Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance

2013 - Sam Posey

Amelia’s 2013 Honoree & Racing’s Renaissance Man2013 - Sam Posey

  • It seemed he came out of nowhere. One day droning around Lime Rock (just a few miles from his home in Sharon, CT) in a Formula V and the next being hailed by the national motor sport press as the man who broke Lime Rock's one-minute barrier. Driving a Can-Am McLaren, Posey lapped his 1.53 mile home circuit at 58.6 seconds. The same car took him to third in the annual USRRC – the United States Road Racing Championship – in 1967.
  • His first racing car came via the great American road racer John Fitch, the only American to race for the Mercedes-Benz factory team. Fitch was practically Posey's neighbor who helped design and managed Lime Rock Park, the fast and willowy 1.53 mile road racing course in northwestern Connecticut's Berkshire Mountains. A Formula V carried Posey to his first victory, but his talent and timing led him to far more potent stuff.
  • Having postponed his senior year at the Rhode Island School of Design, Sam entered professional road racing full time. Neither would Posey who bought a Porsche 904 for the 1966 season. A third in class with Harry Theodoracopolis and Lime Rock manager/racer Jim Haynes in the first 24 Hours of Daytona (1966) was Sam's debut in long distance, World Championship road racing.
  • By the early Seventies the once chivalrous tone of American sports car racing had been replaced with the unsentimental realities of high stakes motorsport. The new tone was summoned by big Can-Am prize money and the bare-knuckles atmosphere of the Trans-Am. Posey never veered from his personal path of correct and polite behavior and an unfailing gentlemanly demeanor. Nor did he shrink from a fight on the race course. His exposure to John Fitch and the Ivy League tones of New England life never deserted him, regardless of the high speed, high stakes game he played.
  • By the end of the Sixties rules makers tried to slow everything with restrictive new rules. It didn't work because technology was on the march at double time. Returning to the cockpit in 1969, Sam raced for the legendary Luigi Chinetti, a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Enzo Ferrari's man in the New World. Second in class at the 24 Hours of Daytona was a fine way to begin the year.
  • With his Can-Am adventures complete, Sam discovered the SCCA's new Formula 5000 Championship suited his talents and temperament. F5000 racers were blood relations of Formula 1 cars powered not by ultra-high revving thoroughbred overhead cam pure racing engines, but by torquey 5-liter -- 305 cubic inch -- stock block American V-8 engines, very similar to the production engines used in the popular Trans-Am championship. Sam kept a foot in both camps. When Peter Revson was on Indy 500 duty for Team McLaren, Sam substituted for him in one of Cobra-creator Carroll Shelby's Trans-Am Mustangs at Lime Rock. His win, from the pole position, was the famous Shelby team's final victory before the legendary Le Mans-winning Texan retired from motorsport.
  • The cross pollination of road racing and Indy cars that began in the mid-Sixties was in full flower by the time Posey found his comfort zone in F5000. By 1972 Sam had followed the path from sports cars and Formula 1 to the Indianapolis 500. Posey's all-American Indy 500 ride was a Dan Gurney-built Eagle powered by a legendary Offenhauser engine. Posey's smooth style earned him seventh place qualifying money ahead of more than one Indy 500 winner. That was a good year for sports car men at Indy. Sam finished fifth, two places ahead of rookie of the year Mike Hiss. The race was won by Penske Racing's Mark Donohue, a sports car champion.
  • Back in sports cars Sam became a member of the BMW factory team for the 1975 IMSA Camel GT championship season. Neither BMW 3.0 CSL finished the grueling season opener at Daytona, but the story was different at Sebring. Held on a rough old WWII airfield converted to a road racing course, the 12 Hours is regarded as the world's most brutal endurance race on pavement. In 1975 Sam Posey added Sebring, America's senior endurance classic, to his resume. It was BMW's first international racing victory in a long distance enduro and Posey's first win in a championship endurance race.
  • When Jackie Stewart was unable to be a part of ABC television's 1974 Indy 500 broadcast Sam's telephone rang. From 1982 through 1996 Sam was a regular commentator on ABC's live Indy 500 coverage.
  • No one was surprised when Sam won an Emmy Award for writing. That it was for ABC's broadcast coverage of the Iditarod sled dog race showed the range and agility of Sam's intellect.
  • When Speed TV inked a contract to broadcast Formula 1 races live to America, Posey became the network's voice, introducing the live shows. His insightful and dramatic introductions of each World Championship race conveyed the glamor, excitement and danger of Formula 1. Speed TV didn't hesitate when they became the American broadcast partner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans; as a veteran of 13 Le Mans 24 Hour races Sam was drafted to provide the broadcast prologue for the annual French endurance classic.
  • Sam still makes his home with wife Ellen in Sharon, CT, just a few miles from Lime Rock. His name is on a plaque of Lime Rock record setters on the wall of the race control building he and his brother designed. In 2013 the front straight at Lime Rock was named SAM POSEY STRAIGHT honoring his long association with his home track and his many achievements in motorsport, writing and broadcasting.
  • Recently Sam was Lime Rock's Grand Marshal for the Grand American Road Racing Assn.'s season finale and title-decider. Hearing Sam's voice give the command to start engines, Lime Rock's avid and knowledgeable fans applauded and cheered.
  • Sam's final Formula 1 broadcast duties for Speed TV came at the conclusion of the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. Speed gave Sam the last word. Summarizing not just the 2012 F1 season, but Speed TV's long tenure broadcasting F1 races live in North America, Sam concluded the final broadcast with the words "We've had a lot of fun together, don't you agree?" Indeed.
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