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#121

Nobody’s responded to my last post, and I apologize for the shameless double post, but here’s something that, along with the Williams FW14B, ignited my interest in F1 at a very early age: the 1992 Benetton B192.

With conventional suspension, a Cosworth V8 and a manual gearbox, it may have been underpowered and unsophisticated compared to the all-conquering Williams, but it gave Michael Schumacher his first-ever Grand Prix win (the last one ever, in fact, to be claimed by a car with a conventional H-pattern gearbox), more than 25 years ago. And it looks so much better than today’s hybrid monstrosities, with cleaner lines and better proportions overall.

Listen to it and the case for the FIA making natural aspiration mandatory again (no hybrid tech here!) will grow stronger by the second.

Here’s what Schumacher’s teammate at the time - current Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle - had to say when he drove the car for the first time since retirement:


#122

Surprised that there’s no mid-2000’s GT1 cars


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Also this beast of a car
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Always loved the sound of the LFA


#123

I like the lines and proportions of early postwar midget racing cars. Imagine going 100mph+, on dirt, in traffic, with no cage. No thanks! Slightly less dangerous than being infantry.
midget%20carMidget-Racer-picmidgetracingmidgetcartraffic


#124

Apologies for the double post, but this just happened and it’s a great story. Danny Thompson, son of motorsports legend Mickey Thompson, set a new record for piston powered vehicles on the salt in his dad’s 50 year old streamliner.

Jalopnik article


#125

90’s JGTC was just the best.

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#126

This seems like the best place to mention this. I’ve been a fan of Randy Pobst since back in the Porsche days. I sent him the following PM via Facebook:

Hi Randy! Huge fan. I play this goofy computer game called Automation. It often has design challenges where users test the speed (and other stuffs) of their designs against other people playing the game. I would love it so much if I had your permission to use your name as my “factory driver” without being sued or hurting anynoe’s feelings. It’s a great community that loves cars. And mixes it with some odd gamer storytelling. I promise to never put you into compromising positions, and I will link to you and your sponsors every chance I get. Pretty please? Thanks for your time and consideration; if you say no you have not lost a fan. Much Love!

Greg

p.s. I recently entered a “Goodwood” competition where I used a driver named “Randy Pabst” and described him as “endlessly ebullient”. Everyone knows what I was aiming for… I enjoy so much your passion for motorsport and willingness to share it with all of us.

He replied (today):

Hi, Greg, just found this message. Please Use Randy F Pobst. Have fun and thanks for the kind words!

I am happier than a pig in mud right now. I got a PM from the legendary Randy Pobst! What a great guy. So, please meet my new driver:

Woohoo!!


#127

Since Don Panoz recently passed away, I figured that now would be the right time to pay tribute to him and his company - with the outlandish Panoz Esperante GTR-1. Only one road car was built for the sake of FIA GT Championship homologation, and in fact you’re looking at it right here:

It shared nothing in common with the regular Esperante, except for its front-engined/rear-drive layout, which made it an outlier in a field full of mid-engined European exotics. Here’s the story behind it:

For those curious about its specs and results, check this out:

http://tech-racingcars.wikidot.com/panoz-esperante-gtr-1

As for the race car… I first heard about it in Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, where it was the most expensive car to buy (2 million credits?!), but can also be obtained for free by fully completing all 10 Arcade Mode time trials. So here it is being unleashed on a field of unsuspecting opponents in the game’s first event - the Sunday Cup - right after being acquired as a prize for completing every time trial at the start of the game.

Given that it’s a GT1 car, it should come as no surprise that it is a top-tier race car in this game - and well worth seeking out. The resale value of 500,000 credits is icing on the cake.


#128

double post coming up…

It’s almost too late to post this, but this year (2018) marked the 25th anniversary of the greatest racing lap in the entire history of F1, set at a wet and waterlogged Donington Park way back in 1993, and achieved by none other than the late great Ayrton Senna. And the car he used to pull off such a superhuman feat was the McLaren MP4/8.

