Lola's Bid for CanAm Domination

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Lola’s Bid for CanAm Domination

THE Canadian-American Challenge Series, CanAm fee short, fl. never enjoyed much of a reputation outside North America, especially since it was relaunched in 1977 to a slightly emasculated formula after a three year gap. Vol the huge CanAm cars are exciting in the extreme, attract top-rate drivers (Jacky 1cItx won the 1979 Championship) and traditionally the Series has been almost totally dominated by British-built cars. McLaren were overwhelming in the old formula, while Lola’s T333 model has won all three of the new formula Championships. Lola’s Eric Broadlcy, who has found big business in CanAm since it began in 1966, believes that the sometimes lack-lustre Championship is improving in interest and status and that 1980 could be a classic season. Many well-known drivers are seeking rides, new cars from Chevron and Penske should add some spice, and ground effects will come into full play after a flirtation by some teams last year. To meet the challenge, Lola, Britain’s most prolific racing car manufacturers, have invested £60,000 in the development of a brand-new ground effects car, the T530. . . . a car, This Broadlev designed-car is Lola’s first completely new design for the current CanAm regulations, which allow fully-enveloping bodywork on a single-seater chassis, a choice of normally-aspirated, stock-block engines of up to 5-lives, or 3-litre racing engines, and a minimum weight limit of 1,635 lb. The T333 was little more than a full-enveloped T332 Formula 5000 car,

dating back to 1972. Broadley showed as the prototype T530 at Lola’s Huntingdon factory just before it left for testing at Jim Hall’s Rattlesnake circuit in mid-Texas. It had already-impressed Tomboy and Redman in shakedown tests at Snettcrton and

Silverstone. Development work began at the end of 1978 and included considerable wind-tunnel work in the SERA facilities in Paris. According to SERA’s figures the new Lola has More down force and less drag than the Formula One Ligier, developed in the same wind tunnel. “With a ground effects car it’s really smatter of designing the underneath of thecae and building the rest around it, though the top surface is part of the aerodynamic circulation,” said Broadley. The fully-enclosed CanAm car’s vast body area — it is 7 ft. wide and a giant of a motor car to a European unfamiliar with CanArn machinery — uses the top surface of the bodywork more than an Fl car, but uses the actual ground effects slightly less,”at least at the

moment,” Broadley smiled. The T530 uses a very wide monocoque — full width between the skin boxes — to avoid the torsional rigidity problems suffered by the very narrow monocoques currently used for ground effects cars. Monocoque structures are incorporated in the side pods and carry the fuel cells, as well as giving increased strength to the overall chassis tub. “We did stun off by hanging

. . . bodywork on a Formula One layout, but it didn’t work. We got totally confused and found lots

more problems than expected,” says Broadley. Enhanced driver safety is a major benefit of the wide monocoque and was a high priorsty in Broadley’s design philosophy. Additional Safety points are roll over hoops incorporated in the full monocoque sections behind the scat and from the

dash panel forward. The main ground effects area is directly under the driver, between the skirt boxes hung on each extremity of the monocoque side structures. Very light body side panels incorporating a foam sandwich for strength and resistance against delamination are hung on sub-frames from the outside of the skirt boxes. Secondary ground effects areas are formed between the side panels and the skirt boxes. The carbon fibre and ceramic skins are wring loaded to keep them on the gro.d. The main bodywork is of colour impregnated moulded, ultra-lightweight Polyester and Nom. “Sandwich” construction — a new technique — made by Specialised Mouldings, just round the corner Vont Lola on

the industnal estate. Upward pitch characteristics over brows are a major problem to big-bodied CanAm cars. Lola themselves have “upended a few T333s”, Redman having a particularly nasty backward somersault accident at St. Jovite in the first T333. The T530’s MaSSiNte nose shape with adjustable splitter and radiator flaps, results from Broadley’s attempts to eradicate this dangemus pitch and the inboard front suspension and brake cooling ducts are all designed to assist. Quarter-scale wind tunnel tests

suggest satisfactory results. Brake cooling has been another big area of development on the T530. “CanAm cars can never be driven really hard because the brakes

fade,” Broadley commented, “but we hope cracked that problem.” For the first time Lola have done a full series of flow tests on b cooling, using SERA’s facilities. The massive’ air-flowed front trunking arrangement, leading tu shrouds over the outboard, 10.9 in. i

The fully-adjustable suspension Mom conventional racing car practice: the from employs wide-based, fabricated lower wishbones and upper rocking arms operating inboard. co-axial dampers/coil springs, and an inboard anti-roll bar: the rear has lower parallel links, fabricated upper links, twin radius rods, co-axial outboard damper coil springs and an inboard anti-roll bar. Aluminium-bodied Koni dampers are fitted and the magnesium hub-carriers are of Lola manufacture.

