1981 LOLA T600 - The sole ground effect car in Classic Endurance Racing 2 & Le Mans Classic 6
The very first ground effect prototype, foreshadowing the advent of Group C
Unmolested as it has not been raced for the last 30 years
One of Two LE MANS 1981 LOLA T600
Eligible for Classic Endurance Racing 2 and the Le Mans Classic Grid 6, it will be the sole ground effect car on the grid
An extremely strong competitor
The genesis of the LOLA T600
It all started thanks to Mr Brian Redman
By 1980, at age 42, Brian Redman seemed to be at the end of a very successful racing career. He had been a winning factory driver for the John Wyer team during the Gulf GT40 and Porsche 917 years, then for Ferrari. Then in 1979, after a testing accident in a new-generation Can Am car, Redman retired to sell for Carl Haas in Lake Forest, Illinois. The glory days of his career and sports car racing seemed to be behind him...
...that was until he read the proposed regulations for the new IMSA GTP. With renewed enthusiasm, he approached Haas about a customer Lola GTP car. With Haas' encouragement, Redman presented an idea to Lola's founder, Eric Broadley, in the summer of 1980: Lola Cars Ltd. Could build a car.
Simple in construction techniques, the T600 revolutionized the sports car racing
While Lola had built the open cockpit T-510 ground effect Can Am car for 1980, the T-600 closed car was entirely new, though both were to be powered by a Chevrolet V8 (6 liter in the T600, 5 liter in the T510). Still, there was no interchangeability between Lola's two customer road racers. The T510 was a conventional chassis design constructed of riveted aluminium sheet. The Lola T600 was to have a honeycomb aluminium chassis, a first for Lola, giving it greater strength than its Can Am cousin.
Ralph Kent Cooke and Roy Woods partnered to buy the cars at $80,000 each, sans motor.
In the late fall of 1980, Redman approached Bob Garretson to as his team to handle the car. Redman retained the task of team manager and driver. Lola sent John bright for crew chief. Redman had interest Bright in the project as early as October 1980.
First Ground-effect prototype inspired by Max Sardou
The GTP series offered opportunities for exploring new technologies. Broadley approached the leading independent expert on ground effects, Dr. Max Sardou.
In 1973, while exploring the vaporization of the Venturi in a carburetor, Sardou saw the significance of the internal winglike shape that caused the air to lose pressure when the throat enlarged.
He approached Renault about incorporating venturis into the body of their new Formula 1 car, but Renault management passed, feeling that having two unproven technologies (the other being turbocharging) was too much. The following year, Colin Chapman debuted the ground-effect Lotus 1978. Sardou built his own car and modified a March BMW M1, but the additional weight of the tunnels offset the handling advantages, and the project was dropped.
Design for the T600 began in the fall of 1980, with the first car ready by spring. Using Sardou's theories, the car featured rear wheel covers and suspension components tucked out of the venture air stream to maximize down force. Since the car had no side skirts, as used on Formula 1 cars at the time, air was able to enter from the sides, and down force was actually increased as the car slid.
Powered by a Chevrolet V8 6 liter producing 630 bhp
Gerald Davis built the Chaparral Chevrolet V8. The 350-cubic-inch motor was beefed up with a NASCAR block and aluminium heads. While these changes added 25 pounds to the car, the team felt the engine would be stronger. And results proved their point, since there was not one engine failure in the entire season of qualifying or racing while averaging over four miles per gallon.
Two cars have been raced in Europe in 1981: HU2 and HU3, both owned by Ascott Collection
The Cosworth powered Le Mans T600
1981 LOLA T600 HU2
The Porsche powered Le Mans T600
The Lola T600 HU2, owned by Ascott Collection wasn't delivered to Cooke Woods until May, but the plan for the car was made back in February.
Bob Garreston had always been a Porsche man, and in theory, adding turbo Porsche power should have made the Lola even more potent. “It was an unfortunate gamble”, Eric broadly opined. “Bob didn't really want to get away from Porsche – I think he figured that the 935 was a good proven car which his team had a lot of experience with, the best way was to match a proven power unit to a proven chassis. But it just didn't work”.
It was not to be. The car wasn't finished until three days before being shipped to France. “When it arrived in France is was unpainted. “We had the car painted in the Cooke Woods team livery at Le Mans,” remembers John Bright.
Then, on the first practice lap, a CV joint sheared. After repairs test were made on a local airfield, where fluctuating fuel pressure ended the day. That was fixed when turbocharger boost disappeared. (Post-race tests showed that the intercooler hadn't been securely welded, allowing leakage). The crew had designed the exhaust system by calculation based on the 935.) Despite the skills of Redman and Rahal, it was not able to be qualified.
Brian Redman said about the Lola Porsche at Le Mans: “I was absolutely against the program. When they decided to try and do it there wasn't enough time. I was overruled, and they told me that the car would definitely run a week before the race. It broke down on the first lap, so we missed the Wednesday practices”. A disaster due to a lack of time.
Ownership history of HU2 - only 5 owners since new
May 1981: Delivered to the Cooke Woods team
After Le Mans, Ralph Kent-Cooke fitted the car with a Chevrolet V8 and entered it in several races in 1983 including the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours
In 1984, Ralph Kent-Cooke sold it to Steven Wieneck from Wieneck Motorsports
1986 : In this guise, it was acquired by Peter Kaus from the Rosso Bianco collection. It remained on display in his museum for almost two decades. During this period it received a yellow livery similar to HU1.
2006: Following the break-up of the collection, it passed to Mr Kent Abrahamsson.
2017: 11 years late, it joined the Ascott Collection. It received back its 1981 Le Mans livery
: T 600
: Aluminium unibody and honeycomb
: Chevrolet V8
: 630 hp @ 7 200rev/min
: Hewland DGB
: 850 kg