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.
You always remember the car in which you scored your first major win. The 2003 Reynard-Ford/Cosworth was a lot of fun to drive. I loved the looks of that car and loved the way it drove. I just loved everything about it and it’s still a beautiful car. I’d put it up against anything else out there.
We won the last race with that car in Australia in 2003 and it was a beautiful car. I had a great run and that would have to be my favourite all-round car. It was always on edge and when you got into its sweet spot it was just fantastic. At a place like Mid-Ohio, it was a tremendous pleasure to drive.
From the Motor Sport archive
Right man for the job
The feeling in the media centre after this year’s 98th Indianapolis 500 was that the right driver and team won the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay dominated the second half of this year’s fiercely competitive 500 aboard one of five Honda-powered Andretti Autosport entries. By winning a heated duel with Helio Castroneves and team-mate Marco Andretti, the 2012 IndyCar champion cast himself as favourite to win this year’s championship.
Hunter-Reay was very competitive at Indianapolis the last two years, but was foiled in both races. He started back on the seventh row this year and took great pleasure from the opening 150 laps of the 500 run without a yellow. “The pace was just amazing, staying green for that long,” he said. “I was thrilled with our car’s pace, just picking my way through. The leaders kept getting closer and closer. It was fun. You get into a racing rhythm. And trying to maximise the ‘in’ and ‘out’ laps from the pit lane is fun. I loved it staying green that long.”
Ryan emphasised the clean and respectful nature of his battles with Castroneves and Marco Andretti. “Racing Helio and Marco, I knew there was going to be no funny business. We were going to race each other hard, take our line and stick to it. There wasn’t going to be an unexpected move at the wrong time or something sketchy.
“Marco and I went close one time going into Turn Three. We respect each other a lot on the track. It was good, close racing, but all fair. The competition in the IndyCar series is ridiculously close. It’s probably the toughest it’s ever been, the closest that it’s ever been.”