Over forty years after being instrumental in designing the famous Ford GT40, Lola Cars hosted seven replicas of the iconic car at it's Huntingdon premises yesterday as part of a visit by the Ford GT40 Enthusiasts Club.
Composites expert, Chris Palmer, took the guests through the method in which projects for industries ranging from Aerospace to Military are manufactured. All aspects such as the lay-up of the composite material to the trimming and 'cooking' of the components in Lola's on-site Autoclaves was explained.
After Ford provided a 4.2 litre engine to power the Lola Mk6 GT, built and raced in 1963, the 'blue oval' asked Lola to develop the Mk6 to become a Le Mans winner for Ford. With significant design input from Lola, the Ford GT40 was born and went on to become one of the all-time great sports racing cars. A succession of victories at Le Mans between 1966 and ’69 indelibly inscribed Fords name in the record books. The 1969 race is also remembered as being the closest ever finish when Jackie Ickx and Jack Oliver brought the winning car to the line just a few hundred yards ahead of Hans Herrman and Gerard Larrousse’s Porsche.
Wednesday's tour of the Lola Group factory consisted of the 20 members viewing a live wind tunnel demonstration of Lola's 50% scale Formula 3 model. Wind tunnel technician Russell Annison was on hand to explain the complexities of how an aero program is planned and executed and just why so many big companies and Formula One teams choose to use Lola's facility. Chief Aerodynamicist, Phil Tiller explained the 'black art' of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) to the inquisitive audience. Paul Rennie (Finite Element Analysis engineer) showed just why Lola are considered to be among the safest race cars now constructed, by explaining how the cars are built to ensure maximum security to the driver in the event of an accident.
The members also got a rare view of a 7-post test rig, Lola's being one of only a handful that are commercially available in the UK.
Event organiser, Allan Feldman said of the tour: "We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of seeing just what excellent capabilities Lola have at their factory. The attention to detail in every department is very impressive and Martin Birrane has done a fantastic job in enhancing the companies profile since 1997. It was also nice to be around like-minded enthusiasts and to be at a place where the great Eric Broadley realised so many dreams in producing fantastic racing cars. It is great to see that legacy continuing".
Lola will once again be opening their doors to both industry and guests on the 16th and 17th August in conjunction with National Motorsports Week. One of the days will feature the first ever on-site driving display of a Lola car at the Huntingdon facility.
For more details please contact Sam Smith on:
Lola Cars International Ltd
Glebe Road, St Peters Road,
Tel: +44 (0) 1480 359590
Fax: +44 (0) 1480 482970