Lola Racing Cars


Lola Racing Cars

Lola Racing Cars (also Lola Cars International) is a racing car engineering company founded in 1961 by Eric Broadley and based in Huntingdon, England. Lola started by building small front-engined sports cars, and branched out into Formula Junior cars before diversifying into one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of racing cars in the world.

Lola is one of the best-known names in automobile racing. A subsidiary of Lola is the rowing boat manufacturer Lola Aylings. Lola was acquired by Martin Birrane in 1998 after the unsuccessful Lola MasterCard attempt at Formula 1.

Sports Cars

Early Days - the 1960s

Lola was one of the top chassis suppliers in sports car racing in the 1960s. After his small front-engined sports cars and various single-seaters, Broadley designed a Lola coupe fitted with the Ford V8 engine. Ford took a keen interest in this and paid Broadley to put the company on hold for two years and merge his ideas with Roy Lunn's work, giving rise to the Ford GT40. Broadley managed to release himself from this contract after a year and started developing his own cars again, starting off in sports cars with the Lola T70 and its successors (T16x, T22x) which were used successfully all over the world from the World Endurance Championship to the CanAm series, until 1973. Recently, Lola announced that a new batch of T70 coupés, to the original specifications, will be released. These will be homologated for historic racing and there is talk of a one-make series for the cars.

The 1970s

Various Group 6 sports cars including the T212 and T28x/29x/38x/39x series were also built, competing with Chevron, March and others. Alain de Cadenet's Le Mans 'specials' tended to be based on Lola technology.

Lola (with rebodied Formula 5000 cars) dominated the CanAm sports car series when it was revived in the late 1970s, but many motorsports fans do not consider the single-seater Formula 5000-based cars from this era to be true sports cars, despite their full bodywork and enclosed wheel-wells.

The 1980s and early 1990s

Lola introduced the T600/T610 range for IMSA GTP racing in the early 1980s - these were fitted with a range of engines including Cosworth, Mazda and Chevrolet, as well as the novel Polimotor engine built using composite materials. Derivatives of this car were successful for some time in IMSA and Group C racing. Later Lola Group C and GTP cars tended to be built specifically for manufacturer programmes, specifically the later Nissan Group C entries and the Chevrolet Corvette GTP program. Lola also built a car for the 3.5 L Group C formula, the T92/10, but the championship collapsed before this could be fully developed.

The late 1990s and 2000s

More recently, Lola has produced a range of sports cars for Le Mans-style racing starting with the B98/10, which was successful in the European market but less so in the USA. The B2K/10, with its additional central headlight reminiscent of a cyclops or a locomotive was more notable for its looks than its performance. While Lola has had limited success in the top class of the sport versus factory cars like the BMW V12 LMR and Audi R8, Lola has enjoyed periods of dominance in the second class (formerly LMP675, now LMP2), including championship class victories in the American Le Mans Series, although this has been threatened in the ALMS LMP2 by works-supported entries from Acura and Porsche.

A dedicated LMP675 car was built for MG in 2001, powered by a two-litre four-cylinder AER turbocharged engine. This was entered at Le Mans by the works team as the MG-Lola EX257, and was also run as the Lola B01/60 by private entrants. Later developments of this car have been fitted with assorted small V8s and the chassis was developed into recent customer LMP1 and LMP2 chassis.

An updated version of the Lola LMP2 came in 2005 with the introduction of the Lola B05/40 (also known as the MG-Lola EX264/265). It quickly became a contender in LMP2 by taking class honors in 2005 and 2006 at Le Mans with Ray Mallock Limited. It also earned several class wins in the American Le Mans Series in 2005 and 2006 with Intersport Racing, including a second-place overall finish in the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring. In 2007, extensive updates were made to the chassis, to accommodate the all-new Acura powerplant run by Fernandez Racing. In addition, an essentially brand new LMP2 prototype, the B07/40, was built to house the new AER-based Mazda engine. This new version is being run exclusively in the U.S. by B-K Motorsports.

Lola also updated its LMP1 challenger in 2006 with the introduction of the B06/10. The car was run in the American Le Mans Series by Dyson Racing and in the Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans by UK-based Chamberlain-Synergy Racing. Chamberlain continued to run the machine in 2007 and 2008, while the former Dyson cars have been run off and on in the ALMS by Cytosport Racing and Intersport Racing. As with its LMP2 program, the 2007 calendar year saw Lola introduce further upgrades with the debut of the B07/10, which saw action in the Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Charouz Racing and the Swiss Spirit team (using the same engine as the Audi R8).

Current Projects

Lola (in association with Tracy Krohn) has taken over the Multimatic franchise in Grand-Am's Daytona Prototype category in 2007. Krohn used his current Riley cars at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2008 but switched to the new cars later in the season.

