Ownership role gives Parker Kligerman a new perspective on his beloved Lime Rock Park


For Parker Kligerman, being an NBC Sports pit reporter for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Lime Rock Park will have special meaning.

And it’s not just because it’s where the Connecticut native saw, drove and won in a race car for the first time in his life.

A few months ago, Kligerman, 30, became a minority investor at the venerable road course, which was built in 1956 and changed ownership this year.

“It was a really cool opportunity with amazing people involved,” Kligerman said on a recent episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast (watch the video of the conversation above). “I saw the plans of what they wanted to do, and it got the wheels turning that, ‘Oh yeah, this is something that’s important to Connecticut and important to motorsports.’ It’s one of the most historic racetracks in America.

“What an amazing thing to be part of, and the idea of being part of this group that loves motorsports and is trying to set motorsports up for the future and the next couple of decades in Connecticut, it’s cool. I’m learning a lot from all the people involved. We’re working on really, really cool things. Over the next three to four years, you’ll see amazing improvements and additions to lime rock. Hopefully one of those involves something very near and dear to my heart. So we’ll see if we can make it happen.”

Though Kligerman declined to reveal further details of that project yet (“something pretty big!”), he did outline his role, which is mostly as an advisor to the other Lime Rock investors.

“I’m easily the youngest involved and most connected to NASCAR,” Kligerman said. “You can delineate my connection and role in that sense. I’ve been active in trying to bring opportunities to the partnership, a couple of different projects to bring more fanfare and recognition and get more people excited about Lime Rock.”

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the cars entered in Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix

Kligerman. who jokes that “I own basically a blade of grass somewhere” on the Lime Rock property, has been attending races at the Lakeville, Connecticut, facility for more than 20 years.

One of his favorite memories from the seven-turn, 1.474-mile track was a battle during the 2018 IMSA race between a Ford and Porsche with “two million-dollar race cars hitting each other.

“The IMSA GT guys love going because it is a bullring, a tight road course that in a lot of ways is high speed,” he said. “They all love going there for no-holds-barred contact. It’s their version of Bristol (Motor Speedway) for the IMSA sports cars.

It’s one of the most beautiful places to just hang out and watch race cars.”

The Northeast Grand Prix, a two-hour, 40-minute race featuring the GTD and GTLM classes, will be Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and broadcast live on NBC Sports digital platforms (TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, NBCSports.com) with Dave Burns, Calvin Fish, Kevin Lee and Kligerman on the call. An encore presentation will air at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN immediately after the Xfinity Series race.

You can listen to the episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you download podcasts.

With throaty roar, NASCAR Next Gen Camaro is taking Le Mans by storm on global stage

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LE MANS, France — The V8 engine of the NASCAR Chevrolet Camaro has a distinct growl that cannot go unnoticed even among the most elite sports cars in the world at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When the Hendrick Motorsports crew fired up the car inside Garage 56, NASCAR chairman Jim France broke into a huge grin and gave a thumbs up.

“The only guy who didn’t cover his ears,” laughed seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

GARAGE 56 SPECS: Full comparison of NASCAR Cup car to Le Mans car

BUTTON’S BIG MOVE: Hendrick drone tour was NASCAR entryway for F1 champion

France has been waiting since 1962 – the year his father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., brought him to his first 24 Hours of Le Mans – to hear the roar of a stock car at the most prestigious endurance race in the world.

A path finally opened when NASCAR developed its Next Gen car, which debuted last year. France worked out a deal to enter a car in a specialized “Innovative Car” class designed to showcase technology and development. The effort would be part of NASCAR’s 75th celebration and it comes as Le Mans marks its 100th.

Once he had the approval, France persuaded Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – NASCAR’s winningest team, manufacturer and tire supplier – to build a car capable of running the twice-around-the-clock race.

The race doesn’t start until Saturday, but NASCAR’s arrival has already been wildly embraced and France could not be more thrilled.

