Lime Rock Review June 27 – 29, 2019


Written by Bob Mitchell

Don’t misconstrue this as an official, factory-authorized report on the AMOC Annual Lime Rock Weekend. Instead, it’s a subjective, borderline-presumptuous reckoning of one newbie’s experience. If it proves to be mildly entertaining, fine. If it’s provocative enough to get the gentle reader to contribute to this venue, instead of passively reading more of my foolscap, all the better.

This was my third Aston Concours Weekend, my second as an owner. I’m lucky to have sterling friends, who, like Stan Laurel, “got me into this mess,” by allowing me to test-drive their Astons, and, well, you know how that goes. Hooked. I was a non-member guest two years ago, looking to pick your brains and learn about stewardship of these cars. And, save for one person asking, “What’s he doing here ?” I was warmly welcomed, and wholly-tolerated as non-member with a million questions.

Last year’s Meet found me fully-legit, card-carrying and V8 Vantage fully paid-for. The Club had moved from the Interlaken to Troutbrook, but no rooms were available when I signed up. Found a poorly-advertised B & B on a huge hilltop farm, minutes away from the action, hosted by a lovely couple who treated me like a son. I can’t really recommend it, as there’s no a/c, the place has seen better days: it’s an actual working farm. But it’s spotless, quiet, homey, and I was the only guest in a huge tower suite. “Mom” puts out a huge, healthy breakfast, ( well, there are the pastries…) and a hose & bucket are standing at the ready. You can buy far more luxury, but you cannot match the hospitable warmth of those two farmers.

This year’s Weekend began with the “Tour,” which, I’m learning, never really is a rallye, rather, a ramble of wrong roads and random routes. No matter–unless you rely on the pricey, primitive Volvo Nav in your Vantage, whose screen image reminds me of a child’s crude crayon drawing of a road–you will eventually wind up at the destination, “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life…” ( apologies to Bogie )

I’m an artist, so the Norman Rockwell Museum destination was a special treat. Bespoke parking was pre-arranged for us, and the event was extremely well-managed, with enthusiastic docents, in a lovely setting. Visiting his studio was a thrill. I’m gratified that one of America’s iconic Illustrators is so honored in a first-class museum and repository. A perfect day.

And I cannot say enough about the dinner at Serevan in Amenia, NY. An excellent meal in a lively, convivial setting. I’m currently breathing a bit more life into my AMOC region, and I’d like to plan a destination dinner there. They’re open Thursday to Monday, FYI. Chef Serge Madikians deserves applause. Back to my hilltop eyrie for a rest, to the sounds of coyotes, frogs, and an owl. They all remained outdoors, so I slept well.

Friday dawned bright and clear, and after ano. fine repast, and a wash-up of the Vantage, I motored to the show field. Some say the Interloken lawn was more convivial–I’m too new to opine. Tho’ I saw nary a chair nor shelter that Troutbeck had promised. Hydrate ! Sunblock !

That very same new-ness may explain my sensations at these convocations. And I am quite goggle-eyed, upon seeing all these rare, gorgeous, sculptures “en masse.” I am simply dazzled by all these Astons Martins gathered together. I live in a pretty fancy area of Connecticut, but, still, seeing another of our coven on the road, is rare. And sorta thrilling. To spot a curvaceous, ground-hugging, unadorned, aggressive, unmistakable car, is always scintillating. To be in the presence of a hundred of ’em, concurrent with a “virtual history” of the marque, lined up for our delectation, is an indescribable pleasure. Let’s not even think about trying to describe the sound of these creations ! I cannot imagine growing accustomed to this.

In the “you can’t please everyone” department, I’m noticing an interesting aspect of the Concours judging parameters. As preface, I’m the last person who should critique this. I love all my metal children, but they are all “drivers.” No Trailer Queens for this farm boy. As arbiter of what makes one Aston Martin better than ano., I’m hopeless. They’re all gorgeous ! Tho’ I learned that one owner, who has won a prize at every Concours he’s entered, without exception, has never been recognized, at several Lime Rock weekends. Another pal, who gives his Volante a quick wipe, takes away the Gold, just as often. Maybe other factors are at play, here. It is impossible to please everyone, as stated. That notwithstanding, it is an unalloyed pleasure to view these remarkable cars.

I enjoy the poolside lunch afterwards, and the staff is keen to assure us of good service and a casual, convivial al fresco experience. It is a perfect venue to converse with a range of folks, and I had a great conversation with Malcolm Burwell, who was just awarded a glowing tribute and handsome trophy, in honor of the memory of an equally dedicated contributing founder/member.

It is essential to acknowledge the very special core of selfless volunteers that can assure the success of any Club. I’m glad Malcolm was so recognized.

As for the the Friday night Welcoming Banquet, I never realized a Martini could be so bespoke or refined. The expert barman was as entertaining as informational. A frosty, delicious “learning experience !” As for the meal, the less said the better. Look up the Brit term, “dog’s breakfast.” Thank goodness for the quality & diversity of the attendees. I met fascinating couples, and had a marvelous time.

I’m not a racer; drive like Mr. Magoo on the track, tho’ I’ve enjoyed many indelible experiences on the Lime Rock racetrack, as appreciative, impressed, passenger. Someday I’ll get it together to attend the Saturday track day–maybe next year.

For me, the Lime Rock Weekend is a 3-year Trifecta. I initially attended to learn about the car and it’s stewardship, then joined the Club and enjoyed true participation. To pull this off must be challenging, to say the least. Kathy Gaffney, and whoever assists her, deserves approbation and appreciation. I feel guilty that I can’t name all the worker bees who make this magic happen. Someone should. The cars are indescribable, and the participants are without peer. It’s situated in a beautiful part of the World, an ideal place to get lost on a Tour, and to meet great owners. There are mishaps, but the ambience, venues, enthusiasts, and experiences distill into delight.

Roland Westerdahl photos: The five last pictures in this album are courtesy of “Ed Hyman-Autophotos”

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