Shots at The Palace

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I may not have been very impressed with the recent Classic & Sports Car Show at Alexandra Palace, thinking it a bit light on content and a bit heavy on dealers. However some 15,000 enthusiasts climbed up from Wood Green to Ally Pally on the hill during the three days of  the event, so someone is doing something right. Amongst those making the trek was master photographer Simon Hildrew and he offers us his customary silk purse.

John Brooks November 2016

The Family Silver

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2015 JB General

The Special Correspondent and I were invited to a book launch yesterday evening. Not just any old book launch but the premier of Nigel Trow’s masterpiece “Maserati The Family Silver”.

2015 JB General

This encyclopedic work in two volumes is likely to be the last word in telling the story of the charismatic Maserati brand through lives of the men who have guided the Modenese icon for over a century.

2015 JB General

Fourteen years have passed since the author commenced work on this history and the expression ‘labour of love’ is the only possible verdict.

2015 JB General

Motor Sport legend and multiple World Champion, John Surtees CBE, was present, celebrating the anniversary of his victory in the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix driving a Cooper T81 powered by a V12 Maserati engine. It would prove to be the penultimate Grand Prix victory for Maserati bringing down the curtain on the company’s international racing story till 2004.

2015 JB General

The event was held appropriately at Maranello Maserati in Egham and those who were lucky enough to be invited were generously looked after, also enjoying the fabulous collection of Maseratis and Ferraris, old and new, on display.

A review of the book will follow in due course, plenty of reading in the meantime.

PS those of you who cannot wait to see my leaden prose can get the book HERE and make their own judgements. The book is not cheap neither are the cars but true value cannot be measured in money alone.

John Brooks, November 2016.

NEC Treat

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There are a few events in the calendar that  are “must do” and the Classic Car Show at the NEC falls into this category. So The Special Correspondent and I will make the trek from Euston next week for another portion of automotive goodness. I would encourage those of you who are able to make the same journey to do so, you will not be disappointed.

Here is a selection of what we saw last year.

John Brooks, November 2016

Ally Pally?

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2016 JB General

While I careen down the autobahn of life I figure I have witnessed a fair amount of automotive stuff, but events sometimes prove that theory to be, if not redundant, a bit shaky. Take Friday, for example, I went up to London, Alexandra Palace to be exact, to see a car show. Well there was a car show, “The Classic & Sports Car Show” to be exact but it was not like others I have attended.

2016 JB General

Usually the show’s organisers cajole owners and car clubs to bring along stuff for us to admire and lust after. Manufacturers too are encouraged to show examples of their heritage to reinforce their brand image and values. However this show had but one stand that could be considered an exhibit, the rest of the affair was wholly made of car dealers and others selling goods and services, some car related, some not. A bazaar for the modern times, especially in the cosmopolitan ant heap that is London.

2016 JB General

The centrepiece was the grandly titled “A Century of Supercars”, as voted for by 17,000 readers of the magazine, giving the People’s Choice for the most desirable supercar of them all.

2016 JB General

The motors concerned ranged from the Bentley 4½ Litre Blower to a McLaren P1 via various Lamborghinis, Ferraris and a Bugatti. Now one might have thought that cars used as examples of their breed would be impeccable in their provenance but getting hold of an original Blower Bentley, one of the 55 built, seemed to be a step too far. The Bentley on show UW 7771 was originally a 4½ litre with a saloon body from Harrison, sold to a Mrs Beit in January 1930. Some time after the War it became a replica Blower when raced by a chap called Butterworth. Does this matter? Well yes and no, some would find it important, others would confine such discussions to the “How many angels could dance on the head of a pin?” drawer………….you be the judge.

2016 JB General

The winner of the poll was, unsurprisingly, the McLaren F1 and doling out whatever award was on offer was John Surtees, the only man to have won World Championships on two wheels and on four.

2016 JB General

Another feature of the show that was heavily promoted was the Live Parades on the roads around the Palace. Leader of the pack was the Tyrrell P34, unique in its configuration of four wheels at the sharp end.

