ICONS OF MOTORSPORT SUPPORT LOLA'S 50th ANNIVERSARY AT GOODWOOD FOS
Some of motor sport’s most respected names from both sides of the Atlantic - including Damon Hill, John Surtees, Carl Haas, Brian Redman, Paul Tracy and current F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais - will support Lola’s 50th Anniversary celebrations at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (11-13 July). Also in attendance will be the founder of Lola cars, Eric Broadley MBE, who will be joining Martin Birrane, Lola’s current owner and Executive Chairman, to mark this milestone occasion.
Goodwood has presented Lola with its own event class, aptly named ‘In it for the long run’. The Huntingdon-based marque will have an exclusive paddock area, from where it will run a colourful array of cars from past to present day up the event’s famous 1.16 mile hill climb in the grounds of Goodwood House.
On the morning of Friday 11 July, 1996 Formula One World Champion Damon Hill will kick-start the Lola tributes when he drives a replica of the Lola T90 ‘Red Ball Special’ that his father Graham drove to victory in the 1966 Indianapolis 500. In 1967, the original Red Ball Special was destroyed in a last-lap accident at the Indy 500 and the Lola factory in Huntingdon has been working around the clock to get this exact replica ready for Goodwood.
While Graham Hill’s victory for Lola made him the first Englishman to win the Indy 500, his team mate Jackie Stewart was denied victory in the same race when a broken pump forced him to retire from the lead with only eight laps to go. Rewarded with ‘Rookie of the Year’ honours, the Scotsman’s gallant drive was one of the highlights of the 1966 race. Paul Stewart, himself a former Lola F3000 racer and son of three times Formula One World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, will drive his father’s Lola T90 Indy 500 car at Goodwood during the weekend.
The Friday session will see Formula One and 500cc Motorcycle World Champion John Surtees, renew his love affair with Lola, driving one of the many Lola designs present. Surtees’ fantastic record with Lola included numerous wins in the highly contested Can Am Championship, winning the inaugural title in 1966. He was also synonymous with the development of the famous ‘Hondola’ that took victory in the thrilling 1967 Italian Grand Prix.
Lola will provide another Formula One driver with a trip down memory lane. A titanic battle for supremacy in the US-based Champ Car series in the early part of this decade resulted in Lola’s winning the title every year from 2002 until 2006. The last three Championships were achieved with current F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais driving the Newman Haas entered Lola B03/00. On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July, the French driver will once again get behind the wheel of the eye-catching McDonald’s liveried Lola Champ car, which became his stepping stone into Formula One.
Lola’s wealth of successes on American soil will be represented at Goodwood in the hands of two other legends - Carl Haas and Paul Tracy. Canadian Tracy is one of the 'cult heroes' of American single seater racing. His championship winning run in 2003 saw him score seven victories, beating arch-rival Bourdais, then in his rookie year, to the crown. Tracy's relationship with the French four-time Champ Car title winner was often tested and the pair came close to blows at Denver in 2006. However, this weekend at Goodwood will see their track rivalry put to one side when they join forces to celebrate Lola's golden anniversary.
American racing legend Carl Haas helped Lola attain prominence in both Indycars and the Can-Am series. Having won the Can-Am series in 1978 with Alan Jones driving, five years later Haas teamed up with Hollywood acting legend Paul Newman to create one of the most evocative teams in US racing history - Newman Haas Racing. Lola and the team took the PPG/CART title with drivers Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991) and Nigel Mansell (1993). A further five titles followed with Lola designed cars in the Champ Car Series. Carl Haas will be at Goodwood Festival of Speed throughout the three-day event to join in the Lola celebrations.
Illustrating the true diversity of the company’s winning technology throughout the last half century, there will be a total of 16 Lola cars featured at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. On show will be the Mk 1 (first car built by Lola), the Formula 5000 T332, the Mk IV, the T160 and the ground-breaking MG Lola LMP675 sportscar that raced at Le Mans 24 Hours in 2002 and 2003.
Martin Birrane has invited the Eric Broadley MBE to be an honorary guest at Goodwood. Using his £2,000 savings, Eric formed Lola Cars Ltd in 1958 setting up a modest work shop in the South-East London suburb of Bromley. Since then the marque has gone from strength to strength, building almost 4000 competitive cars and recording more race and championship wins than any other racing car manufacturer in the world.
Birrane, commented, “It is indeed an honour for Lola that some of the greatest names from the world of motor sport will be supporting our 50th celebrations. Many of them have contributed to some of the company’s finest achievements. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the most colourful motor sport events in the world and having so many Lola cars driving up the renowned hill climb will provide the perfect setting to mark our golden anniversary.”
This year will be the 16th running of the Goodwood Festival of Speed at which cars and drivers from around the world gather together to celebrate motor sport, both past and present. The 2008 Festival of Speed theme is 'From Hawthorn to Hamilton' celebrating 50 years of British F1 success. With five ex British F1 champions (Graham Hill, John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill) all having raced Lola designs with distinction, it is a fitting occasion to celebrate Lola's golden anniversary at one of the highlights of the British sporting and social calendar.
All pictures Lola Heritage.
Sir Jackie Stewart driving the Lola T92 at Goodwood.
The Lola built MG-Lola LMP675 car at Le Mans in 2001.
The first car built by Lola - the Mk 1 pictured recently at Brands Hatch.
Sebastien Bourdais in the Lola B03-00 Champ car.
Eric Broadley and Graham Hill at the 1966 Indy 500.
Eric Broadley (left) and Martin Birrane.