“Dad’s vision, to be able to follow it, it took awhile to follow it up, and my goal was to outdo what he accomplished,” France told The Associated Press. “I just hope we don’t fall on our ass.”

The car is in a class of its own and not racing anyone else in the 62-car field. But the lineup of 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and Johnson has been fast enough; Rockenfeller put down a qualifying lap that was faster than every car in the GTE AM class by a full three seconds.

The Hendrick Motorsports crew won its class in the pit stop competition and finished fifth overall as the only team using a manual jack against teams exclusively using air jacks. Rick Hendrick said he could not be prouder of the showing his organization has made even before race day.

“When we said we’re gonna do it, I said, ‘Look, we can’t do this half-assed. I want to be as sharp as anybody out there,” Hendrick told AP. “I don’t want to be any less than any other team here. And just to see the reaction from the crowd, people are so excited about this car. My granddaughter has been sending me all these TikTok things that fans are making about NASCAR being at Le Mans.”

This isn’t NASCAR’s first attempt to run Le Mans. The late France Sr. brokered a deal in 1976, as America celebrated its bicentennial, to bring two cars to compete in the Grand International class and NASCAR selected the teams. Herschel McGriff and his son, Doug, drove a Wedge-powered, Olympia Beer-sponsored Dodge Charger, and Junie Donlavey piloted a Ford Torino shared by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson.

Neither car came close to finishing the race. McGriff, now 95 and inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in January, is in Le Mans as France’s guest, clad head-to-toe in the noticeable Garage 56 uniforms.

“I threw a lot of hints that I would like to come. And I’ve been treated as royalty,” McGriff said. “This is unbelievable to me. I recognize nothing but I’m anxious to see everything. I’ve been watching and seeing pictures and I can certainly see the fans love their NASCAR.”

The goal is to finish the full race Sunday and, just maybe, beat cars from other classes. Should they pull off the feat, the driver trio wants its own podium celebration.

“I think people will talk about this car for a long, long time,” said Rockenfeller, who along with sports car driver Jordan Taylor did much of the development alongside crew chief Chad Knaus and Greg Ives, a former crew chief who stepped into a projects role at Hendrick this year.

“When we started with the Cup car, we felt already there was so much potential,” Rockenfeller said. “And then we tweaked it. And we go faster, and faster, at Le Mans on the SIM. But you never know until you hit the real track, and to be actually faster than the SIM. Everybody in the paddock, all the drivers, they come up and they are, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ and they were impressed by the pit stops. We’ve overachieved, almost, and now of course the goal is to run for 24 hours.”

The car completed a full 24-hour test at Sebring, Florida, earlier this year, Knaus said, and is capable of finishing the race. Button believes NASCAR will leave a lasting impression no matter what happens.

“If you haven’t seen this car live yet, it’s an absolute beast,” Button said. “When you see and hear it go by, it just puts a massive smile on your face.”

For Hendrick, the effort is the first in his newfound embrace of racing outside NASCAR, the stock car series founded long ago in the American South. Aside from the Le Mans project, he will own the Indy car that Kyle Larson drives for Arrow McLaren in next year’s Indianapolis 500 and it will be sponsored by his automotive company.

“If you’d have told me I’d be racing at Le Mans and Indianapolis within the same year, I’d never have believed you,” Hendrick told AP. “But we’re doing both and we’re going to do it right.”

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Fans gather around the NASCAR Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that is the Garage 56 entry for the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

General Motors is celebrating the achievement with a 2024 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Garage 56 Edition and only 56 will be available to collectors later this year.

“Even though Chevrolet has been racing since its inception in 1911, we’ve never done anything quite like Garage 56,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “A NASCAR stock car running at Le Mans is something fans doubted they would see again.”

The race hasn’t even started yet, but Hendrick has enjoyed it so much that he doesn’t want the project to end.

“It’s like a shame to go through all this and do all this, and then Sunday it’s done,” Hendrick said. “It’s just really special to be here.”