It was the last McLaren ever to be powered by a Cosworth engine, and the last race-winning F1 car ever to be equipped with active suspension - such technology, along with all driving aids, would be banned outright at the end of the 1993 season. In this car, Michael Andretti also became the last American ever to score a point or podium finish in F1; he claimed third at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix - almost exactly 15 years after his father Mario became the last American driver ever to win a Grand Prix, period. Unfortunately, the team would not win another race for the next three seasons; only recently has the team experienced a worse slump, one I fear will not end for a few more years.

Here’s a rundown of the story behind the MP4/8:


#129

So, here’s one that even I didn’t know existed until I saw it show up in Project Cars 2.

1968 Lotus 56 Turbine

Aside from the obvious fact it has Turbine in the name giving away that fact it’s a Lotus Indy car powered by a Turbine engine, this quite insane machine was also AWD.

Using a modified Pratt and Whitney PT6 by STP (Known as the STN 6/76) that was previously used in the 1967 STP-Paxton Turbocar, the 56 was visually iconic and even more interesting underneath. The Wedge Shape of the 56 was unique compared to the more Cigar-like shape of other Lotus F1 cars, and even other cars in the indy field that year.

It was not without issue, however, as the USAC, the guys running the Indy 500, decided to implement a restriction against turbine powered racing vehicles. This restriction reduced the allowed intake of air by about 35%. This restriction was intended to make the Turbine powered cars, mainly the 56 and Turbocar, more competitve with the existing piston-powered cars.

The 56 was not without deaths, however, as Mike Spence was killed while testing a 56 at Indy. The remaining 3 lined up for the 1968 Indy 500 being driven by Graham Hill, Joe Leonard, and Art Pollard. Of the 3 cars, Hill’s car crashed, Pollard’s car broke down, and Leonard, despite leading the race for many laps, failed to win as his fuel pump shaft broke down with only a handfull of laps left to run.


#130

On the subject of Lotuses, here are a few which should have been more successful, but weren’t:

1991 Lotus 102B - After a string of poor seasons at the dawn of the 3.5-litre era, the original Team Lotus lost all major sponsorship, but put on a brave face by updating the 102 to accept a Judd V8. It is best remembered, however, for being the car in which Mika Hakkinen made his F1 debut, nearly 30 years ago, even though it only scored three points all season.

Later in the season it was tested with an Isuzu V12 to create the 102C, but financial problems saw the plan abandoned in short order. At any rate, the very idea of a V12-powered F1 car was by then living on borrowed time due to the presence of a new breed of lighter, smaller V10 engines offering superior power and economy, and the V12 disappeared from the F1 grids for good after 1995, the first season of the 3.0-litre era. Only one Isuzu V12 - codenamed P799WE (shown below) - survives today; it now has pride of place in scale model maker Tamiya’s corporate museum.

The poor record of the 102B and the cancellation of the 102C were the last straws for Team Lotus, which collapsed at the end of 1994. But it wouldn’t be Lotus’ last attempt to make an impact on world-class motorsport…

1997 Elise GT1 - This mutant Elise was designed for competing in the inaugural season of the FIA GT Championship (formerly the BPR Global GT Series). It replaced the earlier Esprit GT1, but shared that car’s twin-turbo 3.5-litre Type 918 flat-crank V8 - most of the time. However, the factory team instead chose to run an 6-litre flatplane version of the GM LT5 V8 as used in the C4 Corvette ZR-1. Whatever engine lurked under its rear deck, however, it was too slow and unreliable to be competitive, and withdrawn from racing duties completely at the end of the season. Only one roadgoing example (shown below) was built; fortunately, it survives to this day.

Although Mike Hezemans and his father Toine managed to adapt the Lotus GT1 to accept a V10 engine from a Chrysler Viper GTS-R (with the resulting car being called the Bitter GT1), it was still too slow and unreliable, and by the end of the 1998 season, Lotus’ plan to take international motorsport by storm was over for good.

Fortunately, appearances in video games such as Need for Speed II and Gran Turismo 2 have ensured that this one-off road-racer will never, ever be forgotten.


#131

The road going model is also featured in Forza Motorsport 7 through DLC and Forza Horizon 4 as a Barn find.