2016 JB General

Leaving the hall to snap the parade I encountered a gentleman who was looking for the place that shuttle bus would leave to take him back to Wood Green tube station. He remarked that he had only come to see the Tyrrell, then it was back to deepest Wales. Emboldened, as I am at such events, I enquired what interest he had in this piece of Grand Prix history. “My name is Bob Tyrrell, Ken was my father.” He was a charming chap and I would have cheerfully spent more time with him recalling the era when I was actually interested in Formula One. However the lure of the Great Western train back to home proved too strong.

2016 JB General

This encounter set the tone for the day, I bumped into a few other petrol heads, some I already knew, some I did not, but we all shared a passion for cars. I was wondering what to make of the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa on the GTO Engineering stand. I heard a voice, “Must be a customer car, the factory TR’s had De Dion rear suspension.” Such detailed knowledge is common at such events and serves as a reminder to me to keep schtum rather than revealing the limitations of my wisdom concerning the automotive universe.

2016 JB General

There was naturally an auction going on in the background, Coys had assembled a fine selection of cars that were way out of my league price-wise.

2016 JB General

One lot that caught my attention was this 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV and my interest was heightened when I discovered that the original owner was one Rod Stewart. Through buying his records back then I had contributed in some small way with his acquisition of this Italian classic. Every picture tells a story indeed.

2016 JB General

There were dealers all the way through the two halls, with all manner of other goods for sale, including vintage clothing.

2016 JB General

One stand that did get my attention was the fine graphics on display at triplespresso, I am a sucker for the clean lines of this kind of art.

2016 JB General

Was the show worth going to? Not easy to answer, a brisk trade seemed to be going on all round  but there was little of the passion that you can feel at the Rétromobile or Techno Classica. As they would say in The Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” and that may be the factor that I missed. Perhaps I am not part of the target audience.

2016 JB General

One thing that did put a spring in my step was transported both back in time and to and from Wood Green tube in a red Routemaster, fifty years or so have gone since I used to traverse North London in such a vehicle, some things never go out of fashion.

John Brooks, October 2016

 

A Revived Revival

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2016 JE General

The nineteenth running of the Goodwood Revival was effectively the start of a new era, as the circuit has now been in operation for longer than originally, when racing began in September 1948 and ended in July 1966, partially for safety reasons. Little had changed at the circuit when racing resumed with the first Revival Meeting in 1998. Consequently, racing has been restricted to cars and ‘bikes that raced in period. That notwithstanding, developments have continued and Goodwood continues to astound, public enthusiasm for the Revival showing no signs of waning.

2016 JE General

Whilst the facility might have changed little in the intervening years, development of the machinery has continued a-pace, with many cars now going much faster than in the day – and that’s often without the star drivers that were behind the wheel way back when.
That was reflected in the way that the GT cars that normally contest the RAC Tourist Trophy were split into two groups, pre-1963 cars taking part in a newly-created event, the Kinrara Trophy, a one-hour race that ran into the twilight on Friday evening. Despite being a late addition to the programme, Dane Tom Kristensen stamped his authority on proceedings when he was drafted in to share Joe Macari’s Ferrari 250GT SWB. He firmly planted it on pole despite not having sat in the car before Friday morning, but the cars’ owner left him with a lot of work to do by dropping down to eighth in the opening stint of the race. He rose to the occasion, helped a little by others’ misfortunes, storming back up the order to win, the Ferrari completing the distance some 12.8-seconds ahead of the Martin Hunt/Patrick Blakeney Edwards Jaguar E-Type.

2016 JE General

The RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration occupied its traditional slot on Sunday afternoon, and catering purely for 1963-64 cars saw a healthy grid of predominantly AC Cobra and Jaguar E-Type machinery. The simple statistics will say that the Chris Ward/Gordon Shedden E-Type started from pole position and led away to eventually win from a trio of Cobra’s, the Michael Squire/Frank Stippler car heading Andrew Smith/Oliver Bryant and David Hart/Giedo van der Garde, but there was plenty of action along the way. Many considered that Shedden was lucky not to incur the wrath of the stewards when he lapsed into a bit of BTCC-style driving; a lively dice for the lead with van der Garde seeing the Cobra tapped into a spin by Shedden as they lapped backmarkers, effectively putting the Dutchmen out of contention.

