He smiled when I said that he appeared bemused by it all. He had been ferried about from one interview ‘window’ to another — a dinner there, a speech here — and asked a host of questions about his cars, hordes of which were blipping and ripping about us in every which direction.
Most racing-car designers are ambivalent of last year’s offering, dissmissive almost. It’s the next car that matters. Eric Broadley, the fertile brain behind Lola, is no different. His Prototype, of course, was born of the wannabe-racer glint in his eye, but that particular raison d’etre lasted just a few months: solid juxtaposition of Lola Mk1 and Goodwood earthbank, of teeth and dashboard, of knees and bodywork, during the summer of 1958, persuading him that the engineering side of the operation was perhaps better suited to his skills.
Look carefully, and that glint is still there — but only when reflected in the Prototype’s aluminium bodywork The other cars somehow fail (outwardly at least) to enthuse him. He compliments them on the quality of their restoration, expresses amazement that they are still raced so hard — but really, he’s far more interested by boats and road cars these days. This is not a criticism, just a fact. He did it all when it really mattered; we are just basking in the reflected glory.
And that’s when it struck me: it’s an odd thing, this interest in days-gone-by motor racing. That’s not a criticism (hey, I’m paid to ‘bask), just a fact. For example, is there another sporting magazine on our groaning shelves that concentrates exclusively on past exploits? Not to my knowledge.
So what triggers our nostalgia? Heroes, machines, places, noises, smells (ahh, Castrol R)?
All of those things. No other sport has so many diverse ‘hooks’. Broadley, though, has wiggled free. And we should cut him some slack. For us, Lola is a source of beautiful cars to be ogled in various paddocks, and watched (or, if you’re lucky, driven — see pages 37-47) on tracks. For him, Lola was a business, Motorsport a source of inspiration, excitement, stress and worry in equal measure. His glasses are not rose-tinted.
I wanted to know what he thought about this, that and the T212. But his answers were as pithy as they were polite. Which is why there is no interview to go with our Lola track tests. But that is apt. Never one for self-promotion, many of his company’s greatest successes were achieved while running under another’s name. And he was perfectly happy with that. We, though, are bemused by that — but respectful of his attitude. It takes all sorts to make up this sport of ours, and such diversity is why I am here writing this, and you, hopefully, will be reading it.
For that, Mr Broadley, please accept a simple thank-you.
Jim Clark’s Lotus 25 exits the Station Hairpin during the 1964 Monaco GP
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