A series taken from the 164-page Motor Sport special Great Racing Cars, which is available to buy here.
To buy the lead image click here.
From the editor Damien Smith
How would you define a ‘great’ racing car? Race wins and championship titles are an obvious place to start – and admittedly, when we began the process of rounding up the ‘voices’ to fill this special magazine, published by the team behind Motor Sport, we had in mind the likes of the Lotus 72, Ferrari F2004, Porsche 917, Audi R10 and so on.
But as the interviews of familiar racing figures began, we realised greatness is often a very personal thing. Naturally, most – but not all – would pick cars they had experienced first-hand, as a driver, designer, engineer or team boss. And on occasion the cars that stood out in their minds as ‘great’ weren’t necessarily so in the grand scheme of history. That’s why you’ll find a Minardi here among Formula 1 cars from Lotus, Williams and McLaren.
Unexpected? Certainly. Wrong? Not to the man who chose it.
As the interviews accumulated, our magazine took on a life of its own, full of personal anecdotes about the myriad cars that made careers. Some of those we spoke to, such as Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney, couldn’t be tied to a single choice from multi-faceted lives at the wheel. Such heroes have earned the right to choose an F1, sports and Indycar, so we allowed them more than one bite.
Others refused to be confined by category. Hence the short ‘Odd ’n Sods’ chapter on cars that, by and large, are mere footnotes in lower divisions of racing lore.
Thus there is nothing definitive about the selection listed herein. Then again, there’s no claim that this compilation offers the ‘Greatest Racing Cars’ of history. It’s much more personal than that, much more quirky – and all the better for it.
Seven-time motorcycle world champion, 1964 F1 World Champion
This is not an easy choice. There are so many, and all of them so exciting. It’s a strange answer, but I think, if I have to choose one, it has to be the Ferrari 1512 that I had at Monza at the end of 1965.
I would not normally choose a 1.5-litre car, but there was something so good about the 1512 at the end of the year. I felt this really could be a very good car, and I believe it was, although it never went on to achieve very much. Despite all the problems, like the clutch failing on me at Monza that year, I knew I could have dealt with the opposition.
If only I’d had my hands on that car for the whole season I could have really nicely cemented my championship from 1964 with a second title. I think we could have had great success, the way that car felt. I had tremendous faith in Ferrari’s engine man Franco Rocchi – he came up with some good modifications for the flat 12-cylinder engine for the end of the season but unfortunately I only raced the car once at Monza because two weeks later I had the accident in the Can-Am Lola at Mosport.
We had problems with the car that we didn’t normally have, like clutch and gearbox, but the engine was superb and it handled pretty well. It was a season where we’d been playing second fiddle, the Lotus was the car to have, and we didn’t win a single race. So it was great to feel competitive again at Monza, and that’s why I’ve chosen the 1512.