Lola Racing Cars
Lola Racing Cars (also Lola Cars International) is a
racing car engineeringcompany founded in 1961 by Eric Broadleyand based in Huntingdon, England. Lola started by building small front-engined sports cars, and branched out into Formula Juniorcars 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 boatmanufacturer Lola Aylings. Lola was acquired by Martin Birranein 1998 after the unsuccessful Lola MasterCard attempt at Formula 1.
Early Days - the 1960s
Lola was one of the top chassis suppliers in
sports car racingin 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 T70and its successors (T16x, T22x) which were used successfully all over the world from the World Endurance Championshipto the CanAmseries, 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.
Group 6sports 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 5000cars) 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, Mazdaand Chevrolet, as well as the novel Polimotorengine 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 NissanGroup C entries and the Chevrolet Corvette GTPprogram. 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 LMRand 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 Mansby the works team as the MG-Lola EX257, and was also run as the Lola B01/60by 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 Acurapowerplant run by Fernandez Racing. In addition, an essentially brand new LMP2 prototype, the B07/40, was built to house the new AER-based Mazdaengine. 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 Racingand in the Le Mans Seriesand the 24 Hours of Le Mansby 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 Racingand the Swiss Spirit team (using the same engine as the Audi R8).
Lola (in association with
Tracy Krohn) has taken over the Multimaticfranchise in Grand-Am's Daytona Prototypecategory in 2007. Krohn used his current Riley cars at the 24 Hours of Daytonain 2008 but switched to the new cars later in the season.
Lola has also introduced a pair of closed-cockpit
Le Mans Prototypesin 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 engineto GT1specification, 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).
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 Onein 1962, supplying Lola Mk4cars to Reg Parnell's "Bowmaker-Yeoman Racing Team", with John Surteesand Roy Salvadorias drivers. A measure of success was immediate, with Surtees's car claiming pole positionin 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 Andersongave 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 RA300was 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
BMWF2 cars were subsequently entered in the F2 class of the German Grand Prixat about this time.
Towards the end of his long career,
Graham Hillfound 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 Smallmaninto the Hill GH-1 in 1975, but the team's first in-house design, the GH-2, remained unraced when Hill, Smallman, Tony Briseand 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 Tambayjoining in a second car for 1986. A works Ford- Cosworthturbocharged 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 BMWunits 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).
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
LamborghiniV12 power for 1989 and once the Chris Murphy-designed car was on stream, scored some good results with Éric Bernardand 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 Cosworthpower 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 Ligieroutfit into a position in the constructors' championship that gave them significant FIA benefits.Fact|date=February 2007
Scuderia Italiaprogramme was something of a disaster from the start. The team had done reasonably well with Dallarachassis 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 Alboretoand Luca Badoerstruggled to even qualify for races. The team withdrew from F1 before the end of the season and partly merged with Minardifor 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 McNishdid 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 MasterCardcaused 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 Mellingwas going to be fitted to the cars, which initially started racing fitted with underpowered Ford CosworthED 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 3000cars. 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 Birranewho then started to build it up again. There were rumours that one Zoran Stefanovicwanted 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 Raltdesign - the Ralt RT2 became the TolemanTG280, which Toleman licensed to Lola who productionised it as the T850. When Formula Two became Formula 3000in 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 Raltand 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 Prixseries. Lola built 50 identical ZytekV8-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.
In the late 1960s, the
SCCA's Formula A series evolved into Formula 5000and 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.
Lola had built chassis for the
Indianapolis 500as early as the 1960s -- Graham Hillhad won the 1966 Indianapolis 500in a Lola, and Jackie Stewartraced a four wheel drive Lola there. Al Unser, Sr. won the 1978 Indianapolis 500race 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
CARTand the Indianapolis 500beginning 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 Luyendykin 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 Racingusing their own chassis, Newman/Haas Racingusing 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 Racingswitched 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 Seriesin 2002 and 2003 meant that development on the Reynard largely ceased and by 2004 Lola was the only remaining manufacturer in the Champ Carseries. For the 2007 season, Champ Car switched to a spec Panozchassis, 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 Lightsdevelopmental series that was used from 1993 to 2001, replacing the previous car that was essentially a modified March 85B Formula 3000car.
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 Dallaranear-monopoly has proven tough to displace.
Lancer WRC04with the 4G63 engine was mounted to a 5-speed semi-automatic transmissionand 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 tunneland significant changes to body were made after that.
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 Atlanticcars tended to be derived from F2 and F3 designs, and other Lolas have raced in Formula Ford, Sports 2000, Formula Super Veeand many other categories, often designed by people who went on to successful careers elsewhere in the sport -- Patrick Headof 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.
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 PrototypeSR1, LMP900, and LMP1 classes
* /20 -
* /30 -
Formula 1, later replaced by Formula 3
* /40 -
Le Mans PrototypeSR2 and LMP2 classes
* /50 -
Formula 3000& Formula Nippon
* /60 -
Le Mans PrototypeLMP675 class, later LMP1 Coupes
* /70 - Mexican
Formula 3000, later touring cars, now Daytona Prototypes
* /80 -
Le Mans PrototypeLMP2 Coupes
* /90 -
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".
* [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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