Lola ended a year of 50th anniversary celebrations with a street demonstration through its home town of Huntingdon on a sunny Sunday afternoon in October – and the event certainly caught the imagination of locals.
The racing car constructor, which has been based in the Cambridgeshire town since 1970, estimated that 10,000 people turned out for the display, and from what Motor Sport could see that might not be too much of an exaggeration. Crowds lined the 1.6-mile route from Lola’s base round the ring road and into the market square, where Oliver Cromwell rallied his troops during the Civil War. The town centre was then log-jammed as the crowds headed into the square to a Festival of Speed-style paddock of cars.
The convoy was made up of 16 Lolas, driven by a host of names associated with the marque. John Surtees was guest of honour and drove a T70 MkIIIB in the parade. Others driving a wide range of cars, from Formula Fords to a Formula 5000 to various sports racers, included James Weaver, Anthony Reid, Julian Bailey, Danny Watts and James Leslie, son of the late, much-missed David Leslie. Other guests included former Lola drivers Teddy Pilette, Hugh Dibley, Richard Attwood, Chris Craft and designer Tony Southgate.
Lola founder Eric Broadley and current owner Martin Birrane were presented with commemorative scrolls, as local dignitaries, including the town mayor, paid tribute to the company for its role in the community.
Surtees said: “What’s important is that we are standing here today, celebrating 50 years of Lola. Eric was very hands-on in those early days and he was a good driver himself, so his cars were very user-friendly.”
Birrane, who saved Lola from extinction when he bought out Broadley in 1997, said: “We are much more than just a motor sport company, with key customers in aerospace, defence, automotive and communications. The next 50 years are going to be just as exciting as the first 50.”