What will be left of the 2020 British national racing season?
The month of April is traditionally when the motor sport season gets into full swing. It’s when racing truly becomes the norm again at most given weekends. But it’s best…
A series taken from the 164-page Motor Sport special Great Racing Cars, which is available to buy 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.
Rally star turned racer, Le Mans pioneer
My favourite racing car was the Alpine-Renault that Lella Lombardi and I shared in European rounds of the 1975 World Sports Car Championship. It was wonderful, and capable of challenging for victory at Le Mans. I really hoped to continue beyond that season, but Lella harboured F1 dreams, which she fulfilled, while I felt I’d reached my limit. I was able to compete in sports cars, but didn’t feel I could aim any higher.
When the ACO accepted my Le Mans entry in 1971, incidentally, it ended a long-standing ban on female drivers [one imposed after Annie Bousquet’s death at Reims in 1956].
From the Motor Sport archive May 1974:
Alpine-Renault win at home
At the Circuit Paul Ricard, on Sunday, April 7th, the opening round of the 1974 European 2-litre Sports-Car Championship saw the young Frenchman, Alain Cudini, score three significant “firsts”, when he won the 68-lap event in his Equipe Switzerland Archambeaud Alpine-Renault. It was his first 2-litre sports-car drive, the first occasion the new A441 model had raced, and the first Championship points the manufacturer had scored since first contesting the Championship at the beginning of 1973.
It was for Cudini, his equipe, and of course Alpine-Renault, a momentous occasion, for he had helped to ease the pain suffered during their disastrous 1973 season when Alpine-Renault entered like a lion, and disappeared like the proverbial lamb mid-way through the contest, failing to score a single point. For Elf and Renault, the win could not have happened at a better time or place, for not only was it on French ground, hut it fully justified the large amount of francs both companies are alleged to have put into the effort. In a minor way it can be compared to Matra winning at Le Mans, and, of course, it adds a new dimension to the four-year-old Championship, which has in the past been dominated by the British makes Chevron and Lola, and the Italian Fiat Abarths.
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