The genesis of the LOLA T600
It all started thanks to Mr Brian Redman
By 1980, at age 42, Brian Redman seemed to be at the end of a very successful racing career. He had been a winning factory driver for the John Wyer team during the Gulf GT40 and Porsche 917 years, then for Ferrari. Then in 1979, after a testing accident in a new-generation Can Am car, Redman retired to sell for Carl Haas in Lake Forest, Illinois. The glory days of his career and sports car racing seemed to be behind him…
…that was until he read the proposed regulations for the new IMSA GTP. With renewed enthusiasm, he approached Haas about a customer Lola GTP car. With Haas’ encouragement, Redman presented an idea to Lola’s founder, Eric Broadley, in the summer of 1980: Lola Cars Ltd. Could build a car.
Simple in construction techniques, the T600 revolutionized the sports car racing
While Lola had built the open cockpit T-510 ground effect Can Am car for 1980, the T-600 closed car was entirely new, though both were to be powered by a Chevrolet V8 (6 liter in the T600, 5 liter in the T510). Still, there was no interchangeability between Lola’s two customer road racers. The T510 was a conventional chassis design constructed of riveted aluminium sheet. The Lola T600 was to have a honeycomb aluminium chassis, a first for Lola, giving it greater strength than its Can Am cousin.
Ralph Kent Cooke and Roy Woods partnered to buy the cars at $80,000 each, sans motor.
In the late fall of 1980, Redman approached Bob Garretson to as his team to handle the car. Redman retained the task of team manager and driver. Lola sent John bright for crew chief. Redman had interest Bright in the project as early as October 1980.
First Ground-effect prototype inspired by Max Sardou
The GTP series offered opportunities for exploring new technologies. Broadley approached the leading independent expert on ground effects, Dr. Max Sardou.
In 1973, while exploring the vaporization of the Venturi in a carburetor, Sardou saw the significance of the internal winglike shape that caused the air to lose pressure when the throat enlarged.
He approached Renault about incorporating venturis into the body of their new Formula 1 car, but Renault management passed, feeling that having two unproven technologies (the other being turbocharging) was too much. The following year, Colin Chapman debuted the ground-effect Lotus 1978. Sardou built his own car and modified a March BMW M1, but the additional weight of the tunnels offset the handling advantages, and the project was dropped.
Design for the T600 began in the fall of 1980, with the first car ready by spring. Using Sardou’s theories, the car featured rear wheel covers and suspension components tucked out of the venture air stream to maximize down force. Since the car had no side skirts, as used on Formula 1 cars at the time, air was able to enter from the sides, and down force was actually increased as the car slid.
In Europe, Guy Edwards and Emilio de Villota won two races of the World Championship of 1981 with HU3
Cooke-Woods wasn’t the only team having success with the T600. In Europe, Guy Edwards and Emilio de Villota, with the support from Cosworth Engineering, campaigned T600 HU3 powered by a 3.3-liter Cosworth Ford-V8, a variation of the Grand-Prix and Indy-winning engine.
Ascott Collection owns this particular car. In 1981 the Cosworth-powered Lola T600 won two races of the World Championship in 1981: the 1,000-kilometer race at Brands Hatch and the six-hour race at Pergusa. It has been entered in the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1981 where it finished 15th overall. HU3 is the only Cosworth powered T600.