2016 JE General

Saturday was wet, when a forecast that promised rain from 10am until 4pm proved to be rather accurate. The Goodwood Trohy race for pre ’51 grand prix cars opened proceedings and Calum Lockie ended up a jubilant winner in the slippery conditions his Maserati 6CM taking over at the front after five-times Goodwood winner Mark Gillies was forced to pit his ERA R3A for a plug change, rejoining to finish ninth. The podium was completed by Matt Grist’s Alfa Romeo P3 and Tom Dark’s Bugatti T73C.

2016 JE General

The Madgwick Cup for sub 3-litre sports prototypes from the 1960-66 era was something of a Lotus 23 benefit, with Andy Newall’s 23B getting the better of a scrap with Andrew Hibberd’s similar car. Joe Twyman would have made it an all-Lotus podium but a time penalty for an incident dropped him to fifth, elevating Max Bartell’s Elva-BMW Mk7S to third place.

2016 JE General

The St Mary’s Trophy race represented a departure for Goodwood but could be described as a retrospective look at the future, for it was a one-make race, something almost unheard-of in 1966 but now commonplace. The car in question was the diminutive Austin A35, a tiny unlikely-looking racer but with its readily tunable BMC A-Series engine it did indeed race in the day, largely thanks to the efforts of Graham Hill and John Sprinzel’s Speedwell concern. Anyway, celebrating its 60th birthday, a fleet of identically-prepared cars contested the two-part race, with the star drivers getting a baptism of water, on Saturday. Karun Chandhok remarked that he’s never driven anything with so little grip, whilst Goodwood debutant David Coulthard said he’d been told the car had about 90 horsepower, but he reckoned most of them were hiding in another paddock! Whatever, the touring car experts Andrew Jordan, Gordon Shedden and Steve Soper filled the podium on Saturday, whilst James Dorlin, Charles Knill-Jones and Mike Jordan did likewise on Sunday, overall victory going to the Jordan’s, despite getting through three engines during the weekend.

2016 JE General

The Lavant Cup, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the BMW 328, saw Martin Hunt’s Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica lead all the way except when it mattered – the last lap! He lost speed with a moment at Lavant allowing Malcolm Harrison’s Cooper-Bristol to snatch victory with pole-sitter Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (FN Targa Florio) finishing third. The rain was at its worst for the Whitsun Trophy, hardly ideal for the ‘big banger’ sportscars so it was perhaps fitting that race winner Rob Huff was awarded th Rolex Driver of the Weekend for his efforts in the Lotus-Oldsmobile-19. He had a mighty scrap with Mike Whitaker who had recovered from spinning his Lola T70 Spyder on the warm-up lap, only to have one or two grassy moments in the race. It was a somewhat heroic (or brave!) first-time outing at Goodwood. Third place went to Tiff Needell on board Paul Whight’s Lotus 30. With the weather starting to improve, Saturday’s racing ended with Richard Woolmer (HWM-Cadillac) winning the Freddie March Trophy, narrowly beating Rob Hall’s Aston Martin DB2 and Steve Boultbee-Brooks (Aston Martin DB3S).

2016 JE General

Sunday could not have been more different, with the sun shining down on Goodwood once more. The action started with the Chichester Cup for front-engined Formula Junior cars. Andrew Hibberd (Lola-Ford Mk2) inherited the lead, and victory, on the penultimate lap after misfortune befell others. Joe Colasacco’s Stanguellini-Fiat was a close second and Chrsis Drake’s Terrier third. Despite losing the nose from his Scarab after contact with Tony Wood’s Tec-Mec Maserati, Julian Bronson clung on to win the Richmand Trophy. A pair of Ferrari 246 Dino’s completed the podium, Andy Willis heading Rob Hall.

2016 JE General

Even though regular winner Andy Middlehurst did not take part in the Glover Trophy race, a Lotus 25 nevertheless still came out on top as Nick Fennell’s similarly Classic Team Lotus-prepared car got the better of a scrap with Martin Stretton’s Lotus-BRM 24. With Miles Griffith’s similar car in third place and Richard Attwood’s BRM P261 coming home fourth, that remarkably meant BRM engines in three of the first four cars. The final race of the weekend, the Sussex Trophy, fell to Chris Ward’s Lister-Jaguar Costin, from Gary Pearson’s Lister-Jaguar ‘Knobbly’ and James Cottingham’s Tojeiro-Jaguar, so bringing to a close a superb weekend’s racing with few major incidents and seemingly much improved diving standards.