Twin radiators are mounted in the nose and big NACA ducts feed an oil cooler in each side pod The two bag tanks in the monocoque sides hold the regulation 26 gall. of petrol and havt quick-fill, dry seal fuel fillers to allow the maximum 11 gall. top-up to be taken on in just 6 sec, during the mandatory refuelling stops. A steel-tube, argon-arc welded engine trame designed us mount a fuel-injected, dry’stattP• 5-litre Chevrolet Z28 engine as a semi-stresscd member. The 5-speed and reverse transaxle is a Hewland DG 300 on which the full width, adjustable rear wing is mounted. The push-rod V8s give 560 to 570 b.h.p., which makes thc choice of a 3-litre racing engine in the sate minimum weight chassis a non-viablr preposition. Penske apparently toyed with Is idea of running a DFV for the 1980 season, but fell back on the faithful Chevrolet when he failed in an attempt to have the minimum weigh, reduced for 3-litre cars. CanAm is all oboist big, • brute-power engines, the SCCA decided, and opening the door any wider to Grand Prix engirM would ruin the formula’s unique flavour. The T530’s vital statistics are: overall I 182 in; overall width, 83 in: wheelbase. 106.5 front track, 70 in., mar track 64 in.: we 1,650 lb. The Lola cast magnesium alloy w are.I 3 in. x 11 in. and of three-piece assembIY.

the front and one-piece, 15 in. x 18 . rear. Broadley has high hopes of a Championship win with the T530, which anticipates will be at least 2 sec, a lap quicker most circuits than the T333. Lola’s US agent Haas has already ordered a batch and Ore

anticipates making eight or 10 cars for this se “Hopefully the design will develop over a nu of years and we’ll probably make 30 or 40 total.”

Haas and J. Hall will•run a factory T530 f “name” driver yet to be announced (Twit, likely contender,. As this was written, testtng at,c Rattlesnake had been delayed by the hopefung temporary’ loss of the prototype somewhere in the US railroad system! Broadley expressed high hopes for the fusoeett CanAm. “It’s growing into a more sophisticated form of racing and the cars and drivers are being sorted out, with much better quality.” Out

further comment revealed that there is still some way to go ni development of the formula: “We’ve Sad to make the car ea, to work on because the teams generally are not up to the standard of Formula One teams.”

Other Lola Developments

Sports 2000 racing grew up around the Lola T490 in 1977. Now this popular formula has become internationally accepted and offers good business to the manufacturer of a competitive car, so Lola have designed a brand-new model, the T590, to replace the now outclassed T492.

Unlike the T490 series, the T590 is purposc built for the formula. Compared to the T492 it is narrower, lower and much lighter. By reducing the overall height, laying the driver down more and positioning all components as low as possible, the centre of gravity has been reduced. Together with substantially revised suspension geomet,, this has enabled the car to accept considerably greater lateral cornering forces; the lengthened wheelbase has altered the weight distribution and consequently improved handling and stability. “The big difference is in ‘turn-in’,” Bob Marsden, the car’s designer, told us. “It has a much better front end: the old car had an understeer problem.”

Wind tunnel testing at Imperial College resulted in a body with 10°A less drag and considerably more downforce. The three-quarter monocoque too is completely new and stronger, with improved kotwell protection and resistance to crash damage. Further detail improvements include better brake cooling and improved engine mountings. Maintenance is said to be particularly easy.

The first time out with the new car, on a cold winter’s day at Snetterton, Lola’s Sales Manager and Development driver, Mike Blanchet, ran below the lap record at Snetterton and a potential customer subsequently took 2 sec, off the Zandrnort lap record.

The T590 rolling chassis costs C6.750 plus VAT, inclusive of the four-speed and reverse Rowland Mk. 9 transaxle, belts, fire extinguish, exhaust ,stem, engine mountings, mirror and .fully-piped oil system, but less the Formula Ford 400 type engine.

By current standards, the highly competitive Sports 2000 formula is a not too expensive and very sensible way rose motor racing in a “proper” racing car, without the sometimes lunatic dangers of the more extrovert open-wheel formulas.

