Yes, in 1999 Mercedes-Benz built a flying car for Le Mans. Well, in all honesty I don’t think they specifically made a wingless airplane, but that CLR took flight. Despite the horrific (and absurd) crash, Peter Dumbreck walked away unscathed, a proof of Mercedes ruggedness. Though maybe they should consider a built-in parachute.
PS: That was the second CLR to reach for the clouds at La Sarthe. During practice on the Friday of the race Mark Weber flipped car #4 🛫.
A couple of months ago Ford released in their YouTube channel the documentary “Ford GT: The Return to Le Mans”. In almost 80 minutes they talk about the whole project, from the original GT40 to the new GT project. And just as cool, you can see a lot of race backstage.
For a race fan this is a real treat, to the point that I downloaded it to watch on a big screen TV. And one last thing: guess what will be the next model review here at W-143? 😎
Le Mans, June 14th, 1990. Nissan Motorsports had three cars on the track, ready for the gruesome 24 hours of racing on the following Saturday, June 15th. Two of them were RC90CK and one was the older RC89CP. Mark Blundell was piloting RC90CK #24, and it was his turn at qualifying on that Friday.
Specially at high level endurance racing, there’s an equilibrium between raw power and engine lifespan. All cars can produce more power then what they race with, but their engines would not last the 24 hours. So essentially engines are detuned for reliability. However, unbeknown to Mark or the whole Nissan team, his engine was faulty. When he started his qualifying lap, the wastegate for his RC90CK’s turbo system stuck shut. That translated to instead of the optimal 700-800 hp normally produced by his 3.5-liter twin-turbo V8, the turbos were delivering in excess of 1000 hp!
With that kind of raw power he lapped La Sarthe in an eye-watering 3m27.020s. Okay, but is that fast? If you take into consideration that the second fastest came a full 6 seconds (!!) behind, that’s unheard of. During that lap, on the Mulsanne straight he reached 383 km/h. As a comparison, the 2019’s pole position (Rebellion’s R-One AER #13) clocked 339.1 km/h in qualifying.
So unbelievably, a mechanical issue in your own engine can bizarrely be to your advantage 😲.
In the 90s, with everybody trying their hand at GT1 racing, Lamborghini didn’t want to miss the fun. So despite basically ZERO racing experience, they contracted French Signes Advanced Technology to build them a race car. Based on the lines of the current Diablo, they came up with the Lamborghini 132 GT1.
With a specially designed 6-liter engine delivering around 655 hp, they built one road-going example. And even got it homologated by the FIA in April of 1998. However, in September Audi bought Lamborghini and the program stopped right there.
And that was that, no Diablo at La Sarthe. What a shame! I for one would love to have a racing Raging Bull in the W-143 Garage.
VINWiki brings up another cool car story. After their piece on the Whittington brother’s win in 1979 (as told by John Ficarra), I’m always stopping by their YouTube channel. This time John tells the tale about the 1965 Le Mans race. I’ve read about this story before, but he provides a LOT more detail on the whys and hows. Trust me, if you’re a Le Mans nut it will be a very well spent 20 minutes.
The bad part is that I don’t have the 1965 250 LM #21 in the W-143 Garage. And now I need it. Bad…
Late this week Petrolicius uploaded a delightful article about the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix. Full of fantastic shots of the race and backstage, it captures very well the huge drama that occurred. The Japanese GP was the last race of the season, and both Niki Lauda and James Hunt had a solid shot at the title. However, Mother Nature played an important role, that meant victory for one and defeat for the other.
Click on the link above for the full article and photos.
You HAVE TO stop at the Museo Ferrari, at Maranello. From the web site:
The Ferrari Museum in Maranello invites visitors to live the Prancing Horse dream first-hand. It offers a unique and enthralling voyage of discovery, a story told through cars that have made automotive history on streets and circuits the world over.
The coolest part, of course, is to see the cars. Right now the current exhibition is called “90 Years”, celebrating Ferrari’s 90th anniversary in 2019. With that, you can see from the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider of 1932 to the Laferrari. So without a doubt there will be LOTS to see for the petrolheads. And to drool for.
Earlier this year Bentley Motors completed 100 years. And among the commemorative editions of their current cars, they will also release something vintage. And I mean really vintage. Twelve lucky (and wealthy) customers will be owners of a brand new 4½ Litre Team Blower. The cars will be built with “a mixture of cutting-edge technology and traditional construction methods” to make them as close to the original ones as possible. The engine will be a perfect replica of the original 4.4 l inline-4, and of course with the Amherst Villiers Mk IV roots-type supercharger.
The construction of the 12 cars will start later this year, and is expected to take two years for all to be completed. So there’s still time to get the piggy bank out…
Without a doubt, the 917, in all it’s iterations, is my favorite race car of all times. In my mind it’s intermingled with Le Mans and all things that makes motorsports interesting for me. With that, I’m always looking around for info and shots of the car. And to my delight, Petrolicious has a very nice article with old photos of the 917.
I’m a big fan of Petrolicius, and I do follow their Facebook page, since they’re always showing interesting stuff. But some how I missed this article from last year. Most of those photos I’ve seen before, but a few were totally new to me. So if you want to see some very cool shots of the 917s in 1970 and 1971, click on the link.
Recently went on auction, and thanks to a blunder by the auctioneer, it didn’t sell. But though nobody actually said it is the first Porsche, it was kind of implied. However, neither Porsche nor the Porsche Museum recognize it as the first Porsche. It was though Ferry Porsche’s personal drive for many years.
Still a terrific piece of history. And as always, Chris Harris presents a very nice car video that’s worth the watch.