2016 JE General

The Goodwood Revival is about so much more than just the racing and amongst many of the attractions there were tributes to Jack Brabham, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his third World Championship, uniquely driving a car bearing his own name. Sons David and Geoff, together with other family members and friends were on hand to mark the occasion and witness parades of the many varied cars from his career.

2016 JE General

That 1966 championship was the first of the 3-litre era, the new more powerful cars playing a part in the cessation of racing at Goodwood in 1966, but nevertheless here was a retrospective look to the future with demonstration laps of 3-litre F1 cars, including examples of Brabham, Cooper and McLaren that would have tested at Goodwood in the day, as well as three examples of the Lotus 49, the car that introduced the all-conquering Cosworth DFV to motor racing.

2016 JE General

Away from the track there was plenty to keep visitors occupied. The Earl’s Court Motor Show this year majored on Lamborghini, with everything from a tractor to the latest model. Dotted around the paddock a variety of period transporters could be seen, from the prosaic Morris Commercial-based transporter used to transport works BMC MGA’s, to the flamboyant Fiat originally supplied to the Scarab F1 team but subsequently owned by Shelby, who had to beef it up with an extra rear axle in order to bear the weight of the Cobra’s as they travelled around Europe. Even more unusual was a single-car transporter built by Dennis in nearby Guildford, better known for their fire engines and dustcarts.

2016 JE General

The air displays were somewhat muted this year in the wake of the tragedy in Shoreham a year ago. However, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight made its customary fly-past, whilst there were frequent displays during the weekend by the sole airworthy Bristol Blenheim, accompanied by Spitfire and Mustang.

2016 JE General

Back on the ground, we were reminded that it was 1966 by crowds of enthusiastic football supporters celebrating England’s success in the World Cup – looks like they might have to make that one last a bit longer yet!

2016 JE General

What will Goodwood have in store for the 20th Revival Meeting in 2017? A look back at 1998, perhaps?

John Elwin October 2016

Arts & Elegance

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2016 JE General

Now in its third year, the Peter Auto-organised Chantilly Arts & Elegance Concours is rapidly establishing itself as a leading event of its kind, right up there with Villa d’Este.

2016 JE General

Indeed, like the Italian event, Chantilly was also supported by BMW as part of the Bavarian manufacturer’s centenary celebrations.

2016 JE General

Despite early morning rain and leaden skies for the rest of the day, some 13,500 visitors were drawn to the absolutely stunning surroundings of the Domaine de Chantilly, north of Paris, to see some magnificent machinery and to be entertained by the Garde républicaine (think Household Cavalry).

2016 JE General

The Concours d’Elegance was divided into classes, and as well as being on static view, the cars were paraded in front of the assembled crowd. To add to the style, each entry in the manufacturer’s concept car class was accompanied by a fashion model representing one of France’s fashion houses. First prize in that class went to the DS E-Tense, accompanied by a creation from Eymeric François. However the choice of the public was the Mercedes-Maybach 6 Vision, accompanied by a model representing Jean-Paul Gaultier.

2016 JE General

Another model from the same fashion house combined with the McLaren 570GT to take the prize for the most beautiful ensemble. Zagato have diversified from its usual fare to produce a motor-cycle for MV Augusta and that led to a special prize.

2016 JE General

Away from the modern exotica there were plenty of breathtaking machines entered in the numerous other concours classes, from which the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Berlinetta, with coachwork by Touring and owned by American collector John Shirley, was awarded Best of Show.

2016 JE General

There were too many other classes to list them, some with titles such as ‘The former English marques’ (ie. no longer in business) or ‘The great untouched travel sedan cars and limousines’ – that went to a delightful 1938 Packard.

2016 JE General

Italian exotica was well-represented, including classes for the Lamborghini Miura (celebrating its 50th anniversary), a tribute to the Pozzi racing team and two classes for Tour de France cars, both of which were won by Ferraris.

