Speedy trials

August 31, 2018

During the work week, Jon Einhorn finds himself in a courtroom lugging a folder of papers as he defends a client against drug charges, represents a cop in an excessive-force case or questions a doctor on a personal injury claim.

For Labor Day weekend, Einhorn would put away the papers, replace his two-piece suit with a fireproof one, rip off his tie and strap on a helmet. Jumping into his red 1964 Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III, his weekend schedule included challenging Porsches, Lotuses, Jaguars and Aston-Martins on the winding track at Lime Rock during its Historic Festival.

On other weekends, Einhorn speeds down a straightway at Thompson, the Poconos, Watkins Glen, Sebring or Loudon, N.H.

“I love racing,” said the 70-year-old attorney, who craves competition not just in the courtroom but also as a Republican in largely Democratic New Haven. He served 16 years as an alderman there before taking an unsuccessful run for mayor in 1991. “It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.”

Behind the wheel, Einhorn said, he’s not focused on “a frustrating client” or challenging “a criminal justice system that’s clearly tilted to the prosecution ... On the track it’s just me and a group of other drivers.”

At Limerock, Einhorn had a 40-minute race Friday, two 20-minute races Saturday and two more 20-minute races on Memorial Day.

“I’m in a group with MGBs, Porsches, Alfa-Romeos,” he said.

Einhorn said his usual lap time at Lime Rock is a minute and four seconds.

“That’s not saying much,” he said, “when the record at Lime Rock is 58 seconds.”

Still, Einhorn has won his share of races at Lime Rock, and at Loudon.

“You know what’s great about that?” he said. “You get to run a victory lap.”

Einhorn was bitten by the racing bug about 20 years ago, after watching numerous races at Lime Rock.

“I always had a fast car,” he said. “I owned an Austin-Healey when I was in college. But it’s no fun just letting it sit in a garage or trailer.”

So he enrolled in racing classes first at Lime Rock with Bob Kilpatrick as his instructor, and then at Watkins Glen and the Poconos. Before long, Einhorn he found himself fighting butterflies when he climbed into his car at Lime Rock for his first Sports Car Club of America race.

“I finished around the middle of the pack,” he said. “But I find myself competing within the race against other drivers

He also pulled a stunt that’s forbidden in racing circles.

“I pulled a kamikaze,” he said. “That’s driving on the grass to pass other cars. One of the older racers yelled at me.”

It’s called a kamikaze because once a car rolls off the track and onto the grass it’s “totally out of control ... Our tires have no treads so its like driving on ice,” Einhorn said.

Last year he experienced just how dangerous the maneuver is, when another driver pulled the same stunt.

“He hit me and then the car behind me hit me — turning my Austin-Healey into an accordion,” Einhorn said

His only consolation, Einhorn said, was the kamikaze car “had to be a $5 million Ferrari.”

In addition to the hits, his car once caught fire.

“I’ve always rebuilt it,” Einhorn said. “The body is all fiberglass now. I get the engine and suspension in England from Denis Welch Motorsport. My car is maintained in Maine by a great mechanic named Taz Squire — he took over from his father.”

So how much has this hobby cost him?

Einhorn looked to the ceiling and shook his head.

“It’s definitely not a cheap hobby,” he said. “I had to buy an enclosed, 20-foot trailer, which by the way is red. The car runs on 110 octane fuel, which cost about $14 a gallon. The tires are about $1,000 a set...Racing is like asking someone about the cost of their kids’ education. You never want to add it up.”

And how much longer will he be racing?

“I’d like to say another 10 years,” said the septuagenarian. “There’s something special about pushing a 50-year-old English car around the track. There’s the smell, the sounds, the company and just the idea that at 70 you can do it.”

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