Monthly Archives: December 2012

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Making a Sears Point

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Every once in a while, if you are lucky, you witness a performance on the track that takes your breath away. For example, I look back to Sonoma County in July 2000. Allan McNish, still smarting from not being allowed to fight for the top step at La Sarthe, put on a display that crushed the rest of the field. By the time the Wee Scot handed over his Audi R8 to co-driver Dindo Capello, he had lapped the opposition. That list included two factory BMW V12 LMRs and two works Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S entries, oh and Emanuele Pirro in an identical R8. I struggle to remember such a dominant display.

Here is Allan on lap two already pulling away from the other Audi, with the Panoz pair shadows in the distance and who knows where the BMWs were?

Days in the Sunshine…………………California Dreaming.

John Brooks, December 2012

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…………….

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March 1999 and the first round of the American Le Mans Series, also by happy coincidence the 47th edition of the Sebring 12 Hours. No one present could have imagined that the gig would go on as long, or be as successful, as it eventually turned out. Well the party is coming to the end, so let’s all head on down to Hendricks Army Airfield for right old knee’s up next March. It may be the final opportunity to see real sportscars on the runways.

Here from the last century is a proper Ferrari Porsche challenge, a Doyle-Risi Racing 333Sp and the Champion Racing 911 GT1 EVO, classic and timeless……………….Play It Again, Sam…….and if I had been on my third coffee of the day I would have noticed that the headline I apprehended from Casablanca also involved an alliance between the French and the Americans, can’t say that I see much of Bogart in Don though………………

John Brooks, December 2012

Over the Hills and Var Away

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The second year of the BPR Series saw more victories for the McLaren F1 GTR, this time GTC Competition would not throw the title away. From the outset, Ray Bellm and James Weaver were on the pace. On a chilly, crisp day at Paul Ricard during the opening round they had the measure of the field, even the Ferrari F40 GTE.

John Brooks, December 2012

Giving it a Go……

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A beautiful loser, the Mercedes Benz CLR was a very elegant coupé, enhanced by a lack of logos. Of course the aerobatic displays at Le Mans have given the car a notoriety that still causes Stuttgart to wince. It is small comfort to know that it was not alone in the matter of defective aerodynamics, Porsche, BMW and Audi all flew at the time but none on such a public stage. Here Bernd Schneider cuts the Ford Chicane is a desperate attempt to keep up with the Toyotas, all in vain before sunset on Saturday.

John Brooks, December 2012

A Touch of Class

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1995 and one of McLaren’s golden years. Winning the Le Mans 24 Hours at the first attempt and trouncing the opposition in the BPR Global GT Endurance Series with their fabulous McLaren F1 GTR. OK they had a crap season in F1, but regular readers (both of you) will know that such matters are regarded as a mere trifle on this blog.

In the run up to La Sarthe the pack headed to Donington and once again it was a McLaren fest. The above GTC Competition example did not fare so well as the others, being delayed with a broken gear linkage and so relegated Championship contenders Ray Bellm and Maurizio Sandro Sala to 15th place, out of the points. A rare slip from Woking’s finest.

John Brooks, December 2012

GT One

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More from the archives, this time back to 1999 and the finale of the first season of the American Le Mans Series. No problem with car counts in the last century, 43 racers took the Green Flag at Laguna Seca. Making a one off international appearance was the Sintura-Judd S99 in the hands of Richard Dean and Kurt Luby. The designer, Phil Bourne, is still active at the races but the car disappeared into the ether when GT1 was killed off. A 9th place finish on the Monterey Peninsula gave a hint of the car’s potential.

John Brooks, December 2012

Half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong ?

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The past is a foreign land never to be visited again, the memory frequently plays tricks, often at odds with reality. When I think back to Le Mans 1980 I conjure up an image of awful weather and Jean Rondeau taking a popular, but unlikely, victory. Scanning in a recently discovered batch of negatives, I find that for the most part it was sunny. Maybe during the rain I was in the bar with my old mate, Box, rather than trackside…………..plus ça change.

Here as the shadows lengthen along the Main Straight, the WM P 79/80 of Max Mamers and Jean-Daniel Raulet leads the pre-race favourite Porsche 908/80 of Jacky Ickx and Reinhold Jöst. The former would finish eleventh, the latter second.

The 908/80 was a bit of mongrel, a consequence of the Top Brass at Porsche decreeing that the three time Le Mans winning 936 be put into retirement, largely as reaction to the shellacking they received from Renault in 1978. A number of 936 spare parts were “liberated” from Weissach and appeared in Jöst’s workshop. There a new car was assembled but to tow the corporate line it was designated the 908/80, to simple folk like me it was a 936……………quack. quack and all that.

Virtually nothing remains of this scene just 32 years later, with everything changing in 1991 when the new pits were finished. The Gendarmes have also largely disappeared from the stadium area, a pity as they added an authentic Gallic flavour to the proceedings.

John Brooks, December 2012

Zakspeedy

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Today’s trawl into the past features a race I had forgotten that I had even attended. Back in July 1980 the organisers of the recently revived Donington Park came up with the cunning plan of getting the fabulous DRM series to cross the North Sea and entertain the masses. Like many cunning plans this did not take into account that the preceding round of the DRM was at Norisring, and even by that track’s standards it was something of a crash-fest.

Still Zakspeed brought over three examples of their Ford Capri Turbo and we were all mightily impressed. The winner that day was a man I still bump into at the races, Klaus Ludwig.  A three time winner of both the Le Mans and Nürburgring 24 races and a multiple Touring Car Champion, he was one of the top drivers in the latter part of the last century.

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo, some things never change, I believe it was the wrong kind of beer.

John Brooks, December 2012