2016 JE General

There were also numerous Alfas, from pre-war to a recent Zagato creation, whilst a small but select group of front-engined Formula 1 cars saw the prize go to a 1946 Gordini Type 11 from a pair of Ferraris and a BRM.

2016 JE General

Any event is not complete these days without an anniversary to celebrate and in the case of Chantilly it was Jean Todt’s 50-year career in motor sport. Now President of the FIA, he was a leading rally co-driver before moving on to team management, primarily with Peugeot during the Group C days and then at Ferrari throughout the Schumacher era.

2016 JE General

From a selection of rally cars from his past, a 1979 Peugeot 504, still owned by fellow rally star Jean Guichet, with whom he shared the car on the Argentinian Rally, was given first prize in the Tribute to Jean Todt class. The wide-ranging display of rally machinery also included Ford Escort Twin Cam, Alpine-Renault, Fiat 124 Spider, Sunbeam Lotus and Peugeot 205. The man himself was on hand too, to award the prizes.

2016 JE General

Away from the concours, a busy club area saw a huge range of vehicles on display, some a little strange such as the Rolls Royce that had been mated with an MGB bodyshell! Aside from that, there were some good club displays with the likes of Bugatti – the modern ones – Jaguar well-represented, as well as inevitably the various French brands. It was all very sociable too, as many of the visitors enjoyed a picnic lunch in the areas set in woodland adjacent to the moat surrounding the Chateau.

2016 JE General

A delightful, laid-back, hassle-free day out, Chantilly should be on every enthusiast’s must-do list. The 2017 edition is scheduled to take place on 10 September.

John Elwin, October 2017

Travel the Breadth of Extremities

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2016 SH General

The shift from mid to late summer is marked by the latest edition of the Silverstone Classic which bills itself as “The world’s biggest classic motor racing festival”. With over 10,000 classics on track and on display who could argue with that claim, certainly not the 100,000 who made their way through the turnstiles over the three days.

2016 SH General

While there is something to savour at almost any angle around the huge Silverstone arena there were a few favourites worthy of highlighting. 40 years have passed since that golden summer of 1976, those of us around at the time will not forget the epic battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Whether the same will hold true for those recalling Hamilton and Rosberg in 2056 is, to my mind, doubtful.

2016 SH General

The Group C race is always eagerly anticipated and did not disappoint as the sun set.

2016 SH General

There were some modern classics on hand, such as this Dallara SP1 decked out in the 2002 livery.

2016 SH General

The clubs were properly represented as usual, with Lancia Stratos still looking dramatic, 70’s design at its finest.

2016 SH General

Lamborghinis were also prominent on the Muira’s anniversary.

2016 SH General

And there was the inevitable Stag Do

2016 SH General

The Silverstone Classic has something that will appeal to any petrol head, be it F1, Saloons, GTs, even drag racing and there’s always the static stuff as well. Roll on 2017.

DDC is fortunate to enjoy the work of Simon Hildrew and, now, so are you.

John Brooks, October 2016

The First Steps

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2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Most of you will know that Petit Le Mans runs this weekend, bringing down the curtain on the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It is also the final performance in the career of the Daytona Prototype class.  Who could have imagined back in 2003 that we would still have evolutions of this class of car racing for victories and titles?

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The DPs, as the more polite members of the racing community referred to them, made their début at Daytona International Speedway running in the 2003 Rolex 24 Hours.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

There were just six cars entered in the class with four chassis types and five different engine suppliers. Three of these were Fabcar FDSC/03s and two of these were entered by Brumos Racing and were, naturally, Porsche powered. #59 in the famous red, white and blue livery had Daytona 24 Hours legend, Hurley Haywood, leading the driving squad, with J. C. France and Indy Car hired guns, Scott Goodyear and Scott Sharp in support.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

#58 had David Donohue, Mike Borkowski, Randy Pobst and Chris Bye behind the wheel. Brumos had an air of quiet confidence having had an extensive test program and a recent 27 hour test that all went as well could be expected.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Cegwa Sport entered a Toyota powered Fabcar for Darius Grala, Oswaldo Negri, Josh Rehm and Guy Cosmo.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Lined up against this trio were the Italian built Picchio BMW DP2 for Boris Said, Darren Law, Dieter Quester and Luca Riccitelli, entered by G & W Motorsports.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

