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Established in 1958 by Eric Broadley MBE, Lola is proud to be Great Britain’s longest-serving manufacturer of racing cars. After an extraordinary rise to prominence, in which it mastered all spheres of the sport from humble club classes to Formula 1, and endurance sports racers to Indycars, Lola has continually been at the forefront of the worldwide motorsport industry. Its enviable position has been consolidated under the ownership of Martin Birrane since 1997, with the introduction of advanced technologies to keep its products winning in the 21st century.

Drivers of Lola cars scored points in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship from the marque’s debut season in 1962. Lola’s roll of honour also includes no fewer than nine CART/OWRS championship titles, three Indianapolis 500 wins and the 1978 USAC Triple Crown, eight US/European/Tasman Formula 5000 titles, victory in the 1963 Monaco Formula Junior Grand Prix, the inaugural Can-Am Challenge series of 1966, the 1969 Daytona 24 Hours, the 1973 European 2-litre Sportscar Championship, five successive Can-Am titles, eight Japanese Formula 3000 crowns, numerous FIA International F3000 championships and three Sports Car Championships in 2001 alone. Additionally, Lolas have carried amateur and professional competitors to countless championships and race victories on every major continent.
Eric Broadley builds 1172cc Ford-engined Broadley Special and races it with his cousin Graham.
(The Lola Archive)
The roots of the remarkable Lola story were sown in 1957, when quantity surveyor Eric Broadley built the 1172cc Ford-engine "Broadley Special" for the "Ford Ten Special" class and raced it with his cousin Graham, the Special was a winner and almost immediately Broadley started designing a Climax-engined successor which was the the basis of the Mk1. Eric's career as a racing driver was short lived, in his own words "The Mk1 proved too quick for me. I was a very hairy and inexperienced and could not do justice to the car."

A year later, using his £2000 savings, Eric formed Lola Cars Ltd and designed and built the very first Lola which was constructed at Maurice Gomm's West Byfleet workshop. At the time this area was a hotbed of racing car construction with both Brabham and Cooper nearby.

During the next four years thirty-five of the multi-tubular spaceframe Mark 1 (usually Coventry Climax-engined) 1098cc sports racers were built at business partner (and future Lola works manager) Rob Rushbrook’s garage in Bromley, South London.

The cars were offered in a wide variety of configurations as regards choice of engine, gearbox, wheels and tyres to allow the purchaser to fit the car to his budget. Before the advent of the Mk1 sports racing was very much dominated by Lotus and Elva however success was immediate with Peter Ashdown in particular leading his class with win after win. Amongst all of these successes was Lola's first continental victory at Clermont-Ferrand.

The Mark 1 would be the first sports car of any size to lap Brands Hatch in under one minute and Stirling Moss still competes in his privately owned MK1 in historics to the present day. Fortunately many other Mk1s have also survived and can also be seen at Historic events all around the world.

The Mk1 in its heyday, racing at Goodwood in the hands of Bernard Cox.
(The Lola Archive)

From humble beginnings, the first Lola factory at Bromley.
(The Lola Archive)

The neat low-line design of the Mk2, the reason
for the "mini-Vanwall" nickname is
self-evident from this profile view.
(The Lola Archive)
Given that in its brief career Lola Cars had only built sports cars it was perhaps surprising that Eric Broadley designed and built the first single seater Lola, the front-engined Formula Junior Mk3 in 1960. Although no match for the Lotus 18 and the Cooper T52 results were promising enough to see the creation the following year of the first rear-engined Lola, the Mk3. Once again the Mk3 played second fiddle to the Lotus 20 and Cooper T56.

The Mk5 and Mk5a followed in successive years and claimed a number of wins in the Formula, notably the supporting race to the 1963 Monaco GP when Richard Attwood, driving for the Midland Racing Partnership, was victorious. There were no more F Junior Lolas as the class was replaced with Formula 3 in 1964.

For more on Lola and Formula Junior click HERE
John Surtees displays the neat lines of the Mk4.
(The Lola Archive)
Four years after it was established, Lola really started to flourish when Reg Parnell commissioned a Formula 1 design for his Bowmaker Finance-backed team in 1962.
The Mk4 cars were raced initially by John Surtees and Roy Salvadori. Buoyed by qualifying on pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort and victory in the non-championship International 2000 Guineas race at Mallory Park, Surtees finished second in the British and German Grands Prix and fourth in the 1962 World Championship.

For more on Lola and Formula 1 click HERE
Eric Broadley and John Wyer admire the Mk6 GT.
(The Lola Archive)

This enormous on-track achievement was followed by a partnership with the Ford Motor Company, which resulted in the 4.2-litre Ford V8-powered Lola Mk6 GT. The Mk6 took Lola to Le Mans for the first time in 1963 – having been driven there on the road from Lola’s new factory in Slough. Impressed by this Ford contracted Eric Broadley to develop the Mk6 and directly from this sprung the Ford GT40 series which dominated sports car racing until the end of the decade, winning the French 24 hour classic from 1966 to 1969.

