The recent sad death of Eric Broadley has cast a pall over the world of motorsport, the creator of one of the most iconic marques has left a gap that will be impossible to fill.
Below Martin Birrane, Chairman of Lola Group Holdings Limited, gives an appreciation of Eric's life.
Many posts and many articles have been written about Eric Broadley quite rightly extolling his virtues as a great race car designer and providing details on a number of the 300+ Lola race cars designed and produced over his 39 years in charge of the iconic brand Lola. Sam Smith’s post on Autosport gives much of the detail of those cars.
I would like to express my admiration for the man whose genius extended to keeping a race car manufacturer running for 38 of his 39 years in charge. I am aware of how difficult that must have been through all of the peaks and troughs in the economy between 1958 and 1996. Whilst it is true to say that he had assistance from his cousin, Graham Broadley and Rob Rushbrook who ran the manufacturing side for many of those years, the major decisions are always taken by the boss and Eric was the boss. He was also an entrepreneur. He signed up John Mecom, a multi millionaire oil man, as the first US Lola importer in the mid 1960s. He changed in the late 1960s to partner racing legend, the late Carl Haas of Haas Autos when he felt the time was right. He believed it to be a better option. The Lola/Haas partnership lasted 30 years.
Following my takeover of Lola in 1997 I invested heavily and worked hard to restore its reputation. We succeeded in that goal fairly quickly with some notable successes in Champ cars, in Japan, the USA and sports cars in Europe and Le Mans cars. It was important to me and most of the people at Lola that we live up to the high standards set by Eric for Lola. This meant competing at the top level of motorsport, building beautiful winning cars. It is still my hope to restart and revive the race car side of Lola in the near future.
Having been a customer of Lola in the early 1970s I got to know Eric who was a quiet, determined, good humoured man who like one of his greatest collaborators, the late great John Surtees, didn’t seem to be driven by ego. They were both my heroes.
Lola’s creations will live on beyond all of us. Lola, the brand he carved in stone, will still be remembered as one of the greatest names in motor racing a century from now. I have already sent my condolences to Eric’s family through his son Andrew. May I send them again to the wider family of Lola owners and fans.