A familiar face at the Rolex was Kevin Doran and, although his team was not there to defend their 2002 crown, he had built the Doran Chevrolet JE4 for Bell Motorsport. It would be driven by Terry Borcheller, Forrest Barber, Didier Theys and Christian Fittipaldi. The team was on the back foot from the start as the project was late in completion and had virtually no testing, not the way to approach the Rolex 24.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The final DP entered was the Multimatic Ford Focus MDP1 from Larry Holt’s Canadian outfit. He had regular  team drivers Scott Maxwell and David Empringham with David Brabham completing the line up.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Just six cars in the “top class” and they were not even the fastest round the track at Daytona, that honour fell to Justin Bell and the Denhaag Motorsports Corvette running in the GTS class who posted  a 1:49.394, over a second faster than the class leading Multimatic.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Let’s consider the situation, short of numbers, slower than the previous top prototype class, visually challenged and despised by legions of internet forum heroes, why did Grand-Am persist with this exercise in motor sport time travel? Tube frames in an era of carbon fibre, mocked as Proto-Turtles, what was the point? Indeed why did the mighty NASCAR empire devote time and resources to endurance racing when the core business was so successful and all consuming?

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The final question is easiest to answer. Bill France Snr. had launched the Daytona sports car events back in 1962 and by 1966 that had morphed into a 24 hour that attracted a top international entry, Ferrari even had one their most famous Gran Turismos nicknamed after Daytona. So it has become part of the Daytona tradition to kick off the Speed Weeks with an endurance sports car race and by continuing the tradition it is honouring Bill Snr.’s legacy and memory. There is also the practical point that the Rolex 24 acts as a rehearsal for the Daytona 500 in getting the Speedway staff and other interested parties up to speed before the huge crowd arrives on race day for the opening event in the NASCAR calendar.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

OK, why did the folks on West International Speedway Boulevard take the route of Daytona Prototypes? The answer is simple; cost, control and safety. Grand-Am was born out of the vacuum created by the demise of IMSA as run by Andy Evans and the subsequent rise of Don Panoz’ American Le Mans Series. This was perceived as a threat to hegemony of Daytona Beach in North American motor sport circles. Don owned Road Atlanta and Mosport and had manufacturers such as Audi, Porsche, Corvette and Viper beating a path to his door. He was serious and had the resources to match his ambition. The link with the ACO and Le Mans 24 Hours gave him and the ALMS instant credibility.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Something had to be done. In 2000 Grand-Am kicked off in the best possible manner with a great edition of the Rolex 24. Anyone interested in reading about that race might enjoy THIS

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

For the 2000 season Roger Edmondson, President of Grand-Am, attempted to forge links with John Mangoletsi’s Sports Racing World Cup from Europe to increase the number of prototypes available to populate the grid. This initiative failed, “Mango” could not deliver his side of the bargain, only a few cars made the trip across the Atlantic to the mid-season races at Daytona and Road America.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The Audi R8 prototype was rampant in the ALMS and at La Sarthe and would run at astronomical speeds if let loose on the banking at Daytona International Speedway and the consequences of something going wrong were only too easy to imagine. The open cars also had a potential safety issue, highlighted by the fatal accident of Jeff Clinton at Homestead early in the 2002 Grand-Am season. The flurry of legal action that followed that accident focused minds in Volusia County.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

 

Cost was also a problem, even manufacturers of the size of Cadillac realised that they could not outspend Audi in the spiralling arms race that motor sport has always been. Detroit would not sanction such expenditure that had little return on investment and in the face of a declining financial situation that would eventually require a US Government bail out. There was very definitely a finite limit of what competitors could be expected to spend.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The only realistic solution to the issues of cost for Grand-Am was to write the rule book themselves giving them total control over all aspects of their series and not being dependant on outside parties building cars to others’ regulations and also not having manufacturers dominate proceedings.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The high tech and costly solutions involving carbon fibre, Kevlar and electronic wizardry were out except on bodywork and ancillaries. The traditional tube-frame construction would the basis for all the cars. Seven different chassis were approved, along with engines that were also tightly regulated. Another benefit to Grand-Am was to lock in those teams that invested in Daytona Prototypes, there was nowhere else to race these odd machines.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Well that is how members of the media like myself and the fans that flock to DIS in late January first encountered the Daytona Prototypes in the flesh. They looked awful, especially compared with the Audis and Bentleys that would run at Sebring a few weeks later but they were affordable and a business could be made running them. In any case no one at Grand-Am was going to pay any attention to a bunch of whiny Europeans that only showed up once a year to enjoy some Floridian sunshine.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