“Formula Three is our bite Broadley commented, referring to a particularly poor 1979 season with u new chassis “which wouldn’t work, and we’ve just fotmd out why. It was designer stupidity — 1 designed. it l” The problem was an aerodynamic one and a revised version of last year’s car, though fitted with a Super Vee engine (the two formulae share the same chassis), was being readied I’itt wind-tunnel testing during our visit. Biwa,/ views it with great confidence. Mike Blanchet sees Super Vee as having a great deal of potential and Lola intend to push it in the USA and Europe. The in-line, 1,600 c.c., water-cooled VW engines give about 175 b.h.p., making them almost as quick — quicker on some circuits — as Formula There. Alas, it is almost as expensive as Formula Three and Blancher eels that fuel-injection should be banned in favour of carburetters, to increase the differential.

The bulk of the 200 or so racing cars built annually at Lola are Formula Ford and Formula Ford 2000, mainly for the USA and Europe, because, as Broadlcy put it, “there are too many dicey deals in Formula Ford overbore to get too involved.”

Straight-line speed seems to be all important in US Formula Ford racing and the cars for that market are narrow tracked. This has always meant that handling has gone to the wind, “but now we’ve got them to handle as well.” Blanchct told us.

As we walked round the Lola factor y, where new machines have been installed to pre-cut and drill monocoque panels for quick and easy assembly and where almost every part of a Lola is manufactured except for castings and glass-libre, we noticed several rows of strange little single-seater cars. They transpired to be T506Bs, built in batches of up to 30 for US track operators, who hire out these 50 m.p.h., belt-driven racing cars to “over-sixteens” at 1 dollar 50 cents per lap, against the clock. Power comes from twin-cylinder, Bombardier-Rotax, two-stroke engines, driving through a special gearbox built up by Lola in conjunction with Hewland.

But the biggest surprise of our visit was to round a corner and be confronted by a brand-new Lola T70 Mk. IIIB Group 4 coupe under construction, which immediately threw all our views on “the replica syndrome” into consternation. After all, it can’t be a replica tithe original manufacturer is making it with the original jigs, moulds and off-the-shelf parts, albeit after a production gap of over nine years, can it? This magnificent red car was bound for a customer in Britain. Another, yellow example had recently been despatched to a US enthusiast. Sr will be interesting to see how the HSCC regards the British car on a dating basis. . . .

Even more unriguing were two further T70 chassis covered by dust sheets “for a secret Le Mans project”, in connection with which we heard the words “Aston Martin engine” uttered by a Lola mechanic. The wheel seems to be turning full circle, — C.R.

The HSCC Historic Special GT Championship

BY COINCIDENCE, a communication from the Historic Sports Car Club, announcing a new sponsor for its 10 round Special (iT Championship, arrived as our printers were setting the Lola story above. It reminded us that the Championship is for ears built between 1965 and 1968, so we shall watch the future of the new 1979180 T70 Mk. IIIB with interest.

Last year’s series mania fact won by a -r7o, that of Mike Wheatley, and the Club expects more T70s to come out from hibernation tor construction?) to challenge the Marshplant T70, David Piper’s Ferrari 330P (built in — when was it — 1978?), Mike Salmon’s GT40, some early McLarens and a hoard of Chevron B8s.

The series will be sponsored by Willhire, a van, motor home and truck hire operation run by HSCC member Roger Williams in East Anglia. Championship dates are: April 20th, Cada/ell Park; May 5th, Thruxton; May 1 I th. Brands Hatch: May 26th and June 28th, Silverstone; July 19th,20th. Donington (which the HSCC can’t spell); August 3rd, Mallory Park; August 25th Castle Com.; September 21st, Donington; October 5th, Brands Hatch.

The HSCC will also run a 12 round Championship for Classic Sports., built between 1960 and 1964. — C.R. • • •

No actively involved motorsport enthusiast worth his salt should be without a copy of the FIA Year Book of Automobile Sport, the official handbook of world competition motoring. The 1980 edition has just been released by the UK publishers, Patrick Stephens Ltd., Bar Hill, Cambridge CB3 REL, price £9.95 net This pocket sized book has 792 pages, including 198 photographs and 203 drawings. All the regular features are included, including photographs and biographies of the 1980 FIA graded drivers, photographs of the leading non-graded drivers and the 1979 FIA Championship winners, photographs and technical details of the world’s leading competition cars, the 1980 homologation list, the text of the International Sporting Code and Appendices H, J and M, current circuit safety criteria and the 1980 FIA Championship regulations. Also included are details and maps of the World’s major racing circuits and hill climb courses, a useful directors section, the 1980 international racing and rally fixture lists plus names and addresses of organising clubs and 1979 FIA Championship results. Absolutely indespensable, — C .