Lola has also introduced a pair of closed-cockpit Le Mans Prototypes in 2008, the first of which is the B08/60 running in the P1 category. The first B08/60 to appear will be raced by the Charouz team (with assistance from Prodrive) and will feature an Aston-Martin V12 engine to GT1 specification, as permitted by a recent rule change. The B08/80 is built to P2 regulations and is being used by Sebah Racing (and Speedy Racing in the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours).

Formula One

Lola resisted making a 'works' Formula One entry for many years, being content to construct cars on behalf of other entrants. Lola's first works entry in 1997 led directly to the financial ruin of the company.

Bowmaker and Parnell

Lola made its first foray into Formula One in 1962, supplying Lola Mk4 cars to Reg Parnell's "Bowmaker-Yeoman Racing Team", with John Surtees and Roy Salvadori as drivers. A measure of success was immediate, with Surtees's car claiming pole position in its first World Championship race, but although points were often scored, wins in Championship Grands Prix eluded the team. After Bowmaker's withdrawal, Parnell continued to run the cars privately. Privateer Bob Anderson gave the Mk4 its last victory, in the non-Championship 1963 Rome Grand Prix. Consistency, however, was not to be found, and after only two seasons, Lola abandoned Formula One cars for the time being.

The "Hondola" Honda RA300

In 1967, Lola assisted Honda Racing and John Surtees with the design of their F1 car. The overweight chassis design by the engine-specialists from Honda was abandoned, and a Lola Indianapolis monocoque used as the basis for a Honda-engined car. The resultant Honda RA300 was unofficially called the "Hondola" by the press, and was sufficiently light and powerful to win the 1967 Italian Grand Prix.

BMW Formula Two cars

A number of Lola-built BMW F2 cars were subsequently entered in the F2 class of the German Grand Prix at about this time.

Embassy-Hill

Towards the end of his long career, Graham Hill found it difficult to attract works drives; with a view to both finding a drive and a future as a team owner he established his own team backed by the Embassy cigarette brand. After an unsuccessful 1973 with a customer Shadow the team commissioned its own cars from Lola. The T370 was largely based on F5000 practice, and looked similar to Lola's F5000 offerings, although it sported an extremely large airbox. The car was developed by Andy Smallman into the Hill GH-1 in 1975, but the team's first in-house design, the GH-2, remained unraced when Hill, Smallman, Tony Brise and several other team personnel were killed in an air crash in November 1975.

Team Haas Lola/Beatrice

The Haas-Beatrice-Lola F1 programme was extremely promising, funded by a large American industrial conglomerate and run by the highly experienced Teddy Mayer, with the promise of works Ford power, but it flattered to deceive. The handsome car, designed mostly by Neil Oatley, was barely a Lola; the name was used largely because Haas was Lola's US concessionaire although Broadley had some involvement with the car. Alan Jones was tempted out of retirement to drive it in F1 races towards the end of the 1985 season, with Patrick Tambay joining in a second car for 1986. A works Ford-Cosworth turbocharged engine was promised, but this did not materialise until 1986 and old Hart four cylinder units were used. Car, engine, drivers and sponsors were all troublesome and the team folded after the 1986 season with most of its assets (including the factory) being sold to Bernie Ecclestone. At one point during the season, Ecclestone informed the Beatrice/Haas/Lola team that "his driver" (Patrese) would be in the car at the next meeting; Ecclestone was primarily interested in acquiring the Ford engines as a replacement for the BMW units in his Brabhams but the manufacturer vetoed this, offering the engines to Benetton instead. He used the team's factory to build the ill-fated Alfa Romeo "ProCar" (a series for "silhouette" touring cars with F1-style mechanicals and engines).

Larrousse-Calmels

The Larrousse-Calmels programme was initially much lower-key than the previous effort. Starting from a simple Cosworth-powered car based on Lola's F3000 technologies, the French team built up a steady reputation in normally-aspirated F1 from 1987 on. They attracted Lamborghini V12 power for 1989 and once the Chris Murphy-designed car was on stream, scored some good results with Éric Bernard and Aguri Suzuki. The team experienced some problems after Didier Calmels' arrest for the murder of his wife, but continued at a slightly lower key with Cosworth power again. Unfortunately due to irregularities with the team's F1 entry in 1990 (the cars were entered as Larrousses but were really Lolas) they lost all their constructors' points - which promoted the politically well-connected Ligier outfit into a position in the constructors' championship that gave them significant FIA benefits.Fact|date=February 2007

cuderia Italia

The Scuderia Italia programme was something of a disaster from the start. The team had done reasonably well with Dallara chassis before, but turned to Lola for 1993. Powered by customer Ferrari engines, both engine and car seemed to be well off the pace and Michele Alboreto and Luca Badoer struggled to even qualify for races. The team withdrew from F1 before the end of the season and partly merged with Minardi for 1994.

