SHARON, Conn. -- Jim Vaill, who built the Lime Rock Park racetrack on family land nearly 50 years ago, died April 20 at age 83.
James Edward Vaill was born in Torrington in 1921 and grew up in Lakeville, adjacent to Lime Rock.
He was trained as a singer and performed in light opera but primarily worked for his father in the family farming and construction business.
In the spring of 1955, Mr. Vaill, who raced a car that was owned by his friend in a gravel pit on Vaill family property in Lime Rock, was approached by a group from the Sports Car Club of America.
The group proposed that Mr. Vaill build a permanent road-racing course. He laid out a plan for a 1.53-mile course.
While it is not considered a major speedway, Lime Rock has attracted drivers such as Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Mark Donohue, and actor Paul Newman.
In 1963, Mr. Vaill sold the track and focused on real estate. The circuit is now owned by Skip Barber, who started a chain of high-performance driving schools, including one based at Lime Rock Park.