#132

i’m more partial to the F1 variant of the 56.

also, have the only Diesel and first Turbo pole sitter in Indy 500 and, by-proxy, F1 history, the 1952 Cummins Diesel Special.


#133

Now here’s a proper spaceship…

1992 Mazda RX-792P. It may well share the name of the iconic Mazda coupe, but this is about as un-roadcar-esque as you can get. It does, however, share its powerplant with the legendary 787B, namely R26B Engine, otherwise known as “source of one the most snexual sounds ever”.

Sadly it only raced for one season of IMSA GTP in 1992 before being pulled.


#134

Speaking of Mazda prototypes, here’s the new lap record holder at the Daytona 24 Hours: the DPI-class RT24-P. Oliver Jarvis just set a lap time of 1:33.685 in qualifying, nearly two tenths of a second faster than the previous record of 1:33.875, set by PJ Jones way back in 1993 driving an AAR Eagle Mk III GTP during the last season of the IMSA GTP Era. Amazingly, Jarvis went even faster in practice, with a blistering time of 1:33.398.

Smashing a long-standing benchmark at Daytona was no mean feat, as Jarvis himself can attest:

Sadly the team’s effort was rendered moot after neither of its cars failed to finish.

The success of the DPi class in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship has got me thinking. It might actually be a better choice for the flagship category in the World Endurance Championship than the proposed hypercar class which is about to replace LMP1 because - whisper it - there are some fundamental problems with it which could severely limit its appeal to fans:

Specifically, the regulations being proposed for these “hypercars”, liberal as they are, require every single car to have strict power limits (681.239 bhp, to be exact, plus 268.204 bhp from the electric drivetrain), while the more successful teams must add 1.1 lbs of ballast for every point earned, up to a maximum of 110.2 lbs. This removes the performance differences that makes road-going hypercar comparisons so compelling and effectively turns the category into something more closely resembling a spec series, potentially defeating the purpose of the whole plan. As such, I fear the hypercar class, for all the hype surrounding it, could fail to capture the public’s imagination like the short-lived GT1 era of the mid-90s did, and in that case, bringing in DPi prototypes like the RT24-P, which have so far never raced at all outside North America, might not be such a bad idea after all.


#135

another double post alert

The 3.0-litre era of F1 (1995-2005) is best remembered for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari being utterly dominant for the entire first half of the Noughties, winning the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships, respectively, each year from 2000 through to 2004, but prior to that it was much more competitive. Here are a few other dominant cars that defined the era.

1995 Benetton B195 - Team Enstone’s most successful car ever, with 11 wins during the 1995 season, and the only one to win the Constructor’s Championship before the Renault buyout in 2002. If the B194 established Michael Schumacher’s reputation as a World Champion (though not without controversy), this car most definitely confirmed it - he claimed nine victories that year.

Here it is blasting through the forest section on the old Hockenheimring - a completely different circuit to what it is now:

1996 Williams FW18 - The most successful car in Williams’ entire history, with 12 wins out of 16 races during the 1996 season. Unfortunately, lead driver Damon Hill and chief designer Adrian Newey left the team shortly afterwards, and its successor, the 1997 FW19, became the last Williams ever to win either or both championships, with Hill’s teammate Jacques Villeneuve claiming his last race win and sole world championship that year - making him the last non-European driver ever to accomplish the latter.

If you’ve seen or heard this clip of it trundling down the Goodwood Hillclimb back in 2014, you’ll be reminded instantly of Murray Walker’s immortal quote on Hill winning his one and only World Championship: “…and I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat!”

1998 McLaren MP4/13 - Yet another Adrian Newey masterpiece, and sadly the last McLaren ever to win the Constructors’ Championship; it also gave Mika Hakkinen his first Drivers’ championship, something the team has claimed only twice since. The introduction of grooved dry tires and a narrower track posed quite a few challenges, but Newey coped with them very easily and the team over-delivered on his expectations.

It was, still is, and will forever be the fastest car ever to complete the Goodwood Hillclimb - Nick Heidfeld set a blistering time of 41.6 seconds 20 years ago, making him the only man to achieve an average speed of over 100 mph on the course (or who could ever have done so, for that matter). Sadly, safety concerns have since made such outright lap record attempts impossible.