The Unraced Test Cars

Lola built a number of Cosworth V8 powered test cars in 1994-5, with rumours of a Havoline-funded quasi-works Ford team. The rumour was that Cosworth V12s badged Jaguar would go to Benetton and Lola would inherit the Zetec V8.
Allan McNish did much of the test driving, but as this was a period of instability in the F1 rules little was achieved.

The MasterCard Works Programme

Lola had originally intended to enter Formula One in their own right in 1998, but pressure from main sponsor MasterCard caused Lola to debut its new car one year early, in 1997. The sponsorship model was curious, linked both to MasterCard membership of a 'club', and to results - something a first-year F1 team often finds hard to achieve. A custom-built V10 engine from Al Melling was going to be fitted to the cars, which initially started racing fitted with underpowered Ford Cosworth ED V8s.

The cars had a lot of problems, the worst being aerodynamics - they had never even been wind-tunnel tested when they arrived in Australia, which by that point in time was unthinkable. The car was fundamentally flawed, and the lack of wind-tunnel time had made it even more of a joke. Despite the fact of the car's problems, the team was confident that it could finish ahead of some of the other teams. The results were disastrous, the cars were well off the pace and were no faster than Lola's Formula 3000 cars. After only one race the sponsors pulled out; the team turned up for the second race in Brazil but the cars did not turn a wheel and that was the end of the MasterCard-Lola story. Shortly afterwards, the entire Lola Car Company went into receivership. The company was saved by Martin Birrane who then started to build it up again. There were rumours that one Zoran Stefanovic wanted to purchase the chassis and use them as the basis of a 1998 privateer effort, but nothing came of this.

Complete Formula One World Championship results

() (Races in bold indicate pole position.)

Formula Two / Formula 3000 / A1GP

After their limited success in the 1960s with Formula One, Lola turned its attentions primarily to sports cars but also to Formula Two, where Lola became the works team for BMW. As the years went on, Lola had somewhat more success in Formula Two than it ever had in Formula One, although as March and later Ralt established themselves, Lola's involvement in the category became intermittent and less successful. The final Lola F2 was in fact derived from a Ralt design - the Ralt RT2 became the Toleman TG280, which Toleman licensed to Lola who productionised it as the T850. When Formula Two became Formula 3000 in 1986, Lola made a "false start" with a car based on their significantly larger Indycar chassis; from 1986 they returned with a bespoke F3000 design and the cars enjoyed significant success for the next few years, competing with Ralt and Reynard, although Reynard effectively wiped the others out of the market. In 1996 International Formula 3000 became a one-make series and Lola was awarded the contract by the FIA to build all Formula 3000 cars, a contract which was renewed in 1999 and 2002 before International F3000 was replaced by GP2. The sole holdout, Formula Nippon, ran mixed grids of cars (with Reynard dominating) until 2003, when Lola was awarded that contract as well. In 2004, every Formula 3000-class car in the world was produced by Lola, but from 2005 Lola focused on Formula Nippon, having lost the bid to build the new GP2 chassis.

Lola succeeded in winning the largest-ever contract for single-seater racing cars in 2005, winning the contract for the A1 Grand Prix series. Lola built 50 identical Zytek V8-powered A1 Grand Prix cars which were leased to the national franchisees (although the teams' spare cars were recalled part-way through the 2005 season to be used for spare parts); development work on these is strictly prohibited. The cars are approximately at the F3000 level of technology and provide close, spectacular racing. The contract concern the three first seasons of the racing series between 2005 and 2008.

Formula 5000

In the late 1960s, the SCCA's Formula A series evolved into Formula 5000 and attracted the attention of more professional drivers and teams. It was intended to be a cheap, high-powered open-wheeled racing series using relatively cheap tuned stock-block V8 engines. Lola entered this market as well, and after some interesting struggles with McLaren, Team Surtees and Chevron, came to dominate the later years of the series, producing the bulk of Formula 5000 cars throughout the 1970s - these competed in F5000 in Europe, the USA and Australasia. The cars continued when the CanAm series was revived using Formula 5000 cars as the base. Lola made a seamless switch into this kind of "sports car racing", and won five consecutive Can-Am championships.

USAC/CART/Champ Car

Lola had built chassis for the Indianapolis 500 as early as the 1960s -- Graham Hill had won the 1966 Indianapolis 500 in a Lola, and Jackie Stewart raced a four wheel drive Lola there. Al Unser, Sr. won the 1978 Indianapolis 500 race in a modified Lola chassis. However, the marque did not make a fully fledged attack on the American Open wheel market until the mid 1980s.

