll probably forget all about that coarse-looking 2D scenery. Rating: 6.5 out of 10.


The popular rFactor Lime Rock entry follows the Connecticut circuit’s every rise and fall

rFactor is the undisputed champion of mod-friendly PC racing sims, and this multi-faceted 2005 indie racer features almost as many third-party add-on tracks as the more pedigreed Grand Prix Legends. The beefier graphics engine delivers vastly superior visual punch, however, and Ewan (Uzzi) Chalker’s intricately detailed Lime Rock Park 1.10 entry (available in chicane and non-chicane flavors) took full advantage of this to earn a high-ranking spot in’s Hall of Fame.

The add-on’s lush Connecticut scenery blends seamlessly with the serpentine twists and turns of the Skip Barber–operated race track, and its strategically placed concrete patches will give your force-feedback controller a steady workout. There are some minor layout discrepancies, but for a scratch-built community contribution, Lime Rock Park 1.10 delivers impressive real-world authenticity. Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

It may not seem sporting to compare freeware track mods with a professionally packaged sim racer (built by some of the finest gaming developers in the business), but after turning a few hundred laps on’s Lime Rock circuit, I’d be remiss to exclude it. When it comes to corner-by-corner accuracy and precision, nothing can touch this puppy.

That’s because serves double duty as a hobbyist racing sim and a real-world trainer for aspiring and established race drivers. The iRacing crew employed state-of-the-art laser scanning equipment to replicate every bump, dip, and compression in the 1.53-mile Lime Rock circuit, and the resultant ride is about as faithful as current computing technology permits. If there’s even a minor surface anomaly on the real track that could upset your car in any way, you can bet dollars to doughnuts it found its way into the virtual track.

For better or worse, the iRacing folks have set an impossibly high new benchmark for all track modders to aim for. Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

December 19, 2008