During the mid-sixties, Broadley's latest sports car thinking resulted in the legendary T70 series of brawny V8-engined machines which first emerged in 1965 and immediately set the pace at home and overseas. Armed with an open Mk2 Spyder version, John Surtees won the first Can-Am Championship in 1966. Roger Penske knew a good thing when he saw one and was soon campaigning the later  Mk3B (the closed coupe version) in long distance events. Driven by Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons, the Penske Lola won the 1969 Daytona 24 Hours, proving the design’s reliability.

Other notable T70 victories include Denny Hulme at the TT, the Players and Martini Trophies and Frank Gardner with the Brands Hatch and Mallory Park Guards Trophies. Other noted T70 winners included Jo Bonnier, Brian Redman, David Piper, Trevor Taylor and Paul Hawkins.

Paul Hawkins working hard in his T70 Mk3B at Snetterton in April 1969.
(The Lola Archive)

The Indy 500, Graham Hill on his way to victory
in the Red Ball Special T90.
(Photo Media.Ford.com)
A T142 Formula A/F5000 showing the typical
high rear wing of the period.
(The Lola Archive)
Cars for USAC championship racing followed. The first was the T80 which Al Unser took to 9th in 1965. The following year its successor, the T90, won the 1966 Indianapolis 500 race driven by 1962 Formula One World Champion Graham Hill and in 1967 Al Unser would gain another second. Lola’s first ‘big-banger’ T140 Formula 5000/Formula A single-seater, its suspension derived from the T70 sportscar, entered the fray in 1968.

During the mid-sixties Lola built a number of customer Formula 2 cars chalking up several victories, notably for John Surtees who ran a works supported team for himself and David Hobbs using the T100 design in 1967 and 1968. BMW also commissioned Lola to build a F2 chassis to take their the radical radial-headed "Apfelbeck" 1600cc engines, sadly drivers Jo Siffert and Hubert Hahne found the German engines weren't as competitive as the Cosworth FVAs which powered most of their rivals.

For more on Lola and Formula 2 click HERE

Lola also entered the Formula 3 scene in the mid-sixties winning a number of races in Europe. A number of young drivers made their name in the F3 Lolas including Nigel Mansell, Arie Luyendijk and Guy Edwards. Lola returned to F3 in 2003 and immediately began to win races, in 2006 the B06/30 is dominated the Recaro German F3 series having won 15 of the 20 rounds in the series.

For more on Lola and Formula 3 click HERE

Ian Ashley's Lola T330 at Brands Hatch in the
1974 Race of Champions.
(Photo Gerald Swan)
The Lola-BMW T212 of Tony Birchenhough and
Brian Joscelyne.
(Photo Gerald Swan)
Lola moved to its current Huntingdon base at the end of 1970, where Formula 5000 continued to be a specialty. Following Australian Frank Gardner’s development work with the F2-based T300 prototype in 1971, Lola’s T330 set new standards of design in 1972 and T332 evolutions of the car, entered by US Lola importer Carl Haas, won a hat-trick of SCCA/USAC titles from 1974-1976 in the brilliant hands of Briton Brian Redman. Bob Evans also won the Rothmans European title in 1972 in a T332.

Going back to Eric Broadley’s sports car roots, Lola had also set new parameters of excellence in the new 2-litre class, his open monocoque chassied T210 having taken northern rival Derek Bennett’s Chevron concern, which was still using spaceframe coupes, by surprise in 1970. European agent Jo Bonnier, a Swiss-based Swedish veteran, won the drivers’ title. Austrian Helmut Marko won it in 1971 with its successor the T212, helping Lola to the manufacturer’s crown.

The ultra-successful and extremely attractive Lola T290 family of cars (and the 3-litre T280 series, powered by Formula 1 Cosworth DFV engines) are hallowed as classics of production racing car design. Rightly so, since Eric Broadley and Bob Marston were joined on the design team by youngsters Patrick Head and John Barnard, whose genius went on to span Formula 1 World Championships and Indycar racing, and continues to leave an indelible mark on motor sport.
The T370 of Graham Hill during the 1974
British GP.
(Photo Gerald Swan)
Al Unser on his way to victory in the Indy 500.
(Photo Media.Ford.com)

It was the mid-1970’s when Lola re-entered Formula 1 with its T370, commissioned in 1974 by Graham Hill’s Embassy-Hill team and driven by the double World Champion, as well as Guy Edwards, Peter Gethin and Rolf Stommelen. A year later, in 1975, Lola celebrated the production of its 1000th car. The company had, since the T200 model took it into the booming Formula Ford 1600 market in 1970, consistently supported the aspiring professional racer. Lola was also ready for the FF2000 wings and slicks category (for cars powered by Ford’s 2-litre Pinto engine) which followed.

Drawing on its 2-litre sportscar experience, Lola dominated the new Sports 2000 Series from the outset in 1977 with a series of cars that managed to be both very competitive and very attractive and many of them are still running in Historic events some 25 years later.

