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.
2003 Williams-BMW FW25
Juan Pablo Montoya
Seven Grand Prix wins, Indycar champion and two-time Indy 500 winner
Probably the best driving car I ever had was the 2003 Williams-BMW. That car was unbelievable. It had a great balance and it was a car you could hustle like there was no tomorrow. With a V10 BMW we had close to 900 horsepower and it would rev to 19,000 rpm. It was insane!
That car had plenty of power but the good thing was it drove so well and felt so good. I’ve driven a lot of different race cars and some just drive awful. They might be quick but they drive awful. But that Williams had such nice balance. For me, turning in the middle of the corner is really important and that car would do that for me. I really loved driving that car, and we won some races too, in Monaco and Germany.
Four-time Indycar champion, 2008 Indy 500 winner
The one that really stands out was when I drove the Williams-BMW F1 car in 2003. It did everything a racing car is supposed to do. The balance was really good and the brakes were fantastic. It had all the current technology and was just a tremendous car.
Unfortunately, it was at a period of my career where I wasn’t doing much road racing and hadn’t done much road racing in big cars. I’d done two years of Champ Car and then spent a year before that doing just ovals in the IRL so I wasn’t really able to get the best from the car. But that was a phenomenal car to drive, a real pleasure and a great memory.