The revived CanAm was a fading series which collapsed in 1986, prompting Lola to move its focus to CART and the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1985. Once again, Lola showed its ability to succeed in all motorsports outside of Formula One, pushing March down to one team for the 1990 CART season, and out of the series altogether by 1991. Six years after its full-time entrance into Indycar racing, Lola triumphed at Indy again, as the winning car for Arie Luyendyk in the 1990 Indianapolis 500. The rivalry between Lola and Reynard continued in the United States as well as the European F3000 series. Reynard entered CART in 1994 and eventually almost completely displaced Lola from the market. By 1998 only the backmarker Davis Racing team was utilizing the Lola chassis, with Penske Racing using their own chassis, Newman/Haas Racing using the new Swift Chassis and all others running Reynards. However, when Penske Racing elected to abandon their proprietary chassis in 1999, they elected to run Lolas and to continue the development work on them. Newman/Haas and Chip Ganassi Racing switched to Lolas in running the cars the following year. By 2001 the field was evenly split between the two cars. However, Reynard's financial trouble and the fact that many of the top teams running the Reynard switched to the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in 2002 and 2003 meant that development on the Reynard largely ceased and by 2004 Lola was the only remaining manufacturer in the Champ Car series. For the 2007 season, Champ Car switched to a spec Panoz chassis, the DP01, as its new chassis used by all competitors. The previous Lola, the B03/00, had been in the series since the 2001 season.

Lola also produced the spec chassis for the CART Indy Lights developmental series that was used from 1993 to 2001, replacing the previous car that was essentially a modified March 85B Formula 3000 car.

Formula 3

In Formula 3, Lola partnered with Dome of Japan to produce a chassis since 2003. There they are competing with long-established Dallara, the two makers being among the last specialty race-car makers left in Europe. The partnership was broken for 2005, with Lola building their own chassis, which won its debut in the British series, but the Dallara near-monopoly has proven tough to displace.

World Rally

The Lancer WRC04 with the 4G63 engine was mounted to a 5-speed semi-automatic transmission and a new all-wheel drive system co-developed by Ricardo Consulting Engineers and Mitsubishi Motors Motorsports (MMSP). The bodywork was subjected to extensive aerodynamic testing at the Lola Racing Cars's wind tunnel and significant changes to body were made after that.

Others

Lola has built chassis for a wide range of minor categories over the years, as a means of training new designers and keeping the works occupied in between major programmes. Formula Atlantic cars tended to be derived from F2 and F3 designs, and other Lolas have raced in Formula Ford, Sports 2000, Formula Super Vee and many other categories, often designed by people who went on to successful careers elsewhere in the sport -- Patrick Head of Williams fame designed his first cars for Broadley. There was not much profit margin in the minor-formulae cars, which tended to be built during the summer when the factory was otherwise quiet (most senior-formulae cars are built over the winter in the off-season) - but they kept staff occupied, gave designers somewhere to learn, and established relationships with drivers at early stages of their careers.

Naming scheme

At the time of Lola's creation, their sports cars and formula cars followed a naming scheme of being numbered in order of construction, and preceded by the term Mark (Mk1 through Mk6). However in 1964, the designations were altered to become Type (marked as simply T), with the first digit or two designating what type of car, and the final digit designating a variant of that car. This continued until 1986 when the numbering scheme was slightly altered. The T would remain, yet the next two digits would designate the year of original design, and the next two would designate what type of car it was. The final digit would again denote variants of that design. This was again slightly altered in 1998, with the T being replaced by a B, in honor of Lola's owner Martin Birrane. The numbering system would however remain the same. [ [http://www.lolaheritage.co.uk/history/type.htm LolaHeritage.co.uk] - Numbering system information]

Since employing the new system in 1986, the final two digits stand for the following types of cars:

* /00 - CART & Champ Car
* /10 - Group C & IMSA GTP, Le Mans Prototype SR1, LMP900, and LMP1 classes
* /20 - Indy Lights
* /30 - Formula 1, later replaced by Formula 3
* /40 - Le Mans Prototype SR2 and LMP2 classes
* /50 - Formula 3000 & Formula Nippon
* /60 - Le Mans Prototype LMP675 class, later LMP1 Coupes
* /70 - Mexican Formula 3000, later touring cars, now Daytona Prototypes
* /80 - Le Mans Prototype LMP2 Coupes
* /90 - Sports 2000

Therefore, a car like the T92/10 would be a 1992 Group C car, and the B03/00 would be a 2003 Champ Car chassis.

Note that the current Lola A1GP cars currently do not have a designation that matches this scheme, and are marked simply as "Lola A1GP".

References

External links

* [http://www.lola-group.com Lola Cars International]
* [http://www.lolaheritage.co.uk/index.htm Lola Heritage] - Official Lola chassis index and history
* [http://myblog.de/ecofreak/art/2555551 Biodiesel Lola to race at Le Mans]


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