All three of these cars are a poignant reminder of what F1 has lost over the years - simpler, better-sounding cars, a whole slew of more challenging circuits, and race-winning cars from what were once part of the Big Three of the sport (Team Enstone’s last win was in 2013, as Lotus; Williams’ and McLaren’s last wins were in 2012). We’re lucky that Williams and McLaren are still around, for if they were to completely disappear from the grid for good, F1 would be virtually unrecognizable - and nowhere near as fun to watch (or race in, for that matter). In fact, it would be a dreadful spectacle, one that I would not want to watch at all.

It’s tragic that F1 has become less competitive, not more, since the 2012 season where there were eight different winners from six different teams - you have to go back to the 2013 Australian Grand Prix to find a race not won by Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG or Red Bull, and to find a race not won by any of these three teams (I’m lumping Brawn GP’s win tally with Mercedes’) or Team Enstone (which includes the current Renault team and the new Team Lotus), McLaren or Williams, you’ll have to go even further back in time, to the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, which was won by Sebastian Vettel in a Toro Rosso. Some of the things which could make F1 more fun, competitive, and unpredictable than it is now include the following, as stated in the links above - and given how overwhelmingly dominant Mercedes has been for the past five seasons (and on current evidence, possibly the 2019 season as well), I’ll go out on a limb to suggest they should have been introduced five years ago:

  • Abandon the current turbo hybrid engine regs and replace them with normally aspirated V12 engines displacing 3.0 litres, capped at 1,000 horsepower each, but with absolutely no hybrid components whatsoever (and therefore no ERS). These new engines wouldn’t just sound better, but be cheaper as well - and it might tempt Cosworth back into the sport after a long absence.

  • Replace some of the more boring tracks (Sochi, Yas Marina, and Shanghai) with a few venues that haven’t been used in a while (Nurburgring, Imola), and find a way to keep Monza, Hockenheim, Barcelona, Silverstone and Mexico City on the calendar - all five of those circuits’ contracts will expire at the end of this season, and it would be a shame if any (or, worse yet, all) of them were to be dropped for good, such is their history.

  • Simplify the aero components (especially the front and rear wings) so that the amount of aerodynamic grip is reduced, making DRS unnecessary. While we’re at it, I’d suggest adjusting the wings’ width and height to make the cars better proportioned than they are now, and increasing the amount of mechanical grip to compensate.

  • Make mid-race refueling mandatory again, to reintroduce a strategic element sadly absent for the past ten seasons, thereby making races more difficult (and rewarding) for the teams and drivers to manage. Also, remove the fuel volume limit entirely to allow the drivers to push as hard as they can whenever possible.

  • Impose a budget cap for every team - $150 million seems reasonable. The top three teams might cry foul over this, but I’d rather see them do the best with what they’ve been given for the sake of a level playing field.

One more item on my wishlist would be for Daniel Ricciardo to join Ferrari, finally giving us the dream team/driver combination I secretly wish were on the grid - in fact, the Australian might well be the only man who, if he were ever to drive for Ferrari, could have a chance of ending Mercedes-AMG and Lewis Hamilton’s reign at the top of the championship standings, given the amount of mistakes Sebastian Vettel has made in the past few years - but sadly that might have to wait until the German leaves Ferrari altogether, given that his new teammate, Charles Leclerc, is already committed to his seat there for the next few seasons.

Still unconvinced? Check this link:

It’s unlikely that some (or all) of these changes will be introduced in the near future, but given that F1 no longer needs to be relevant to road cars, they might not be such a bad idea after all. On the other hand, if the FIA dithers and leaves things as they are for too long, even after the new car designs are introduced in two years’ time, it’s almost guaranteed that the immense disparity between the haves (Ferrari, Red Bull and especially Mercedes-AMG) and have-nots (every other team) will grow even further, to the point that, in the extreme worst-case scenario, the former three might end up being the only teams left in the sport, period. If that’s progress, I’d rather live in the past.