Lola Cars, the UK’s largest and most successful racing car constructor opened up its doors for a comprehensive tour of its renowned facilities this week as part of the 2007 National Motorsport Week initiative.
Now in its second year, NMW aims to introduce more people to Motorsport through a week of activities. Lola cars, past and present, engineers, drivers and the company’s owner all took time out to welcome sixty members of the public to get a rare insight into the hi-tech world of race car design and build. Lola’s vast technical capabilities such as the on-site windtunnel, 7-post test rig and complete composites facility are commercially available meaning that access to the operations departments is very rare.
The National Motorsport Week guests began their tour by viewing the Lola Cars design office with its myriad of CAD systems running the latest version of the CATIA 5 design software. Composites design chief, Paul Rennie gave a presentation on structural design and how Lola implements FEA (Finite Element Analysis) in its designs. Rennie also went over crash testing procedures and how Lola’s have saved several drivers in recent years from serious injury.
Further tours of Lola Composites, a subsidiary of the Lola Group, and also the Technical Centre wowed the inquisitive guests with further demonstrations. Dr John Davis, formerly of the Williams and Jordan F1 teams described and then demonstrated a windtunnel run with the 50% scale, multi- million pound facility testing on one of the very latest Lola models.
There was also chance for the guests to see the 7-post test rig in action and hear the full roar of the legendary Lola T70 Mk3B as it was fired up in the factory grounds.
At the conclusion of the tour, interviews were conducted with Lola Executive Chairman and owner Martin Birrane and drivers Chris Buncombe and Joey Foster. Birrane, who acquired Lola from its original founder Eric Broadley ten years ago, welcomed the throng and talked of his favourite Lola models from down the years, as well as looking to the future with new LMP, Daytona Prototype and Formula Three cars set to be unveiled before the end of the year.
Lola racing drivers were also on hand with reigning Le Mans LMP2 champion Chris Buncombe and Formula Three race winner Joey Foster chatting about their careers and signing autographs. Foster is looking to continue his impressive rise up the single seater ranks after missing the start of the year due to injury while Buncombe is looking forward to this weekends Spa 1000kms where he will be in the running for more success in the Binnie Motorsports run Lola LMP2 car.
Finally, rounding out an action packed day Lola’s experienced team of assembly engineers demonstrated the commitment and skill of undertaking a pit stop on an LMP car. Guests were then invited to join in as they went against the clock to service the car with four fresh tyres.
Next year will see Lola celebrate 50 years of producing race winning cars in just about every discipline of racing from Formula One to Formula Ford. As well as leading the way on the track, Lola is now a leading technology supplier to many other industries including Aerospace, Defence, Marine, Communications and Automotive.
For more information please log on to www.lola-group.com
To learn more about National Motorsport Week click on to www.nationalmotorsportweek.com
QUOTES FROM NATIONAL MOTORSPORT WEEK AT LOLA:
“It was a really fantastic day. It is a credit to Lola to be willing to have a host of people look around the factory in such an informal manner.
We enjoyed the day a lot, and can probably speak for everyone else to say we couldn't fault it. The CAD/FEA process shown by Paul Rennie was quite an insight into the lengths designers go to, and it was a pleasure to move onto each stage of the tour and learn so much. I have to say the T70 fire-up was the best bit!”
Andrew Luckham, NMW guest
“Wow what a day! It seemed to fly by but there was so much happening. The Lola staff were very friendly and took time out to speak to us which was fantastic. We much enjoyed the interviews with Martin Birrane and also the drivers. We even told Chris (Buncombe) that we would be up at Silverstone for the LMS race (September 16) supporting him in his Binnie Lola!”
Jane Greaves, NMW guest
“We much enjoyed welcoming the National Motorsport guests to Lola and they all seemed very interested in all the processes we undertake here to ensure top quality products whether they be racing cars or other composite applications. It is great to see that the passion for motorsport still runs deep at every level and that there are more and more new people becoming interested in the industry.”
Martin Birrane, Executive Chairman, Lola Group
“It was fascinating the operations and capabilities at Lola, it was very interesting. The overall feedback from the guests was positive, they all certainly seemed very happy, and I was pleased to be able to contribute a little to the Motorsport Week programme!"
Chris Buncombe, Le Mans LMP2 champion