The next major international landmark in Lola’s history was achieved in 1978, when Al Unser won the Indianapolis 500 at a speed of 161.363 mph. What makes this win even more impressive was that Unser was the only Lola in a field of McLarens, Eagles, Penskes, Lightnings and Wildcats. A year after the company re-entered the USAC fray, Unser became the first driver to win all three 500-mile races (the others being at Pocono and Ontario Motor Speedway) in one season, appropriately, he drove the T500 model.

Mario Andretti in the Newman/Haas Lola T800
at Long Beach.
(Photo Media.Ford.com)
The Corvette GTP.
(Photo Lola Archive)

The mid-1980s saw Lola enter the new Formula 3000 category from its beginning in 1985, and construct the Lola-T86/10 Corvette GTP car which won IMSA’s prestigious Miami Grand Prix road race. Lola also built a Formula 1 car for Gerard Larrousse’s fledgling equipe, which finished runner-up in the 3.5-litre atmospheric class, secondary to the big-league teams with their 1.5-litre turbocars.

Towards the end of the eighties, Lola marked its entry into Japan by exporting its T87/50 F3000 car. Kazuyoshi Hoshino won the Japanese Formula Championship straight off, and Lola driver Hitoshi Ogawa backed this up by winning the title in 1989.

Lola was also commissioned by Chevrolet to produce their T710, (Corvette GTP) for the IMSA series, which set many lap records. In America too, Nissan, (via Electramotive Engineering of El Segundo, California), commissioned the T810 series of Ground effect Sports Prototype cars for the turbocharged Nissan V6 engine.  In developed form, this chassis won the 1988 and 1989 IMSA Championship, driven by Geoff Brabham.

Nigel Mansell followed his 1992 World
Championship with the 1993 CART title, Mansell
is seen here at the Nazareth oval.
(Photo Media.Ford.com)
The Nissan Group C Lola-built chassis took pole position at the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours.
(Photo LAT)

Lola victories continued thick and fast into the nineties when the company won three successive European Formula 3000 Championships. In 1990, expatriate Dutchman Arie Luyendijk won the Indianapolis 500 race in a T90/00 and Mark Blundell set the new lap record at Le Mans in a Lola-built Nissan. These cars were among the fastest of the enormously popular Group C cars, achieving almost 250 mph at Le Mans and they went on to have long and distinguished careers at Daytona, in America, and in the Japanese Sportscar Championship and dominate Historic Group C racing today.

These were golden Indycar years too, 1990 saw Al Unser Jr take the laurels in the Galles-Kraco Lola Chevrolet, in 1991 it was the turn of Michael Andretti (Newman-Haas Racing) and Bobby Rahal (Rahal-Hogan) won CART’s Indy Car Championship. In Japan, Ukyo Katayama won the 1991 All Japan Formula 3000 Championship and the following year it was Mauro Martini with Nova Engineering, Lola also taking three of the top four positions.

In 1993, Nigel Mansell won the Indy Car championship for Lola and the Newman Haas Team after leaving the Williams Formula 1 team. The 1993 Indianapolis 500 saw Lolas finish from second to tenth after Arie Luyendyk took pole position with a lap of 223.967 mph. It was another victorious season in Japan with Kazuyoshi Hoshino taking the All Japan crown. Further Championships would follow in 1995 and 1997, and subsequently, Lola was rewarded with the contract to supply spec cars for the one-make FIA International F3000 series.

The A1GP car proved a huge hit with both the
drivers and the fans with its powerful engines
and close racing all around the world.
(Picture A1GP.com)
The Drayson Racing Lola B09/60 took its first
ALMS victory in 2010.
(Picture americanlemans.com)
The new for 2010 AutoGP Championship which
grew from the European F3000 series uses
the Lola B05/52 as its spec chassis.
(Picture AutoGP.com)
In its final years under Eric Broadley's reign, Lola won all four single-seater formulae, but its re-entry into Formula 1 proved ill-starred and financially crippling. Martin Birrane purchased the company in 1997, Birrane’s enthusiasm for the marque dates back to him being an owner and entrant of the T292 in which Chris Craft won the 1973 European 2-litre sportscar series, as well as his own driving of various Lola models, including racing at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Birrane is the proud owner of a classic Lola collection that he presently competes in Historic race series.

With major investment in leading-edge technology, facilities and the finest talents in the automotive industry, Lola's core business evolved to provide a complete turnkey package. Lola has three divisional areas of dedicated expertise and excellence which form;

Lola Motorsport - Lola Technology - Lola Manufacturing

The details of this history show that Lola's race-winning reputation is second to none. For over 50 years Lola has manufactured competitive, innovative cars that have been driven by the finest talents in motorsport. Their efforts and the design, engineering and manufacturing skills of Lola’s workforce which now exceeds 220 people, have assisted the company in achieving its success and have gained international recognition as the global market leader. Such is Lola's reputation that the company was chosen to provide the chassis for the new A1GP series that proved such a success.

In 2006 the Lola B06/30 totally dominated the German Recaro Formula 3 Cup winning no less than 15 of the 20 races that comprised the Championship whilst Lola drivers took first and second in the final standings.

In 2010 Lola continue with their love of sports car racing, their LMP1 and LMP2 designs taking class and outright victories in the both the Le Mans and American Le Mans series.
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