 

Mind you it was not just us Aliens that did not care for the first iteration of the DP. I have been in recent correspondence with one of the drivers who lined up at the sharp end of the grid on February 1st. His verdict was “Damn, that’s an ugly car!”

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The half dozen Daytona Prototypes were stationed at the head of the 44 cars that started the Rolex 24 in 2003. Flags were at half-mast around the track as news came in that morning of the loss of the space shuttle Columbia over Texas as it headed for for its base at Cape Canaveral, it was a sobering moment.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The early laps were led by Maxwell in the Multimatic with the Brumos pair keeping a watchful eye.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Then the problems began as the Doran headed for the pits suffering with all manner of issues, it was too new to be racing at a place as tough as DIS. Retirement was the fate after 67 laps.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The Picchio ended up behind the wall with overheating issues that plagued it for the rest of the race.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Then the Multimatic suffered a broken throttle cable which was repaired but cost the team many laps that they struggled to make up, the days of a big speed differential of the prototypes over the GTs were over.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The Fabcars were leading as the sun set with the Toyota powered car following the Brumos entry.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

Disaster struck the #58 as the normally bullet proof Porsche engine suffered a failure, perhaps the bit that was most expected to last. Two DPs out as the long dark night arrived.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

More throttle problems for the Multimatic during the night ended their challenge for overall honors.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The best of the DPs was the #59 but a trip off track to avoid contact with a stationary, stranded GT caused all manner of issues that dogged the car for the rest of the race.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

All of this misfortune handed the Rolex 24 to the Racer’s Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the hounds had outlasted the hare.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The best result for the Daytona Prototypes was a fine fourth overall for Multimatic, always playing catch up after their unplanned pit visits. The drivers had the consolation prize of new Rolex watches.

2003 Rolex 24 Hours

The Daytona Prototype era had got off to a shaky start but they would assert their authority over the GT classes in the future and by the Gen3 they looked like proper racing cars. They have provided the foundation for Grand-Am and now the IMSA championships. Few would have bet on that back in 2003 but they have earned their place in the history books.

John Brooks, September 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Takin’ It To The Streets

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The streets of London have seen most things during the several thousand years that settlements have existed by the banks of the Thames but even for such a cosmopolitan place today was a bit special.

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Early morning workers on their way to toil and extremely well refreshed revellers lurching back to base were treated to the vision of a pair of Porsches running round the streets of the capital.

The Panamera 4 E-Hybrid would not have turned heads, fine vehicle that it is.

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Its companion on the run round famous London landmarks such as Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square will have caused the revellers to curse that last drink and the workers to reach for another expresso.

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Normally confined to the race tracks the Porsche 919 Hybrid was takin’ it to the streets in the hands of Mark Webber, a top bloke.

This Porsche recently took the German marque’s 18th victory at Le Mans and its purpose this morning was to “demonstrate how Porsche is translating its race-winning Hybrid technology from the track to the road.” At least that was what the press release said.

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My take on things is that winning at La Sarthe accrues a sizable amount of bragging rights, and why not display them on the streets of the world’s number one international city? A chance to demonstrate how performance motoring will look in the future.

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There were no road closures just a police escort on the run across Central London. Next stop is Japan and the 6 Hours of Fuji.

John Brooks, September 2016

Past Pleasures

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2016 SH General

Summer starts to take its leave for another year and September arrives bringing in its wake a flurry of motoring extravaganzas to keep our spirits warm during the long dark times ahead. One of the highlights of these autumnal automotive celebrations is the Goodwood Revival. A report will be forthcoming in due course but our old friend Simon Hildrew was prowling the premises and has come up with this fantastic set of images for our enjoyment.

John Brooks, September 2015