Rebuilding a once-great racing name: The Return of Lola Cars

Increase / Lola Mk1 in the foreground and Lola B12 / 60 from 2012 in the background.

Lola’s cars

When I first heard about the plan to revive Lola Cars, I felt a certain unease. In this day and age of SPAC-fueled enthusiasm and the hype surrounding blockchain technology, it would be fairly easy for a company to adopt a cynical approach: design (if not necessarily ever build) an absurdly expensive electric hypercar and perhaps some NFTs and wait for the hype to kick in Fortunately these ideas couldn’t deviate from the plans of the new owner.

“Simply put, our plan is to bring Lola back to her previous version. For me, that means being a designer and engineer in today’s motorsport, ”explained Till Bechtolsheimer, an investor and amateur racing driver who bought the company’s assets in June.

Older racing fans will know the name Lola. The company was founded in Great Britain in 1958 by Eric Broadley, and by 1962 it entered Formula 1 as a constructor, though never with great success. John Surtees’ two runners-up that year were the best results that Lola-built F1 cars could get, and the company’s planned return to the sport in 1997 with MasterCard’s backing was a complete fiasco that ended with neither company qualifying to this year’s opening race in Australia.

But racing is much more than F1, and Lola has had great success building customer cars for other series and manuals. He built decent cars for Formula 2 and its successor, Formula 3000, although the real headlines came from Lola race winners such as the Indianapolis 500 (in 1966, 1978, and 1990) and especially sports car successes.

It’s worth noting that Ford was so impressed with the Lola Mk6 sports car that it signed a contract with Broadley to help develop the GT40 early in its operation, although Lola had minimal stake in this iconic race car that was built to beat Ferrari in Le Mans. That’s because he was busy creating his own sports prototype, the T70, which made its debut in 1965.

The T70 proved popular; More than 100 T70s were built, in coupe and Spyder bodies, and these numbers allowed the cars to stay in competition through the same gap that led to the Porsche 917. The T70 never won Le Mans – no car with the Lola logo won – but a pair of T70s replaced Porsche and Ferrari in staged accidents in the wonderful, flawed Steve McQueen Le Mans. Much greater success at La Sarthe, France came in 2000, with five class wins in the LMP675 category. Recently, Lola prototypes have also run LMP and LMP2 campaigns, creating the basis for Mazda IMSA racing until 2016.

Lola had already stopped trading four years before this season, and the following year the LMP2 rules changed so that LMP2 chassis are now only allowed from four manufacturers (Dallara, Multimatic, Ligier and Oreca).

Lola was able to announce a limited number of expensive electric hypercars, as did other revived old brands.  But that is not in the Bechtolsheimer plan.
Increase / Lola was able to announce a limited number of expensive electric hypercars, as did other revived old brands. But that is not in the Bechtolsheimer plan.

For this reason, we should not expect to see Lola Bechtolsheimer again at Le Mans or at IMSA. And as mentioned, there are no immediate plans to produce a road car, which is extremely refreshing. And there’s no plans for a factory team down Glickenhaus and his efforts at the World Endurance Championship or at the Nordschleife.

Instead, upgrading the company’s UK wind tunnel is a high priority. Before it belonged to Lola, the 50% tunnel belonged to British Aerospace and contributed to the development of Concorde and Eurofighter.

“Before I bought Lola … reviews from [those in the] The industry that knows and uses the Lola wind tunnel has widely believed that it is a very solid, reliable tunnel that produces really good, reliable data, ”Bechtolsheimer told me.

“Importantly, this data is strongly correlated with track performance,” he said. “It’s just outdated – no investments have been made in it for a long time. Control systems are outdated; they do not work with modern software. Many devices are no longer supported. re-planning nice wholesale upgrades that should make it the most efficient 50 percent tunnel in the world. Now it’s not a 60 percent F1 tunnel. This is not a full-scale tunnel. We do not necessarily try to compete with these types of tunnels. But not everyone looking to spend time in the wind tunnel will spend an F1 budget.

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